“I know I’m going to marry him,” Samantha* enthused to her community group. “He’s the one.”
Almost instantly the questions began. “Really? You’re sure about that?” “What about finding your happiness in the Lord?” “Are you sure you’ve been dating him long enough to know that?”
Throughout the rest of Samantha and John’s dating and engagement, people continued to pepper Samantha with skeptical remarks. A week before the two were set to say “I do,” one girl pulled Samantha aside. “Do you even want to marry him?” she asked. Upset, Samantha explained that yes, she loved and wanted to marry John.
Introducing a new or potential spouse to friends and family for the first time can be intimidating, because you’re opening your relationship up to judgment. You might think, what if my friends don’t like my husband? How should you respond if people criticize your relationship?
Don’t be defensive
When people criticize your relationship with your spouse, it’s easy to feel hurt or offended — especially when the people criticizing you are supposed to be your support system. Samantha was bothered by her group’s reaction. “These are the girls who are supposed to love me and gently lead me toward the Lord’s wishes for my life,” she says. But they weren’t doing that.
Listening to constant relationship criticism may lead you to want to fight back. However, lashing out because you are hurt may do more harm than good. Proverbs 20:22 says you shouldn’t “repay evil,” but instead allow the Lord to work in the situation.
Samantha says that learning not to react to the backlash was hard. She believes that God was working through her relationship, and she didn’t need to defend it to anyone. “I was able to tell those judging me that mine and John’s relationship is from the Lord.” When your friends don’t like your husband, approach them with confidence and love rather than defensively. That helps set the tone for the rest of the conversation.
Listen to trusted mentors
Proverbs 12: 1 encourages listening to advice and accepting instruction. However, this doesn’t mean that you must accept every piece of criticism from anyone who is willing to give it. Instead, seek advice from friends and mentors you trust. Once you surround yourself with godly people who know you well, you can be confident that you’re considering wise counsel. And that can help you overlook criticism from others.
Samantha explains how her supervisor provided godly advice. “He was asking about my relationship in a very gentle manner, leading me toward what the Lord wanted rather than his own opinions.” She says that, unlike her community group, she felt comfortable telling her supervisor about her relationship and asking him for guidance.
This doesn’t mean that you should surround yourself with people who will never tell you that you’re wrong. Rather, it’s a good idea to find someone who is objective and truly loves and cares about you. You can do this by asking yourself: Who can help me work through issues on a personal level?
Samantha explains that her supervisor was an excellent person to talk to about her relationship. “He’s very objective,” she says. “Seeing that made me want to explain to him how I knew John was the one.” Having someone who is willing to both encourage and reproach you makes it easier to handle criticism.
Talk to your spouse
Once you’re married, you and your spouse become a unit. As Matthew 19:6 explains, “They are no longer two but one flesh.” You are not meant to deal with these criticisms on your own. The more communicative you can be with your husband or wife, the more they will be able to help you — both emotionally and practically.
Being able to support each other during times of trial is a main component of a successful marriage. If you talk and pray together about any criticism, God can help you discern if the judgments of others are accurate.
Maybe the criticism of your marriage has some validity. In this case, discussing the issue with your spouse can help you work together to strengthen your marriage and grow together. Whatever the case, open communication with your spouse is pivotal to your approach when your friends don’t like your husband.
Dealing with criticism is never easy. As humans, it’s natural to want people to approve of us and our choices in a spouse. Gaining that approval isn’t always possible, but we can learn how to deal with criticism in a God-honoring way.
Samantha explains that trusting in God is extremely helpful. “The Lord has this amazing plan for me and John,” she says. “I’ve learned to be OK with the backlash because I know that this relationship is what the Lord wants for me.”
*Names have been changed.