Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24 KJV

Let’s be honest—we were all born into a family that was broken, raised in an environment that was less than perfect and learned survival skills that keep us from receiving the love we need. The extremely powerful reality is this: the bonding experience in our early years of life determined how we would relate to other people, deal with our emotions, and get our needs met as adults.

One of the major obstacles to a healthy marriage, even after being married 20 years, is that many spouses are still as emotionally bound to their families of origin as they are to their spouses and they don’t even know it. This is an indisputable law of human nature that cannot be broken except by the grace of God. “…. for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” Deuteronomy 5:9,10.

God says clearly that the sins (iniquities) of those who have gone before us are passed down to our children, grandchildren and even our great grandchildren. Identifying and addressing these “iniquities” or family patterns of relating is not about placing blame. Instead it’s about facing what happened and taking an honest look at how our past shaped our present marriage relationship.

As we uncover these destructive emotional patterns, which are both confusing and hurtful, we can then understand how they negatively affect our relationships. Sometimes we realize we have been acting out an unconscious “script” that is as old as our ancestral tree. In making the links and connections, we become able to change our thinking and incorporate new (more realistic) perspectives into our views of life and of ourselves.

Working through these issues is a process and takes time. But to do so helps us face and overcome fears, frees us to pursue dreams and goals, helps us achieve peace and helps shape the success of future intimate relationships. Let us, with God’s help, make a commitment to break the sinful generational attitudes and behaviors that have kept us stuck. Despite turmoil and unresolved hurt in relationships, there are three points of hope for all of us:


  1. There is hope for the healing of past hurts and pains.
  2. There is courage for the faint hearted to deal with those past hurts.
  3. There is wisdom for all who seek to be transformed into the character of Christ.