Do You Join Your Spouse’s Family or Do They Join Yours?

Genesis 1:28 – God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

When I had the honor of officiating the weddings of our three married children, I said that our child was not joining their spouse’s family, and their spouse was not joining our family, but instead they were starting their own new family and had the right to make decisions that kept their family healthy and as the priority. I drew this out in conversations with each of our engaged children as their marriages approached. 

Not thinking this was very controversial, I said the same thing in a few sermons and the clips online went viral over and over. In all, the clips saying this principle in a few different ways were viewed more than 60 million times (roughly the same size as France, Italy or South Africa). Non-Christian platforms also reposted the clips where they were also viewed millions of times, eliciting thousands of comments, many of which were very personal and emotional, including some pointed personal attacks from controlling religious parents who had grown accustomed to weaponizing the Bible to domineer their adult children. The top 5 most asked questions worded in various ways were: 

  1. How do I share this with my mother-in-law without offending her?
  2. Any advice for getting my spouse on-board (I agree, but they don’t)?
  3. How do I create healthy boundaries to ensure this happens?
  4. What advice do you have for me if my parents/in-laws don’t receive this message?
  5. As a parent, how do I “let go” and let my children create their own family?

While your extended family cannot make your family, they can break your family. In a survey of 1,000 Americans either divorced or in the process of getting divorced, Forbes Advisor sought to uncover the most common reasons people divorce. (1)

Here are the most common reasons for divorce:

The greatest threat to your new marriage and family remaining intact, if the research is to be believed, is whether the extended families on both sides help or hinder your new family. For this reason, understanding the complex nature of family systems in light of God’s Word is arguably the most significant thing you can do to stay married and have a healthy, joyful, godly, flourishing family for generations. 

If you’re married, has your family of origin and family-in-law been supportive or unsupportive of your marriage?


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