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Our readers asked:

Does the Bible Say Men Should Love Wives More than Their Mothers?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

Question: In spiritual law, men leave their mothers for their wife, when they marry. But if a man chooses to love and cherish the mother OVER the wife, isn’t this a conflict that God would not encourage?

There is nothing in scripture that declares that a man should love or cherish his wife more than his mother, but it simply points to a change in the relationship that marriage occasions for the man (Genesis 2:24). A man is called to a different manner of loving his mother than his wife, and these different kinds of loving can’t be compared quantitatively. Once a man marries, his relationship with his mother will necessarily need to be reoriented, not lessened. If he discovers that he can’t find it in himself to love another woman as deeply (though differently) as he loves his mother, or he consistently finds himself deeming his partner less worthy of consideration and respect than his mother, this gives reason for pause before entering into marriage.

If a man is looking for a hard and fast rule of “Who should I listen to? My mom or my wife?” the Bible doesn’t offer an answer. A mother and wife aren’t meant to be set against each other in a competition for the man’s loyalty or love. If there is a conflict between the two, there is no spiritual law stating that the man must “take sides” with one or the other. After all, loving and cherishing isn’t about taking sides at all, but respecting and accepting two different ways of being, and moving forward in both relationships with as much integrity and authenticity as possible.

The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Melanie Walsh

    This is a poor answer. He leaves his parents and becomes one with his wife, so if that is that not a clear statement from the Lord that his wife has greater relevance, I’m not sure what is. No where in Scripture does it say a man should cherish his mother (but it does say that about his wife, as well as that he should love her like Christ loves the Church). It says he should honor his parents, which doesn’t mean that he has to cherish or obey them.

    This is rather odd, to suggest that his relationship with his mother not be lessened when he starts his own family, or that he should question if he could love his wife as deeply (instead of more). I would think a scipture instructor would know that the Bible never said a man must love and cherish his mother, but DID say that about his wife.

  • dwayne ward

    hey i have a huge problem as well. my mother in law(i am the husband, and it is my wifes mother) talks to her ex all of the time, shares his wereabouts and his life with my life and constantly talks about how great he is and how great he is doing and has tried to get my wife to talk to him in the past and this even went on before we were married. i clean her house for her, mow her lawn, do the dishes if we eat there, always help her carry in groceries, lead her dughter to the lord(which cody didnt and he is an alcoholic, but he was a good guy, amber still did him wrong just like he did her wrong) and we just got into a huge aguement about how she told cody that amber was panicking to call him and wanted to talk to him and he was responded with an i cant wait until she calls. then when i bring it up my wife has no recollection about it and her mom flies off on me saying she was just arggravating and it wasnt true he really wasnt expecting her to call…? which doesnt make sense and judging on the past….it doesnt seem right. which i know i should let go of the past but it was recently so it still stings and raises questions. now i am leaving for the army jul 28th, this month. and i tried to apologize just to set things into a smooth motion even though hinestly i shouldnt have had too, and i still didnt get an apology back and there is still tension. i even apologized a 2nd time and told her that i do care about her and how she feels about me and things. and still there is tension. i also asked her if she could keep my wife out of her and codys conversations and stuff and said that is all that i would ever ask after this to be done and that was after my second apology and realized there was still tension. now i know i shouldnt have but if she wasnt going to apologize or try to make anything better, or even let it be better then i was at least going to get that across so it doesnt arise again. but my wife really didnt take my side about any of this…even though she has cheated on me with him, been checking up on his girlfriend on facebook, and didnt even tell her mom she was wrong or stand up for me…..i just want to know, should she have? and how should i even handle this situation. i leave so soon, and i dont want something happeneing while im gone.

  • Jill

    What if the father in law curses out the daughter in law, when she didn’t act or respond in kind? And the husband sits there while his father verbally kicks her around, saying things like I want to get rid of her?
    What’s going on there?

