Several times, I received emails from young wives who felt pulled in two opposite directions. "My husband and I are thinking about doing this and that," - they say, - "but my parents/his parents/siblings/aunt/uncle (and the list goes on) think we should do something very different". This can refer to anything from buying a house or moving, to employment options, having a baby, children's education, financial investments and any decision you would reasonably think should be between husband and wife alone.
Naturally, a young couple that is just starting out might make mistakes, and can often benefit from loving, gentle advice that comes from more experienced family members. However, one must put a very clear line between advice (acceptable) and rude interference (totally unacceptable). Perhaps you have seen it in action. One woman lives close enough to her in-laws for her mother-in-law to "pop in" unexpectedly several times a day and criticize the way the young wife copes with her chores; another receives backlash from her mother for staying home and homeschooling her children; another woman has to endure unkind remarks from tactless family members for "daring" to become pregnant when others think she and her husband shouldn't have more children... examples are endless.
A young couple needs space to establish their own life, and yes, sometimes it will mean they make mistakes - but there's no other way to learn to live independently as a couple. Individual circumstances and cultural differences must be taken into consideration, of course, but generally, I believe a certain distance can do much good in those first years the couple is getting used to married life. As much as we love our parents and the rest of our family, it should be made clear that no one will take part in decisions the couple must make on their own.
The happenings of your life should be presented as facts: we bought a house; we are moving; we are pregnant; we decided to homeschool this year. If you aren't firm, you might be stuck in the bog of "good advice" given to you by any well-wisher who has a spare minute - sometimes not only your family, but complete strangers.
What about times when husband and wife are debating over which course of action to take? I believe it's very dangerous for a wife to let others know she doubts or mistrusts her husband's decisions - especially if those others aren't known for their love, wisdom, kindness, experience and tact. By doing this, she opens the path to further disagreement and conflict. And complaining about your husband to others? I truly can't think of a worse idea. Now, please understand I'm not talking about abuse and other extreme situations. But consider a woman who tells a friend of hers, "Johnathan thinks we should sell our fancy house and buy something more modest so we can pay off our debt faster. I'm not sure I should agree to this. I don't know how he expects me to manage with only two bedrooms and no garage!" - in response to that, her friend yells indignantly, "What? Only two bedrooms? No garage?! That's crazy - you should put your foot down and tell him you don't agree to this!"
See what's happening here? If the conflict remained between husband and wife, a compromise could be reached - perhaps three bedrooms and not two - but after talking to her friend, the wife is determined to plunge further into conflict with her husband. I will assume the friend meant well, but she didn't hear the husband's side of the story; maybe she doesn't know the size of debt the couple has acquired; perhaps she, herself, is in debt up to her ears and doesn't see anything wrong with that; perhaps she thinks "winning" an argument is more important than peace between husband and wife.
Unfortunately, not everyone we know can be trusted, and not everyone we trust can give reliable, sound, godly advice. Friends or parents might have very good intentions, but they often will automatically side with us and puff up our feelings of self-righteousness. Imagine that a woman complains about her husband always leaving his dirty socks on the floor and not throwing them into the laundry hamper; a well-wisher fans the fire of her irritation: "Oh, poor you. You work so hard, taking care of the home and the baby, you do all the housework - and he can't do something as simple as put his socks in the hamper? You shouldn't let this pass. Next time he does this, just leave his pile of socks where it is and tell him he won't have clean socks until he learns to put them in the hamper!"
A minor (though irritating, I admit) detail blown out of proportion. It might not even be worth mentioning. Most likely the husband might find a thousand things to complain about - the soup is too salty, his shirt is crinkled, the toothpaste has run out - every couple has frictions, coming simply from living together. We can overlook each other's shortcomings and move on, or we can wage war on each other for every little thing. For a happy, peaceful marriage I will gladly pick up my husband's socks off the floor - and remember he didn't say a word when dinner was burned last week!
When talking about your husband to others, be kind, respectful, and discreet. In your heart, learn to think about your husband with praise and admiration. If you consider it, there's so much to be thankful for. Your positive attitude will find its way into your husband's heart, and he will be encouraged, uplifted and inspired. Build your marriage every day with a kind, forgiving and loving spirit.