- Blood Is Thicker Than
- By Barrington H. Brennen, March 10,
Question: Dear Sir: My husband spends
more time and money with his mother than he does with me, his wife, and his
children. When I do have a chance to talk with my mother-in-law about it,
she always retorts with the old proverb, "Blood is thicker than water." Once
in a while even my husband’s remarks suggest that he should be more loyal to
his mother who gave him birth, than to his wife and children. This makes me
feel cheated and abandoned. Should this really be this way? I feel that my
husband does not understand what it means to be one in marriage. Please help
Answer: Dear friend: Obviously, blood is thicker than water because
of the number of cells present in 70 percent of water. However, the old
adage is not talking about literal blood. What does it really mean when one
says, "Blood is thicker than water?" Here is what it means:
"Our loyalty to our family—that is, to our blood relations—is strong no
matter how we may feel about them."
This is not the only way we use the proverb. It is also used when we
want to "distance blood" family members or non-blood
relatives. The relationship here is closer than any other kind of
relationship. Some mothers-in-law often use the phrase to send a message
to their daughters-in-law that their sons are closer to them because
they gave birth to them. It’s often used to refer to a misguided kind of
- KEEP OUT
When controversies arise, this phrase is used to divide family members
and ostracize others. Hereare the messages given when this proverb is used:
"Keep out. This is not for you right now." "You have no voice or vote in
this conversation." "Your opinion does not matter here because we are not
blood relatives." "I know you married my son, but his responsibility is to
take care of me first."
Where did this overused proverb come from? "This proverb on the bonds of
family and common ancestry first appeared in the medieval German beast
epic, 'Reinecke Fuch' (c. 1130 'Reynald the Fox') by Heinrich der
Glichezaere, whose words in English read, 'Kin-blood is not spoiled by
In 1412 it was stated this way: "Relationships within the family are
stronger than any other kind." The saying was first cited in John Lydgate's
'Troy Book'. In most countries around the world this proverb is used with
similar intent and meaning.
- MARRIAGE IS THICKER THAN BLOOD
- Yes, blood is thicker than water; however, marriage is thicker
than blood. The relationship between a husband and a wife is by the
Creator’s design and very nature closer than any other kind of
relationship, even between a parent and child. Marriage is indeed
"thicker than blood." The nine months of pregnancy and the long painful
hours in the delivery room cannot match the intense passionate closeness
between a husband and a wife. This is something many Bahamians have not
grown to understand and respect. Too many Bahamians, especially mothers
and grandmothers, have not respected the sacred union of their
children’s marriages. They have made it their duty to challenge the true
meaning and practice of loyalty to one’s spouse. The truth is that they
have actually ruined countless marriages because of their interferences
and misguided notions.
The Bible states in Matt 19:5 and Mark 10:8: "And they twain shall be one
flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh." The term "one flesh"
is used to describe the unique and sacred union of a man and wife, and no
other. What is one flesh in marriage?
flesh in marriage encompasses the blending of the physical (sexual),
emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, and financial aspects of both
husband and wife."
There is no other relationship that involves such integration and intense
closeness. However, many get involved in similar but non-Biblical kinds of
"oneness" relationships. We call them common-law, shacking-up, or
cohabiting, relationships. Generally, neither of these involves mother and
son or father and daughter. However, if parent and child become sexually
involved, it is called incest. Incest is morally, legally, and spiritual
wrong. This alone suggests that there is no comparison between a marriage
relationship [of a man and a woman] and a parent-child relationship. Even a
definition of marriage makes no mention of parents, grand parents, or any
other earthly relative. Note carefully my definition of marriage:
"Marriage is a divine covenant between a man and a woman
with similar goals and values, to live together in a permanent, loving, and
mutually supportive relationship."
Parents, it is high time that you left your married children alone.
Get out of their business. Get out of their bedrooms. Let them truly
become "one flesh." Parents, stop demanding from your married children a
greater loyalty to you than to their spouses. You are messing up their
lives. Stop calling them on the phone and insisting that they "come over
right now" to do something that could wait until a more feasible time.
- PARENTS MUST KEEP OUT
Sons and daughters, stand up on your own two feet and remind your
demanding parents or grandparents that you are married and that means your
spouse and children are number one in your life. You no longer will share
personal information with them that should only be shared with your spouse.
Although you value their opinions, you will only seek their advice when you
chose to do so. You will make your spouse the primary beneficiary on your
insurance and not your parents. From this point onward you will be spending
more time with your spouse and children than with your parents.
Remember parents, your sons or daughters are not married to you. Yes,
blood is thicker than water, but marriage is thicker than blood.
Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and counseling
psychologist. Send your questions and comments to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau,
The Bahamas or email
or Call 242-327-1980