Marriage, Part One

This week on The Allender Center Podcast, Dan’s wife, Becky Allender, joins him to launch a new series all about the beauty and brokenness that is part of a healthy, life-giving marriage. The themes at the heart of this conversation—leaving, cleaving, and weaving—are also a foundational part of the book Intimate Allies (which Dan co-wrote with Dr. Tremper Longman III) and The Allender Center’s Intimate Mystery Conference.

The kind of leaving Dan and Becky are talking about this week goes far beyond geographic separation or physical and financial independence.

Dan: “It’s a profoundly psychological, spiritual, core heart issue to leave.”

Dan and Becky share from their own experiences in nearly 40 years of marriage—particularly the story of their early years as a married couple, learning what it meant to leave their families of origin and grow in loyalty for each other. Becky reflects on how her role as a family bridge builder meant that, early on, she felt torn between her parents and her relationship with Dan, always wavering between upsetting Dan or disappointing her parents.

Becky: “It was an exhausting role, and it wasn’t very life-giving. […] It seemed a tearing apart, and I didn’t know how to love [Dan] fully and also still love my parents. I was very, very conflicted. I felt like there was no way to win.”

Dan: “The scriptures are so clear that your loyalty to your family, your kingdom, will supersede your loyalty to your spouse unless you make a very conscious choice, almost a vow—a profound commitment. […] The reality is that we had not counted the cost of the unseen, unstated loyalty that we each had to our parents.”

Dan shares about how his role in his own family of origin was to be the star, keeping others engaged and delighted through his exploits. This meant he was admittedly self-absorbed at the start of their marriage, and the ways in which he would seek—almost demand—loyalty from Becky turned out to be quite harmful. It took many years for Dan and Becky to learn, together, what it meant to honor their parents while still growing in loyalty to each other.

Dan: “Like every marriage, like every relationship with Jesus, it’s a long, long, unexpectedly strange route.”

On next week’s podcast, Dan and Becky will continue talking about all of the risk and battles involved in the kind of leaving that allows couples to begin to cleave to each other and weave together a relationship built on respect, freedom, and ever-deepening love.