How to Leave and Cleave: What is Enmeshment? 

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How to leave & cleave 2: Enmeshment

RM Podcast & # QR Code for Leave & Cleave Workbook. 

-Why? You matter. Your marriage matters. Your family matters. Your legacy matters. 

-3 decades seeing decent people struggling & hurting in broken family systems. 

Genesis 2:24-25 (KJV cf. Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:5-9; Ephesians 5:31) – Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

  • Leave & Cleave
  • Covenant & Consummation 

Leave & Cleave Options chart (pg 7) 

Immaturity Causes Enmeshment  

Luke 2:52 “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I

reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

1.    Physical development (passive). Character development (active). 

2.    Immaturity = child OR parent do not move into the next stage of development

  1. Over parenting (mom vs dad = prevent pain = Helicopter Research) 
  2. Irresponsible adult children (Dr. Spock Baby & Child Care 50 million -Victim)

3.    Reverting Roles (holidays, nicknames, stories) 

4.    It takes a man to raise a man 


Italy. 75 yr old mom sued sons 40/42 evict apt “bamboccioni” (big babies) 72% men 18-34 home, majority not in school or work 

Anxiety Causes Enmeshment

=Fear in Mind = Anxiety in Body 

2 Timothy 1:7 “God gave us a spirit not of fear”. 

Philippians 4:5-7 “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

=Family – relational unit that shares emotions (eg cold), esp FEAR/ANXIETY

Am. Psyc. Assoc. “Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, & physical changes like increased blood pressure. People w/anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness, or a rapid heartbeat.”

  1. Acute anxiety – sudden event or entrance of a person 
  2. Chronic anxiety – lower level constant drain (health issue, dying marriage)

Anxiety Signs (fear in mind = triggers anxiety in body) 

1.    Spinning mind

2.    Racing heart 

3.    Churning gut 

Anxiety Responses 

1).Fight  2).Flight 3). Freeze 4). Caregive (immature, unhealthy, Savior complex = ENMESHED) 

Men: Anxious or non-anxious presence?

Daughter would not marry because her parents marriage would crater 

Favoritism Causes Enmeshment  

-TRIANGLE – Anxiety too high for 2 people, add 3rd (eg -gossip; -unholy alliance; -adultery) 

Parent-child Terrible Triangles = FAVORITISM

Generation 1 -Gen 21 Abr/Sarah no child (anxiety), Hagar (triangle) – War Israel Isaac/Ishmael 

Generation 2 -(Gen 25) TWINS – Isaac favored Esau “my son” vs Rebekah favored Jacob “my son” tricked dad blessing = Edomites vs Israelites (cutoff; Herod/Jesus) 

Generation 3 -(Gen ends) Jacob favored Joseph (no work, coat colors) – bros “cutoff” 

=Generational Curse – some cultures (Marriage Pressure) 

Nodal Events Cause Enmeshment 

Proverbs 3:25-26 – Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it

comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

-Nodal events = +/- generational tremors =enmeshed short term thinking & immaturity

-Birth/death; marriage/divorce; empty nest; move nation/state; cutoff; war; fire, war, terror

Grandpa died/grandma dementia = 

2 Nodal events – Fear – Anxiety – Enmesh – Quick Fix – Priorities – Immature Marriage/Family – 2 Triangles = 1. He cutoff 2. She reset priorities 3. Care plan 4. Kids repent

Leave father & mother, cleave to spouse 

  1. Thankful for?
  2. Forgive? 
  3. Differentiate (do differently)
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Mark Driscoll

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