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May 18, 2022
Leaving and Cleaving: How to Protect your Marriage from Excessive Parental Influence | S3 E19

We're helping married couples step out from under their parents' influence and truly embrace their spouses as their primary focus - and helping the parents to develop healthy boundaries as their married children step out on their own.


Is your marriage too crowded? 

If you had to pause to think about that, you may be dealing with excessive influence from well-meaning but over-involved parents. 

In this refreshingly honest episode, Steve and Mary Alessi share their experiences and wisdom in 30+ years of marriage, and explain how they navigated leaving the protection and covering of their parents in order to build a new legacy. They open up about their new season of being the parents of married children and learning how to give them space to establish their own homes, and provide a template for young and experienced couples to truly embrace their marriages as their primary focus. 


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More Resources

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Transcript

Steve Alessi  

Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Family Business with the Alessis. Today, it's just Mary and me in the podcast booth. We're talking about things we don't talk about on Sunday, and we recognize how family is everybody's business. And that's why we like to bring you The Family Business podcast. Again, we're wearing some cool shirts, thanks to some very dear people in our church that want to help us prepare for the arrival of your first granddaughter,

 

Mary Alessi  

Your first granddaughter. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Chip. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Our first grand baby. Our family's growing, and we're so excited. Any day now. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. So, we're going to actually talk about relationship, of marriage, and husband and wife, and marriage, and all of that. And Mary, you know, we're sitting here, goodness, 35. We're going to celebrate 35 years of marriage. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Very, very soon. 

 

Steve Alessi  

In October of this year, 35 years. If we didn't do what we're going to talk about doing today, we probably wouldn't be wearing these t-shirts. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I promise you, we would not. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We wouldn't have made it this far. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Not at all. But here we are, 35 years, married. That, I think it qualifies us to be able to talk about this particular subject, because it's what you did. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

35 years ago, that has allowed us to get established in what we have, ultimately, been able to build our lives upon. But here's the whole thought, we're talking about leaving, and cleaving. Two words that we find in a verse in the Bible, where it talks about that a man should leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yep. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So we're talking about that. How does a couple get this mindset that, when they get married, there is this cleaving to the spouse in such a way that they leave the connection, or at least, the emotional connection of the parents, or that prior life, whatever that was, and become one with their spouse. So, tell us about your story back in the day.

 

Mary Alessi  

So, while I'm at you, I was 19. We got married pretty quickly. And we felt pretty hard and pretty fast. And then I had to leave my ministry family, that I was very proud of. And of course, within that time, reference, my parents got divorced. So, it made it very difficult. But I wanted to run in support, and protect my mother. But I also made a decision to get married, and in that, it may not have to leave and cleave. And I was married now, I was a wife now, I was a Mrs. now. 

 

I'm fortunate to have had a mother who was, you know, she's a product of the '50s. So, in that day and age, wives supported their husbands, you know? You didn't have the struggle, culturally, that we have today. So, that was never anything she resented, that I didn't rush back to her. And she never felt like I owed her anything. She understood the power of me leaving, and cleaving. And so— but that did not make it easy, because all you've ever known when you get married is your mom, your dad, your family, whatever that family situation is, it's all I knew. And I had a twin sister. 

 

So, it's not just Mom and Dad, it's siblings, too, that you're close to. The culture of your family, the way your family does things, you know, our families may be more sarcastic, and we joke, and you marry into a family that's more serious, and they think sarcasm is rude, and nasty. And you're like, "Well, y'all need to lighten up. Sarcasm is fun." So, there's a lot that is wrapped up in that leaving and cleaving. It's not just, "Leave your parents and don't do what they tell you to do, do what your husband tells you to do, or what your wife tells you to do." It's bigger than that. It's a cultural process as well, that you really do have to leave and cleave. And it's not—

 

Steve Alessi  

What is— First, before we go in there, let's remember, you're 19. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

There are some people today in their 20s and 30s that haven't mastered this. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's true. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And it's causing problems in their marriage. Or maybe it's keeping them from even stepping into a commitment of marriage, because emotionally, or physically, they're not willing to leave the influence of the family parents, and then cleave. You know, those are two strong words. So, what's cleaving? If we look at that. 

