Spouse Maintains Unhealthy Attachment to Parents

God provides us with a model for successful marriage relationships in the Bible. In Genesis 2:24, He says that "a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife." Jesus repeats this commandment in Matthew 19:4-5 and Mark 10:6-8.

The word "cleave" in this context means to be united as one flesh and to establish a new family unit, separate and distinct from the spouses' families of origin. In order for a marriage to be healthy, that new family unit needs to take priority over the husband's family and the wife's family. If your husband is a Christian, he needs to understand that in failing to observe this principle, he is disobeying God's instructions and wreaking havoc on your relationship.

The best thing you can do at this point is make an appointment with a qualified Christian family therapist who has experience with marital issues. Tell your husband that you're hoping he will attend the sessions with you, but that if he doesn't you'll be going alone. Even if he's as insensitive to your feelings, there's still a chance that he won't like the idea of you discussing your marital problems with a third party without him. If that's the case, he may agree to join you. This may not happen immediately, but if you stick with it, eventually he'll want to accompany you.

Even if your husband refuses to go to counseling, your therapist can teach you ways to develop the emotional strength you need to stand up to your husband and his family. This won't be easy, but you'll have a caring ally who can guide you through the process of establishing healthy boundaries. Focus on the Family's Counseling staff can give you a free over-the-phone consultation and provide you with a list of referrals to qualified professionals in your area. You can call and speak with a member of our team at this number.

Resources
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life (book)InMarriage

Establishing Healthy Boundaries with Your In-Laws (broadcast)

Articles
Cutting Your Spouse's Apron Strings

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