Tears raced down my face as my husband, Rob, and I passed snow-covered fields along the Colorado highway on our way back home from a holiday visit with my parents. If anyone had told me when I was single that marriage would contain moments like this, I wouldn't have believed her.
"I don't know what's gotten into me, Rob," I said between sobs to my husband of seven months. "I've never cried like this before after leaving Mom and Dad's."
I'd been dry-eyed earlier that morning when we'd shared good-bye hugs with my family. Then, Rob had suggested I stay with my folks an extra week. He could drive home alone, and I could ride back to our home in Missouri with my brother, who'd caravaned out with us for the holiday but planned to stay a few days longer.
In a burst of gratitude, I hugged Rob. With a 12-hour drive between home-with-Rob in Missouri and home-with-Mom-and-Dad in Colorado, I knew we couldn't afford another visit to my folks until next Christmas.
Just as quickly as my excitement came, it died away. The image of Rob traveling alone to a silent house while I enjoyed the close friendship of my family troubled me. I felt as though I'd be deserting Rob. I knew I was making more of the situation than it deserved, but I realized I was setting a precedent as to where my allegiance would lie.
A verse I'd heard often at weddings leapt to mind: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife" (Mark 10:7, KJV). Silently I added, And a woman shall leave her father and mother, and cleave to her husband. All at once, I knew that leaving had been one of the hardest parts of cleaving.1