 

Mary Alessi  

So, I really was looking it up, to really understand that word. I've always thought "cleave" meant clean. Where it doesn't really mean clean, and I just looked it up here, which everyone can do, this is an easy exercise here. It actually has two meanings that are opposite of each other. And you know the Bible is very specific when it uses words, the words it uses are on purpose. But it says, "to split or sever something, especially along a natural line or grain." 

 

Steve Alessi  

This is cleave. 

 

Mary Alessi  

This is to cleave, split or sever, especially along a natural line, or grain. It even says, "The large axe his father used to cleave wood for the fire." So, there's a precise nature to that word. Okay, that is also a cutting, you leave, and then you're cutting into the past to cleave into this new relationship with your spouse. But the other term, which I just think this is so interesting, is that it's either to stick together, or split apart, either to stick together or split apart. So, it really is a bigger definition, that word, than what we see. 

 

And if we don't do it, because when we started talking about this, I was coming at it from the standpoint of painting a picture of what does it look like if you don't leave and cleave? If you stay and cling? What does that do to the relationship?

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah, because, babe, I think different cultures can— I think Americans do this better, and the American culture. It's something that they're like, ready for you, when you get 18. Get out of the door, go do your thing. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Totally.

 

Steve Alessi  

Certain cultures that are more Hispanic in nature, seemingly, are holding on to that. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

They want to keep that family bond, which we all understand. But, sometimes, if it's taken to the extreme, then it becomes detrimental to the marital relationship. So, in this case, in our Latin culture, the father figure, and the mother figure, could be just as strong, and the spouse can't leave. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Not that it's a physical leaving. Yeah, they get married, they move in together, they leave the house, but there's an emotional tie, or a mental tie, that they just can't break away from. And I'll tell you, as a male, being married to you, if all you ever did was bring your dad into the equation. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, my gosh. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It would have driven me crazy. You and I wouldn't be here today. If you could not leave that influence, good or bad, of your dad. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I had to be the guy. So, some people may be saying, "Oh, it's so cruel to leave my dad like that, my mom like that." No, it's cruel to your spouse, when you don't. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It is. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And your goal is to move forward and start making your world, your legacy being built, your life being built. And it requires a decision, and then a continual action along the way, to keep mom and dad in their place as parents. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That loved you and raised you. But now you've become the husband and the wife that your own family needs. So, you have to make that cutting. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi 

That slicing, and it's not easy. But you got to do it, and you can't be guilted by the parent not to do it. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. Because— 

 

Steve Alessi  

That's not right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's not right. And—

 

Steve Alessi  

And parents will do that. I see the challenge, already, that I have. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Talk about it. 

 

Steve Alessi  

No. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Come on. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That's for me and my counselor. Yep.

 

Mary Alessi  

I am your counselor, no? But, you know, really processing that, cleave word, from the biological— because it says, in biology, it's used as a split apart term. You really are having to intentionally split apart. You have to— It says, a man has to leave and split apart from his family, man and woman, you have to leave and split apart. And when you read it from that perspective, of that is your reasonable service in order to have a great relationship. What does that mean? 

 

That does not mean you're not going to be with your family. You're not going to be over there with your family. You're cutting them off, for any input they have in your life. That is not what it means, but what it means is, especially that first year of marriage, it is so important to split apart, give space, give time, have more pride, or as much pride in the family you're building. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Than in the family you came from. 

 

Steve Alessi  

There you go, wow. 

 

Mary Alessi  

And that's not easy, but it's all perception and perspective. You're building something, something is being made here, you were born into the family you came from, that was made for you, you didn't do anything. Now, you're building something. What you're doing is building what you had for your generation, for your children to come. And without leaving, and cleaving, you won't build those wonderful environments of a healthy, fun family, that your kids are proud to be a part of. 

