Is it significant that in the scriptures we are referred to as the children of God (1 John 3:10; Romans 9:8; Luke 20:36) yet our Savior is often symbolized as our bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13; John 3:27-30; Revelations 19:5-10)? I think it gives us insight into the differences between these relationships and where our priorities should be.
The difference between the relationships of parent/child and husband/wife are interesting and notable. To be clear, there is nothing to compare with either relationship. They are both unique and valuable in their own ways. However, there are a couple distinctions that make each very different from the other.
First, a parent-child relationship is based on the premise that you are raising a young member of your species to become an independent, capable adult. We love our children, we try to protect them, nurture them, and love them. We work to instill in them the values that we cherish, the lessons we've learned, and the ability to go out and make their own way in the world. We raise them with the knowledge that we will, at the right time, let them go. We will still be their parent and we will always love them, care for them, help them, and have a relationship with them, but they will move on to live their own lives and find their own spouse and continue the legacy of parent-child relationships.
The spousal relationship, on the other hand, is based on both partners (ideally) already being adults and coming together on equal terms. They are meant to support, encourage, love, and be devoted to each other. There should be no room for anyone else to take up the space in their heart that is reserved for their spouse. They are bound together through commitment, time, shared experiences, and love. They will hopefully be privileged to raise children together and share in all of the joys and heartaches that come with parenthood. When the time comes for those children to move on, though, they are left with each other. They are to cleave to each other, not to their children or to the family as a whole (although family unity and devotion are not to be undervalued.)
If we relate this to how our relationships to God the Father and to our Savior Jesus Christ are symbolized, it becomes apparent that there are definite similarities. God, as our father, has given us the opportunity to come to earth and "grow up." He nurtures us, teaches us, and loves us. But I think that, like earthly parents, He has hopes that we will mature, move on in our own lives, and find our "spouse."
That's where Christ comes in. Jesus is our bridegroom, our spouse. He takes the most prominent place in our hearts and in our lives. Our commitment and devotion need to be to Him above all else. We may be privileged to have "children" with him (those we help bring to Him and His gospel) but after all is said and done, what we will have left is our relationship with Him.
At this point, God is still our Father and we are His children. But we are Christ's bride. We have an obligation to pledge our complete fidelity to Him and to commit our life to our relationship to Him. And just like this symbolic relationship, we have the same obligations toward our earthly spouse. We are not to let anyone or anything (including children) come between us. I think it's wonderful that in a day when so many people have lost sight of the purpose of marriage and family that we have such a beautiful example in God's own word.