    • Carrie Raye

      Bahahaha. I understand you completely. I have been married 15 yrs and My husband still just sits there when one of the hotheads in his family goes on a rampage. Doesn’t seem to ever change.

  • Pam@wake up

    Lisa , I have the opposite. I totally raised my grandson from infancy.He is married and has a son.His wife gas never held me as any importance in their family.Now her family is number 1 all the time.I feel especially since I raised him I should be equal to her family.She says no and does not allow me to see baby at all.Whats worse is grandson allows this.Last year he was kept from me for punishment when I stood up for myself , for six weeks.I had that baby alot cause they worked weekends.Now I stood up again and am totally out.It hurts bad!!!!

  • Lisa Sahadeo


    • Rose Carr

      Jesus referred to his earthly mother as woman. Mothers are the instrument of God to bring forth His treasures. Your husband ust stauy truthful to you and respect his mother. You are now his partner, companion, you share your body with him therefore you are one. He must part from his mother and try not to please his family. How could he ever askkng you to move out in order to please his family if he got married to you with a promise to God stating that he will be there in sickness and health and all the other promises? Marriage should not be a secret, it is a Godly covenent. I experienced that kind of dislike from my mother in law but I put my hand in my Father’s hand. Go back to your husband, tell the world that you love him, let love reigns and if he can’t be open about your maariage and fear rejection, then your husband has no truthfulness. How does he protct you at night if he is not with you? Challenge your marriage and in laws in the powerful name of Jesus! I pray for your situation for God to end your pain.

      • Lisa Sahadeo

        You are so right. I no all these things. I no what’s right and what’s wrong. I don’t no why my life have to be this complicated. I guess I’m just not his first priority. His mom is and always will be. Like I said I trust in god tht he will guide us through this and save our marriage. Thank u so much for ur advice and support. I truly appreciate it. Thank u.

      • http://catchthatkid.com/ FatherTuckerThechildfcker

        u r welcome god luvs u n so do i

    • JuliePurple

      To my mind, you’re better off without that wishy-washy wimp. But if you’re really keen on staying with him, let me ask you: is his mother Catholic? If she is, then you go over there and tell her that you and her son are married. (And it might be a good idea to bring proof. You never know.) If she’s into considering herself to be one who follows Catholic teaching, then she really has nothing to say about it any more. You’re married. End of story. And watch his reactions. Does he finally support you, or does he have a hissy fit and get mad at *you* for doing what *he* should have done a long time ago?
      Is it his house? Is that why he asked you to move out? Either way, is he contributing anything to your support? Have you had any offspring with him? If so, he is legally bound to provide child support. Don’t be a martyr to his weaknesses. It isn’t doing him a favor by enabling his not taking responsibility for his actions.

      • Lisa Sahadeo

        I agree with you totally and thank u so much for your advice. But unfortunately the situation is much more complicated. But your view on this helped me alot and I’m greatful. I’m just trusting in god that he will guide me and my husband through this. I trust that the Lord will save my marriage. God knows I put my all into this marriage. God knows what I feel I’m my heart for my husband. Thank u so much.

      • JuliePurple

        Lisa, I totally believe it’s much more complicated than that! But if I have been of help in your very difficult situation, then I am glad. I wish the very best outcome for you and for all concerned. Best of luck to you! (And by the way, if you do bring proof of your marriage, it might be best to bring a copy of the original, you know what I mean? No telling what anyone will do when feeling threatened. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to have the original in a safe deposit box. If it sounds like I don’t trust him or his mother… then I got it across accurately.)

    • Dharmendra

      God is with you for sure. In a man’s life first priority must be his wife, biblically. Its God who joins husband and wife and make them one. Its better for you and your husband to live in other far place from parents, (if living with them causing problems in your relationship)

    • Melanie Walsh

      He was made to be one with you and letting someone tear you apart. She is sinning by coming between you. Can you see a counselor together?