 

So, if you keep looking back to Mom and Dad, and if you do have parents, "Oh, no, the family, the family, the family, you know, you need to make sure you let him know, honey, that we're important too, and you need to make sure she knows we're..." Well, that is divisive, first of all, and it erodes what that young couple needs to build. So, really, the truth is, for it to be successful, mom and dad need to back up, and give room for their son, or their daughter, both, to leave and cleave to one another.

 

That's not natural.

 

It's not.

 

Steve Alessi  

It's not natural for the parents. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's hard. 

 

Steve Alessi  

But it's also why the kid needs it, the young adult needs it, because it's not natural for them. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You have been in that home all those years, and the influence of that parent has helped you throughout your life. And you've made decisions based on their counsel, and pretty much everything that you are, is a result of them. And it's unnatural for you to now cut that, and move on. But just a couple of phrases that we have used, you know? They talked about cutting the umbilical cord. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You have to go ahead and get released. Well, it doesn't mean that you're being severed from the source that gave you life, to continue life. I mean, it doesn't mean your life is over, it means you just severed that source that gave you life for a period. But now you got to start living on your own. 

 

Mary Alessi  

On your own oxygen. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I use the other phrase of cutting the apron strings, for the young woman who cannot just leave her mom. There are phrases like that, because it shows us how hard it is to actually do it. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's so hard. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And as a parent, okay, we're seeing these things that are coming into our life ever since our kids are out of college, getting married, and now having children. I'm glad I can wear the shirt. It's really sweet. And I'm so grateful for the family that did this for us. However, I don't ever want to be the father figure in this family that has to have all the light put on him and outshine my son-in-law, who is the father to Gianna.

 

Mary Alessi  

That you wouldn't have without him. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, yeah, I'm going to enjoy being the Papa, and all my friends, and all of us at the church, we're going to celebrate that, but our celebration in life can never be at the expense where Muina feels as though, "Oh, my gosh. Here he goes, sucking all the oxygen out of the room." I don't want that. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I know you don't. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I want him to be celebrated as much, and I need to let him know that. I need to let my daughter know that, who is his wife, so she never feels like, "Oh, let's give Papa his time with Gianna." I'm going to get my time. She's going to be on a tractor, we're going to go shoot some animals, we're going to— 

 

Mary Alessi  

If you can get her from me.

 

Steve Alessi  

We're going to do whatever we can with her, and hopefully we'll have the alphabet covered A, B, C, G, D, E, F, G, we'll get to G, and have some other kids, with grandkids, get the alphabet covered with all of that. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, you mean other grandkids. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Other grandkids, yes, yes. So, we'll have plenty to have fun with, but I don't ever want it to be about, "Oh, this has got to be about dad." Because dad, or Papa, in this case, because that could put unnecessary pressure. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It puts a strain. 

 

Steve Alessi  

On my daughter, who is now a wife before she's my daughter. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Now she is, that's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, leaving and cleaving requires even the parent, me, to help them sever the cord and say, "Hey, you're good. You deserve the celebration. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because you're worried about my ego being, you know, stepped on here, my pride. That can't happen. So, the parent has to help the child, the adult child, leave.

 

Mary Alessi  

And I want to say this. It's a painful process, it hurts, it hurts on an emotional level. And it isn't extraordinary people, or people that have some extra sense that they were born with, to be able to do this difficult thing. It really is just understanding the principle is true, it's real. And if you value it, and you operate in it, you will find new life and a new sense of relationship with your grown kids, where they want your presence. 

 

But when you don't do this, when you don't help them leave and cleave, and you play your part as the parents, to the possible future grandparents of your children, they're still processing trying to understand what this splitting apart from mom and dad means. Because it's painful, anything that has to be birthed, That's new, there's pain involved. So, it could be that, even Stephanie right now, because she got married so quickly, and she's having a baby so quickly, we backed up to give them room, because we understand the power of leaving and cleaving, and we know we're strong. 

