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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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Our readers asked:

When a Man Marries Should He Love His Wife More Than His Mother?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

Q: 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 (Gen 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 finds 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.

 
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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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