  • Andriarelle gamie

    I pray everyday that my man love me more than his mother oneday. Before I read this article I thought I was really selfish and I don’t know what to do. Everytime we talk about this he tell me that he loves me more than anything even his own mom but it’s obvious that it’s not true. He is away and every night instead of calling me he is calling his mother. And I am so afraid. Does that mean that he is not really ready to build a family with me? He said that’s all he wants, build a family with me, being with me but I don’t know anymore I am so confuse.

  • JuliePurple

    Love cannot be mandated. Behaviour can. An individual has a responsibility to care for family; if married, the spouse should come first, generally speaking. That doesn’t mean that other family should be ignored, though. Really, it’s common sense.. You don’t need a book to tell you that. But Elishia, unless your fiance’s mother is in some way incapacitated or otherwise lacking the ability to care for herself, it sounds like the apron strings are just a wee bit tight there, eh? And he has a responsibility to you now, since he has affected your health by making you pregnant. And of course, if a child is born, he is responsible for that, too. It probably wouldn’t hurt if you were to consult someone more used to dealing with this kind of thing… maybe your doctor could refer you to a family or relationship counselor? Because having a kid is a hugs responsibility, as you know! This isn’t the time to just sort of hope it all works out and get all philosophical. You don’t have a lot of time to muck about. I sure do wish you very good luck with it all.

  • http://batman-news.com Elishia Welsh

    my fiance always picks spending time with his mother of his family he eats meals with her buys everything she wants or needs he takes care of her. if she goes on vacation when she comes home its all about mommy he calls her. its weird and ruining our relationship.i dont agree with it becuase it is way too much like he obsesses with her.i still yet to have met her but we live next door and i am currently having a baby by him.i dont knoow what to do im almost ready to say im done is this selfish of me?

    • jimnjoy

      I don’t think you are being selfish in this situation. Why have you not met his mother, and you live next door to her? Why are you not married? Something is very wrong here. Please get someone who is close to you and is aware of the entire situation to advise you. God bless you and your baby…and the daddy…and his mother. You all need prayer.

  • Thuso

    I am very sorry, I totally differ with the statement. A man should not love a woman more than his mother but husbands should love their wives more than anybody else. That is why God commanded the man to leave his mother and father after he has take a wife. Husbands love to their wives is compared to Christ love to the church. Husbands SHOULD and MUST love their wives more than anybody else. This is biblical. Ephesians 5:28. Biblical when the man takes a wife, there is no connection between him and the his parents either than honouring them. Once you become a husband your love, care and responsibility is your wife. As a husband you have a responsibility to love your wife and treat her with dignity, honor and understanding as she is a weaker vessel. Read 1 Peter 3:7

    • Rose Carr

      Reading Thuso’s reply a year later (as I discovered the site only now) , I say Amen! You are truly a follower of God and definitely a brilliant Christian teacher. God bless.

    • JuliePurple

      Thuso, love cannot be mandated. Behaviour can. A person has a responsibility to care for family, starting with those closest. With married people, it’s the spouse (and children, if any). After that, to say that “there is not connection between him and … his parents” is just silly. To say that a person stops loving parents after marriage is just cold. Think about it: if you have children, when and if they marry, would you expect them to stop loving you?
      And did you put in that bit about “a weaker vessel” just to be annoying?

  • jimnjoy

    Genesis 2:24 says ” …a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” They become a new family. We are to honor our parents and this does not cease with the leaving and the union of husband with wife. However, the word “leave” indicates a transfer of priority to the new family.

    • MIKE

      First of all I think you guys are idiots. Sometimes people who have unusual circumstance have to live with their mom and do what their mom say’s because otherwise their lives would be in harms way. Being a christian wife means that you are his helper. SO IF ANYTHING YOU SHOULD DO YOUR CHRISTIAN! DUTY AND HELP YOUR HUSBAND TO UNIFY HIS FAMILY. Nice on the old testament virtue

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