 

Chris Muina has an amazing mom and dad that we love. And we're so thankful, we feel like it's a gift, what special people they are, but they've been a strong part of his life too. All of our influences are strong in our kids' lives. So, sometimes I have to remind Stephanie, "Hey, this is hard for all of us. We're backing up, don't misinterpret our leaving and cleaving." 

 

Steve Alessi  

Right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Because we have to get to this new season of not seeing you as ours anymore. You're not ours anymore. But it hurts to say that, but it's the sweetest thing in the world, because we've just attained a son. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You know, Chris's mom and dad have attained a daughter, and as the years roll on, we're doing things right. We're not creating any wedge, because we could not leave and cleave. We saw the pain of that as something that we needed to, somehow, soothe, and come back in strong. And you know, "that's my daughter, and you need to defend us." No, we have to die to those things, so that what's coming is sweeter. And it's not a suggestion in the Bible. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. No, it's not. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's not a suggestion. So, is it easy? No. Does it take time? Absolutely. But will it be worth it? Sometimes, I can be honest with you, over the years, I've been jealous of my mom, and the comments she will make about you, and how much she loves you. And there was never a time— 

 

Steve Alessi  

She says it? 

 

Mary Alessi  

She used to, before. No, in the beginning, she just loved you. And you always talked about how much you loved her. And you guys had a sweet relationship, even before you met me, and knew me. But throughout all of that, and I go back to her, because she came from a generation that truly understood. That's what you did. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I tried to send you back. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You did try to send me back, and she would not take me back. 

 

She said, "No, she's yours." She said— 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah, that was cute. For real. That was youth. I was so upset about something. I said, "Take her. I'm sending her back." She's like, "No. You married her. She's yours."

 

Mary Alessi  

She blames you for not letting her finish raising me. I'm like, "What in the world?" 

 

Steve Alessi  

What? 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's what she always says, I don't understand what she means. But, anyway, like she needed another year to teach me to be a wife. So, she takes responsibility, I think. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I got it. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Whatever. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yes, okay. 

 

Mary Alessi  

She understood the power, and the process of leaving and cleaving, even under the circumstances where she had an empty nest in a year. And my father was gone. So, you're talking about hard, but when I would call her, because I'd be frustrated about something, and I would start to go there, how mad I was, we'd have some petty, stupid, fight over how you wouldn't go get me a Slurpee from 711, or something childish. You wouldn't let me spend the $20 I wanted to spend, and it wasn't fair. My mother, never one time, sided with me. 

 

She was not an ear to me. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Oh, speak to that. Okay? 

 

Mary Alessi  

She resisted any— There was, because she knew you, there was never a time that, if I could call my mother, and I was really mad, and I thought she'll listen to me, and I'll have a defense partner in my mother, never would she ever go there. She'd say, "Well, Mary, just know this. I know how you are. And I know how you respond to things. Did you do this? Did you say this?" And I would get so mad. It's interesting, but I would try again. You know, I kept thinking, "She's going to be there for me this time." But she never did. She always sided. And you know what? So did your mom. Your mom always sided with me. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Even to this day, she will joke, we've been married 35 years, and she'll say, "You weren't mean, were you?" 

 

Steve Alessi  

Oh, yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

"You didn't hurt her, did you?" She never sides with you. My mother never sides with me. They understand the power because they understand what happens if you don't, and that's the point of this conversation, what's the flip side? Don't leave, and don't leave, stay and cling. What does that do to a marriage? I promise you, it destroys it.

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. You have to be empowered in our home. So, I can't be bringing my mother always into the home, in our conversations, in our motion, whatever that looks like. You had to get to a place where you felt like, "Okay, there's no more comparison to any woman, mother-figure in my life," I couldn't do that. I couldn't look at you and think, "Well, my mom does it this way." And you couldn't look at me and say, "Well, my dad does it this way." We had to remove that, which is part of the leaving. That's good for them, and that was good for us, being able to grow up. 

