Cutting the Apron Strings (part 1)

God never intended for man to be alone.   When he created all the animals, he had Adam name them all.  While naming them all, Adam realized that all the animals had a partner.  He kept looking and looking, but no suitable partner for him could be found.   When God saw how lonely Adam was he created Eve.   He placed Adam in a deep sleep and from his side, he took a rib and fashioned a woman.   Adam named her Eve.  I was pondering this while listening to a radio program one day.  Do you realize that Eve didn’t come from Adam’s head, to be head over him….she didn’t come from his feet, so that she would be trampled by him, but she came from his side…in which she is always under his arm, and equal partner.  I find that totally romantic!

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. “ (Genesis 2:24)  I didn’t remember this, but do you realize that God used this verse 5 times in the Bible?  Pretty incredible.   God really meant what he said.  But you see,  Adam and Eve had it easy. No wedding to plan, no parents to argue over where the wedding will be, or what will the reception menu be, or who do you invite/not invite…. No ex-boyfriends to compare to.  No other women to gawk at…No in-laws!  They were a couple that was perfectly made for each other. Match made in heaven. The Bible makes no claim of a wedding because God created the perfect partner (helpmate) for Adam in the Garden of Eden. Gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if it were that way for everyone? As a newlywed couple almost 15 years ago, my husband had a pretty easy time “leaving” his family and uniting with me. He had been pretty independent mostly growing up. His parents were divorced, and he had to do a lot for himself. For me, on the other hand, it was very hard to let go of my family. I was the biggest Daddy’s girl in the world. My Dad did everything with me. He was not only my Dad, he was the shoulder I cried on. He was my coach in softball every season I played. He was my biggest cheerleader in when I played in band or on the basketball squad. He took me to the Varsity boy’s basketball home games to see my latest “crush” in HS, knowing I was watching my latest crush and not the game. He did everything possible for me. My Mom always took great care of our household. We had the best tasting, most nutritious meals every night. She was always home when we got home from school. If I woke up with bad monthly cramps, she was the one up at 2am with me, making me hot tea to comfort me. I had a very close family. We did anything for anyone and didn’t think twice about it, so even though they threw the rice at us and decorated our getaway car with balloons and misspelled words on the car, there were still “apron strings” that were firmly left in my former home that still had an attachment to me. We had a very hard first few years in our marriage. It took me awhile to see that my family was my husband and my young son now. I had to learn how to put them first before my family of origin. I literally needed to learn how to forsake the dependence I had on my parents. I now had to put the best interest of my family (me, dh and ds) forefront in my life. That was the hardest lesson I had to learn. I struggled between the commitment I had to my husband and honoring my parents. In a way, I have to say living 250 miles away from my parents made it somewhat easier. There was no way to “run home to Mama” anytime the least little thing went wrong.

I was listening to a radio program recently by Dr. Ed Young from Second Baptist Church in Houston, TX.   His radio show aired their “Thou Shalt Cut the Apron Strings” program about the same time I started writing this article!  It was an incredible miracle of God to hear about this exact thing I was writing on!    There are 3 operative words in the verse I quoted above from Genesis…leave, cleave and flesh.   We all know what leave means…it means GO!  Cleave, Dr. Young said, is comparable to super glue.   You are supposed to stick to your man and nothing should tear you apart.   Flesh…ah, in this part of the verse, we need to use divine math.   1+1=1!  One flesh unity, one agenda unity, one family unit…you get the point.

I was reading also recently that there are 3 checks to see if you have completely left your old family and united with your spouse. The first one is emotional. Have you left your parents emotional control or are you still looking to them for support and approval? I had been so used to my old life. Going out shopping with my mom and sister whenever we got together… any time we visited, we did that and left my hubby at my parents house with the baby. Can you tell the kind of view he had of my parents the first couple of years of our marriage?   He didn’t like to visit because no one visited with him!  There were also many times I felt like calling my mom and dad and crying “Mr. Nutmeg hurt my feelings by doing this…”, but there was always something keeping me from doing that…I realize now it was God. Your parents will always have empathy for you, and there is no sense in souring their relationship with your spouse by telling them every little thing that is going wrong. That Mama and Papa Bear mentality will always be there for their little Baby bear. Quit telling your parents every little thing your DH does.   That is for you to work out with your spouse.   Your parents have already done their time in supporting and protecting you. It is now time to hand that role over to your spouse completely.

The second one is your financial areas. Starting out as a newlywed couple can be very hard. If you are used to depending on your parents for help with everything, it can be very hard not to “run to Daddy” when the going gets tough. We both started out with debts to our names…college loans, credit card bills, a car note…you name it.   We got pregnant within the first 5 months of our marriage, so now we had to buy baby things…cribs, clothes, car seats, strollers…not to mention diapers, formula…. and our jobs were seasonal. We only really worked while school was in session. We could still work during the summer, but we always had a huge cut in income. There were times that we ran to his “Mommy” or “Daddy” to help us pay rent or an electric bill. Over the years, we have become much better at putting our money aside for the summer to cover our big expenses.  Don’t run to Daddy for the down payment on your first home…save your money for the down payment.   It means more to you if you had to work hard to get your home with your own money than if you borrow it from family.  There is a string that they will always have attached to you.   Sometimes in those first few years of marriage you have to live pretty meagerly, but it really makes it worthwhile in the long run to see your hard work pay off.

The last area is in decision making. As a couple, it is so important that you make your own decisions. It is great to be able to bounce it off a “voice of experience” like your parents, but be sure that the final decision is yours, meaning you and your spouse. For example, when DH and I met, I considered myself a Catholic. The first Christmas while we were dating, I took him to a Midnight Mass….in which this Baptist raised boy felt SO out of place. He didn’t know anything about the liturgy that was going on…. For me, the Baptist church was very radical from what I grew up knowing. We mutually decided to get married in my Mom’s Lutheran church. It felt like a “happy medium” to both of us (and we loved her pastor!) But after the wedding was over, then the task set in to find a church to raise our children in…. we looked at more Lutheran churches where we lived and never really found a home. DH took me to a nondenominational Bible Church, and we immediately found a home that we felt really comfortable with. My parents….to say they were mortified was probably an understatement. My dad (remember? My biggest cheerleader growing up?) labeled me a “Bible thumper”. I cannot tell you how much that hurt. We stayed at that church for 10 years. I was already a believer for about 4 years, and I struggled with baptism. My parents baptized me when I was a baby. For them that was good enough, and I didn’t need to be baptized again. When I decided to follow the Biblical model of baptism, I was really hurt that my parents didn’t come. It was their way of disagreeing with my decision, but it didn’t change my decision. I think that was one of the first steps I took, realizing that I needed to do what was best for me and my family. I still respect and remain in a good relationship with my parents, but I can tell you, it is different than when I was single and at home with them. Now my home is in the Nutmeg household.

Please be sure to tune in for Part 2 of this article in which we’ll talk about the responsibility of parents who have a child who is marrying, and the children who are getting married.

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