A new union that creates a new family happens when you say, “I do.”
Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23–24)
“If you want to experience the truth of Genesis 2:24, just marry a soldier, sailor, airman, coastguardsman, or marine. You will then understand to the fullest what God had in mind when he gave the instruction to leave and cleave!” These words from veteran military wife Carol ring true. “Cleave” (the term used in older English translations for this verse) is a word packed with meaning that needs to stick in the minds and hearts of every married couple. In fact, that is exactly the translation of cleave: to stick with. The word describes the “inseparable relationship between the man and the woman in marriage as God intended.”1
Carol recalls the emotions she experienced when, after nine months of marriage, her husband received military orders to Germany. She said, “The idea of going to another country made me think I might never see my parents again.” She questioned whether the love she and her husband had for each other would be strong enough to withstand the adjustment of life without her mom and dad.
“Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” speaks of the uniting of a husband and wife as one. The wording of Scripture in Genesis 2:24 conveys the radical nature of the marriage union. Consider the case of a female egg and male sperm coming together to form a new human being. One day that new person will physically depart the mother’s body and live separately. Though this child shares traits, genes, and relationships with others, the child has an identity apart from the family of origin.
Just as we cut the umbilical cord at the birth of a new baby, there must be a separation from mom and dad so we can stick with and hold fast to a spouse. A mama wants to hold tight to a newborn baby, but it would be absurd—and unhealthy—for her to want the umbilical cord to remain intact.
Marriage does not mean you forget about your family of origin, but does mean your primary family identity now comes with your spouse. A new union that creates a new family happens when you say, “I do.” This union between a man and woman goes beyond physical union toward the union of spirits through love and concern, faithfulness and devotion, support and involvement.2
What does healthy emotional sustainment look like? What are the dangers of leaning too hard on your husband for emotional sustenance? What other sources of emotional support do you have? How does a military marriage enhance or discourage emotional sustainment?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, teach me what it means to be one with my husband. Give us healthy boundaries, and help us overcome those things that would hinder closeness. Amen.
1 NET Notes on Genesis 2:24; https://lumina.bible.org/bible/Genesis+2, accessed 4/27/15.
2 Claus Westermann Genesis 1–11 (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1984), 234.