 

But that can't come into our lives here. I just feel, there are some couples that, I see the outside influence, still, from parents, and it's just a little unhealthy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's a lot unhealthy, yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I see some young people, quite frankly, that are in their late 20s, early 30s. That they will give themselves permission to take the big plunge with another girl, or guy, because they just can't leave that home yet, that mother and father's influence. And some parents are bad. They're bad, at pushing the kid out of the nest. They're bad at it. They want to hold on to them, their ego needs it. That's not healthy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We've had to be very intentional. This is part of our discussion. The reason we can talk about it in the podcast booth here is because this is something that we have processed, continue to process. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Still deal with. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We counsel each other in it, we pick up by mistakes, we learn a lot from what other people are doing, and what other people aren't doing. We're monitoring this along the way. We are also in an environment where we're helping people through some of their baggage, that excess baggage of their life. And they are dealing with that baggage, which some of it comes from the inability to really leave the influence of the parent. 

 

Mary Alessi  

The family, right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And that's— we have to deal with it later. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

When there's so much friction in the home, in the marriage, because one of the people didn't break.

 

Mary Alessi  

There's very few reasons couples have irreconcilable differences. It's, usually, "I could not get along with his mom, his mom had such influence in him. And I was the second woman, I was never the first," or, you know, her mom or dad, that's always a big one. You know, you could almost be a prophet, if you're a marriage counselor, because there's not a whole big range of issues. 

 

We all have the same issues in our marriage that creates a breaking point. And this is, I would say, at the core of it. Maybe sexual issues might be one, where the love is just not there, or— but, irreconcilable, 9 times out of 10, it's a parental figure that either wouldn't let go, or the spouse would not tell their parent, "This is the way it is. My husband's the king of this castle." And I think we try to stay forever a kid. 

 

And when we get married, when we are with our spouse, to see ourselves as a kid, is a childish thing. And the Bible tells us to put away childish things. So, that's another podcast. But I think that when young women say, "Well, what do I do? How do I honor my husband and my father?" That's not even a choice.

 

Steve Alessi  

Okay, so Father's Day, Mother's Day. All right? I had to say to my children, our household, "Guys, Mother's Day is about mom." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Exactly. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I don't need them going out and getting grand mommy, or grandma, a gift on Mother's Day. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Okay? Their responsibility is to get something for you, as their mom. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Now, my mom? This isn't the day that I go out and buy you a gift. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. I'm not your mom. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You're not my mom. This is the day on Mother's Day, I have to do something to honor my mom. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

But there's some family dynamics that will go on Mother's Day, Father's Day, they make it about the grandparent. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

"We all got to get together. She's got to be happy. He's got to be happy." And that's not right, to where the younger daughter, that's now a mother, is being overshadowed by that. 

 

Mary Alessi  

By the mother or the grandmother. Or both.

 

Steve Alessi  

Okay, birthdays, that's when we're going to honor the grandparents. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That's it. My mom's going to be celebrating, coming up in May, we're going to have a great time with my mom. That's at the end of May, but at Mother's Day, I'm going to take care of her, she's going to be part of the celebration that we have for both of you, But my kids are going to wake up, and they're going to come to you, they're going to have the card, they're going to have the gift. You know, that's how we do it in Father's Day. 

 

We would hang out with my dad, but that was up to me. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

To honor my dad. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

But in my household, my kids honor me as the father. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And so, just something as simple as that, helps the kids understand, and the spouse, "Listen, you're my priority." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right? 

 

Steve Alessi  

I married you. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

My mom would not even want that to be confusing. She would never allow, your mom would never allow us saying, "We're going to make it about Mary." My dad wouldn't allow us to make it just about him. He would want to make sure I'm the father being honored in my home. And my mom, you're the wife, the mom being honored in our home, that in itself was very intentional. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because you don't want to wait till they're gone.

 

Mary Alessi  

No. And you don't want your kids to always be lumping in grandma and grandpa, to honoring mom and dad. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Just do it on their birthdays. 

