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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

When you marry you have to leave your old family behind in order to create a new one. When you marry, you make sacred vows with your spouse, God, and nobody else. When you marry, you start a new family.

This holds true whether or not you get along with your old family. (We will talk about family you get along with in the next article.)

Kris and I have attended numerous weddings of friends and family. We’ve heard promises of love and fidelity, honor and cherishing, doing right before God, so on and so forth.

We’ve never heard, “I swear to hold the beliefs of my family dearer than your beliefs,” or anything even comparable to that statement.

When Kristin accepted my marriage proposal, a suspicious thing happened — her family abruptly went frigid. Over phone calls, they consistently delivered assumption after assumption about my character, attempting to dissuade Kristin from matrimony.

Kristin’s View:

There’s no gentle way to tell this story because there’s little gentleness about it.

A horrible thing happened. My family turned on me. At first they were concerned that I was making a hasty decision in getting married, but their unease became an excuse to throw daggers at Eric’s personality.

Girl Crying on PhoneMy heart broke, and the grief in losing my family’s trust became a living creature swallowing up all the tender, newfound joy I had in being engaged. Every phone conversation ended in heart-wrenching sorrow as I staggered under the attacks of a man they chose not to know.

Malicious gossip began spreading from and through my own family members. I heard my beautiful future plans as a wife twisted into an unrecognizable distortion. My pristine reputation was slandered. I was savagely ripped apart. I couldn’t breathe.

Intimate pieces of me were brutally torn and I couldn’t hold my wounds tight enough together to stop the bleeding. These were wounds I wasn’t sure I would survive.

Eric’s View:

As the friction between Kris and her family escalated, her conflict nurtured my own. The vigilant-protector side of me wanted to scream and fight, while the compassionate-family-man side of me wanted to see us all together, working cohesively.

I felt I could be the vigilant-protector in this situation, but I could not be the compassionate-family-man — I couldn’t force Kristin’s family to accept me, but I could fight against them.

All of us working together was ideal; fighting was pragmatic. What can you do when your choices are either impossible or undesirable?

I’m ashamed to admit that I did fight against them for a time. I convinced myself they had no right to pass judgment on Kristin’s choice; she was an adult and could decide for herself. Aggression only breeds aggression and I saw first-hand how aggression caused Kristin’s suffering.

Kristin’s Analysis:

In the end I had to make a decision, to remain a daughter and sister to my family by not getting married or to leave them and cleave to Eric; therein building a family of my own. I chose Eric, because I truly believed that he was (and still is) the perfect match for me as a husband.

Having my childhood family ties cut so severely blessed me by having Eric as my sole support for the road ahead. It gave us a jumpstart on learning how to talk to one another when things didn’t go as expected or when incorrect assumptions were acted upon. God truly can turn every bad thing to His glory.

Eric’s Analysis:

We faced a problem. Initially, we thought it was Kristin’s family didn’t like her choice in a husband. But that wasn’t the real problem. Then we thought it was Kristin had to choose either me or her family, and I had to choose either the impossible ideal or the upsetting pragmatic. Again, wrong.

Our problem was the solutions we’d come up with — where no matter what choice we made someone ended up hurt. How did we solve it? We dropped the ball. That isn’t to say we accidentally let the ball slip from our hands. It is to say we didn’t like the way the game was being scored, so we stopped.

We intentionally quit playing their game and started our own. Our new game was called “Eric and Kristin Build a Life Together,” and Kristin’s family was invited to join but no longer make the rules.

To put it simply, we stopped looking at Kristin’s family as the problem (which it never was), and started looking at how we were handling our circumstance. We gripped the problem with our oun hands; thus giving us the control.

How would Kris and I ever be able to develop a loving family together if we constantly focused on the turmoil around us? Turmoil, mind you, neither of us had any control over.

We know our friends and family love us, but in spite of all they’ve done and said, they don’t know what is best for us. God knows, and thankfully we listen to Him.

You should too.

P.S. Today marks the first day of our seventh year of marriage, and we are happier, our relationship is hardier, and our love is more heartfelt than ever before.

Image: ©iStockphoto.com/sdominik

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