The Two Shall Become One?


Recently I have had a major falling out with my parents (prefer not to go into detail). My spouse no longer feels comfortable being around them especially with our newborn. I find myself stuck because I want to try to make things right with my parents but I feel like I have been putting more energy into my relationship with them than with what my wife and son need.

What does it really mean when scripture says “A man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh?”


It means your wife and child come first. You say you’ve been putting more energy into your relationship with your parents than with your wife & child – that’s the opposite of what you should be doing.


Two become one in the marital act. Notice this is specific to becoming “one flesh”, not “one person” or “one spirit” or “one mind”, etc.

You are still two distinct people with distinct opinions, feelings, etc.

We are not commanded to kick our parents to the curb when we marry (in fact, remember how Jesus reacted to those who were not caring for their parents?).

The hierarchy of relationships changes, if your mom is having a stroke and at the same time you are supposed to meet your wife for lunch, the most important thing is to get mom to a hospital.

I will be honest, I have had exactly one disagreement with my in laws over decades of marriage, my husband has never had a disagreement with my parents. My adult child’s partner and I have never had so much as a tiny spat. I have to stretch my mind to imagine squabbling over how much time is spent with other people vs spent with me.

My advice, remind your parents that right now, the newborn and your wife need all of the attention and time you can spare. Ask them to stop arguing with your wife and ask them to please make up for the falling out. The ball is in their court, they are adults. Tell them that “the ball is in your court, mom and dad. Do not force me to choose between you and my spouse. Apologize and let’s all move on.”


The husband and wife will be one flesh in the child.


on the surface, sounds like Dr. Ray Gourendi (spelling, sorry) would help. Just heard the program a couple days ago about, “thinking like Jesus” by Dr. Ray … sounds like that will give your family a bit of insight as to how ya’ll can get along real nice.

best of luck


You are in a Sacramental bond with your wife. You made promises before God and pledged your life to her. You are not in such a covenant with your parents. You are to honor them, that is one of the commandments. Your wife is first however.

Is your wife typically unreasonable? How about your parents? Are any of them demanding? Is this just people adjusting to a new family dynamic or are you concerned that people in your life are somewhat manipulative and you are not sure how to handle it?

It’s a bit difficult to judge without details. I don’t know if your wife is upset because you talk on the phone to your mom three times a week for 15 minutes, or if your wife is upset because you’re at your parents’ daily for 4 hours visiting. Praying for you.


They talk poorly of her. They kicked me out because she didn’t feel she wanted my sister as a bridesmaid. ever since then any milestone I have had they are more concerned about how they are involved or what they want out of me instead of being there to make my life easier or how to be a good husband. There a lot of negativity and manipulation. My wife doesn’t want it around my son. I don’t blame her. But it’s hard.


It’s hard because you’ve probably grown up in what sounds to me like a toxic environment and just didn’t recognize it as such, because to you, it was normal. This is akin to abuse victims who won’t leave their abusers. You don’t need to cut them off entirely (or you can, that’s up to you), but you need to be firm and have a challenging conversation about this with them - for the sake of your marriage and your own wellbeing.


Boundaries. Set boundaries.


Your loyalty belongs to your spouse first. This doesn’t mean you are to jettison your mom and dad, but ultimately, you are responsible for your family (wife and kids).


They broke most them :frowning:


Then be very clear “until you can respect my wife and me as adults, I have to limit my time with you.”

Perhaps a sit down meeting with your pastor where he can remind them about the simple charity of Christianity?


Hmm. Does the Church say that the marital act is what makes two ‘one’? I think Paul, in his epistle, points out that non-marital ‘marital’ acts are non-normative. That is, that these non-normative acts run contrary to what “marital acts” really are; and therefore, these non-normative acts do not do what true marital acts do!


As I read your post I remember my mother in law whom my husband and I no longer speak to because of those words you mentioned such as manipulation and other things like gossiping lies and hatred behind backs, ignoring my children for years while showing my husband how much she cares for her other grandchildren etc… but mostly her manipulation. We know how she’s doing because of my husbands dad who keeps in touch with her so my husband always gets news on her from him and I wonder if that’s honoring her. It’s hard to explain how she damaged our marriage for almost 2 decades and the bond we have now that she’s no longer in the picture causing strife.


They aren’t religious… But I see what you mean


Two become one flesh. That is a clear description of the marital act.

Aside from that, I do not understand what you are saying at all. St Paul said that he wished everyone would remain celibate as he was.


Do two who are not married become ‘one flesh’, when they have sex outside of marriage?


I will add to this. I have been married for over 30 years. I come from a big family, as does my husband. We don’t ever fight with our families. Our families don’t fight amongst themselves, either. I attribute it to us all staying the heck out of eachothers’ business. Set your parents down and let them know you love them (if you do) and that you want a good, healthy relationship with them. But that means they need to observe boundaries and stay out of your business. And you need to stay out of theirs. The bridesmaid situation is a perfect example of something that was none of their business. Use it as an example, if you must. If they refuse to observe the boundaries, then don’t interact with them until they are willing to do their best.


The part about the “one flesh” is a reminder to go to confession to break the spiritual yokes I had with previous partners. Just go in, “I did x with y” and repeat… next thing you know things get better for you.

Off topic maybe but hey, a fellow Catholic experiencing family drama with a wife is likely to benefit. Now is a good a time as any!!


Your parents have to accept that there will be new ways of celebrating Christmas and other holidays, where to spend the holidays, who does what and when as you are now married. Your wife is part of the family as well as her relatives. A marriage is not only a man and wife but two families that “marry”. There is a saying that you “marry your mother-in-law”.

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