 

Mary Alessi  

There has to be— especially if that's a real point of tension in your marriage, and in your family. Be mindful of that. And I know for us, I remember when the kids were younger, that you would give me gifts on Mother's Day. And I remember I marched the kids in, and I sat them down, and they were younger, I went, "He's not my father. You are my children. You buy me gifts. This is between you and me. This isn't about him doing that for you." Now, I will just say, quick disclaimer: We do, every once in a while, help you buy a gift for your mom, we pick out, because we know what she wants, but that is between you and her.

 

Well, let me compliment you for something. The reason you don't have a problem going out there, and honoring my mother on Mother's Day, is because you always feel the honor. 

 

I know what my value is. 

 

Steve Alessi  

As my wife, and as the mother of our kids. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I've been very, very specific about that. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You don't— our parents have not made us stay connected to them. They've encouraged the leaving and cleaving. And because you feel secure in your role, you are on top of, feel the joy about honoring my mother on Mother's Day, and your mother. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Okay? That's really where you see the health of it. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

If you needed it, and you're upset, because you don't want to celebrate my mom at Mother's Day, then that means okay, I'm not doing my job. We have not left and... 

 

Mary Alessi  

Cleft. I don't know. Anybody knows what that past tense is?

 

Steve Alessi  

We didn't do that. We didn't have that connection. And that would have been a problem for us. I'm thankful that I see Chris do this. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Both our kids, yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah, man. 

 

Mary Alessi  

They're doing great. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Him and Richelle. I love it. You know, it's easy. I had to fight on the front end of them getting married. I had to fight feeling like, "Well, how come they didn't include us?" 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

"How come, you know, they went to dinner and didn't invite us? How come they didn't come after church, go to lunch with us?" You know, I had to lay that down real quick. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And not let my ego be affected by that. And I'm glad that they can cleave to each other. Go spend the time with yourselves, and go spend the time with each others. Yeah, we're hanging out at the pool at the house on a Saturday, we send a little text, "Hey, we're going to be doing it, and have some food, come join us." If they say, "No," it doesn't break our heart.

 

Mary Alessi  

And we had a conversation about that, all of us. Guys, if we text you, and we invite you, it will not hurt our feelings if you say no, and we aren't keeping score. We're just making the invitation. And, sometimes, we don't make the invitation at all. Because we don't want to convolute, or make them feel like, you know, starts fights between couples. "This is the third time mom and dad have invited us, and you haven't wanted to go." 

 

And then, now they're having a struggle. And we don't ever want to create that scenario. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

So, sometimes we'll say, it's just us, your mom, whoever's in town, Gabby and Lauren, or it's just you and me, or it's just you and your mom. And we're very clear, we're purposely not inviting you. Y'all go home. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

So that we don't create more of a—

 

Steve Alessi  

No, and there's such an intentionality about all of this. It's, the more you talk about it with your family, the more black and white it is, the more aware you are of all the little nuances that go with, how do we continue to honor the older family members that we have? That we've come from? The grandparents. And at the same time, honor our relationship as husband and wife. There's a lot of intentionality, a lot of discussion. That's why I'm glad you mentioned that. We did say to our kids, our adult married kids, right now.

 

Mary Alessi  

Officially sat them down, and we said... 

 

Steve Alessi  

Guys don't feel obligated. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's it. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And you're right. There's been times we're going to go do something, we're like, "Don't even tell them." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because we don't— 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's pressure. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Put the pressure. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And having, and I've heard them have the conversation amongst themselves, because they want to be sensitive too. "Hey, we got to make time to make sure we're spending time with members of your family." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Absolutely. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And that's great. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We want that. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's healthy. 

 

Steve Alessi  

But we've had to put our egos aside. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So we would not be offended by that stuff. If you needed it, Mary, that's scary. 

 

Right. 

 

If you needed that constant, "Let's keep my house full. Let's make it all about my cooking. Let's—" 

 

"I want my kids around me."

 

That stuff. And I'm glad you haven't had that, which shows how secure you are, and what a great husband you have to help build that security. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, that's the answer.

 

Steve Alessi  

All right, friends, hopefully, you have enjoyed another edition of The Family Business with the Alessis, where family is everybody's business, and we got into your business today. Thanks for joining us.