My girlfriend and I have been good lately, but some things have been happening lately that my girlfriend says is my family's fault. Because she is against my family and a new born Christian, I always defended my family. Recently I came to realize that indeed, my family, especially my mom, has a problem with gossip. I didn't really know what gossip was. I did some research and found that the articles described exactly what my mother does, including the same excuses she makes.

Truth is, my mom is very cautious about who I marry and as a mother, this is normal. But, she likes to get too involved in the relationship. She always tells me things that my girlfriend is doing wrong, especially since we are far away from each other. For me this was normal, it's just a mom looking out for me, but now I understand my girlfriend. My girlfriend feels watched all the time and even wanted to break up with me because she can't deal with a family who gossips so much. For example, my mom told me that my girlfriend was talking to some guys from church at a picnic. My mom heard this from my two sisters. I asked my girlfriend if it was true and she explained what happened and it was different from my mom's story. This happened a couple of times already, but this time my girlfriend just couldn't take it anymore. I truly believe that my mom has an issue and it needs to be solved. The only problem is how am I going to tell my mom about this? How am I, her son, going to confront her and tell her she's wrong? I already told her the other day she's spending way too much time on MySpace because she just learned how to use it, so she is already annoyed with me telling her what to do. Any ideas?

Also, my girlfriend says that I'm too attached to my family. I understand that when you're married you have to let go, and my girl says that that process needs to begin now. She says that I worry more about what my family (sisters and mom) thinks than what she thinks. For example, my sisters and she were out shopping and my girl wanted to buy me a shirt. My girl said it is the right size, but in the background I heard my sister say, "I don't think it will fit him. It's too big." I started worrying about what my sister was saying and not trusting my girlfriend. Is this wrong? My girl said it kills her because it's all the time. My sisters have a tendency to judge me and us a lot. For example they say things like, "Ugh, you need a hair cut. How can you let your boyfriend walk around like that?" or "Are you guys arguing again?! Ugh, you're wasting time with all this arguing." I'm so used to it because I have been living with that for my whole life, but now I finally understand my girlfriend's view on this. What do you think?

One more question. My girl doesn't like how I take my parents advice about dating and marriage. I, for one, need to take their advice because my father is a pastor and he knows what's best for me, but a lot of their advice seems biased. How do I know which advice to take and which ones to disregard? Obviously, they do have good concepts because they have been through a lot and have been married for quite some time, but I know that every parents has a tendency of being over protective and say things they don't need to. What should I do? I don't want to go totally against my family to please my girlfriend whom I'm not even married to yet, but at the same time, I don't want to accept everything they say, especially since my mom has a tendency to spread things around.

I would highly appreciate your answer. Thank you and God bless you!

"And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better'" (Luke 5:39).

When you read this verse, don't think in terms of hard liquor. By "old wine" Jesus is referring to juice that has begun to sour. A person who is used to drinking soured juice doesn't consider it soured. In fact, if you slip him fresh juice his first reaction is to dislike the fresh stuff simply because it isn't what he is used to drinking.

Jesus used this illustration to say why the Pharisees rejected Christ's teachings. The Jews had become bogged down in traditions and locked in methods of doing things certain ways. Just because Jesus and his disciples were doing things in a fresh, righteous way, the Pharisees instantly rejected it because it was different -- even though it was the better way.

You are learning the same regarding family relationships. There is a reason why God said, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). You are used to the behaviors of your family because that is what you have grown up with. You never questioned whether their behavior was right or wrong. Now that someone is pointing that there is a problem, your first reaction is to hold onto the familiar instead of look for truth -- even though truth is better.

For your part, you need to stop judging things simply on the basis of who says something. Even when the apostle Paul taught, the Bereans are called noble because they didn't take him at his word. "Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Paul wasn't upset that these people checked his teachings against the Bible. Just the opposite! He was impressed at their desire to know the truth. He wasn't worried that he would be proven wrong because his teaching came from the Lord.

Your sisters are fault finders. It is likely that no girl is good enough to marry into their family, so they look for evidence to validate their prejudice. They are not looking out for your interests, they are proud of their position and think less of others. I know, not pleasant to hear, but I can see it because the issues they are picking are minor issues that involve how you look to other people. "For the terrible one is brought to nothing, the scornful one is consumed, and all who watch for iniquity are cut off - who make a man an offender by a word, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and turn aside the just by empty words" (Isaiah 29:20-21).

You already understand that your mother is a gossip and you understand why that is wrong. The real question is what to do about these people.

First, the hardest lesson anyone must face is that you can't make other people do what is right. You can scold and you can encourage, but in the end the person must make their own choice. But you have choices as well. You have to accept that your mother and sisters, at least, are as flawed as any other human being. You know where some of their weaknesses are, so start factoring it into your judgments.

One of these days you are going to be a husband and it will be your duty to protect your wife from others -- including your own family. It doesn't mean your wife won't have flaws, but it is your job to help her overcome those problems. It isn't the job of your parents or siblings. Your girlfriend is right, if you can't be the buffer between her and your own family now, you certainly won't be able to do it later.

So when your sisters make a snippish remark that cuts your girlfriend, smile sweetly and say "That's why I'm marrying her and not you, dear sister." If they press while you are out together, tell them you'll met them later, but you don't want their sourness to ruin your happiness. I guarantee that when they see that you aren't going to put up with their backstabbing, they will back off. And your girlfriend will relax knowing she has a real man to protect her.

Take a lesson from the Song of Solomon. When the heroine of the story first arrives in Jerusalem, she is nervous and unsure of herself. The other ladies of the court take snips at her. When she asks where Solomon takes his lunch so she can meet him, she says she doesn't want to roam around looking like a prostitute. "Tell me, O you whom I love, where you feed your flock, where you make it rest at noon. For why should I be as one who veils herself by the flocks of your companions?" (Song of Solomon 1:7).

The ladies take the opportunity to jump in with "advice" sure to embarrass her. "If you do not know, O fairest among women, follow in the footsteps of the flock, and feed your little goats beside the shepherds' tents" (Song of Solomon 1:8). In essence, they told her, "Don't you know? And you the most beautiful woman in the world?" (Read that with very heavy sarcasm.) "Why you take this path right over here and just follow it as it wanders around and you'll eventually find him. Oh, and don't forget to bring your little goats along with you!" A young kid goat was the standard payment for the services of a prostitute. Thus a woman alone with several young goats following her was declaring herself to be a prostitute. And the path they were sending her on I sure would have wandered by numerous lonely shepherds who would have propositioned her.

Solomon, however, pulls the rug right out from under these ladies. He doesn't scold the women; instead he turns to the heroine and says, "I have compared you, my love, to my filly among Pharaoh's chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with chains of gold" (Song of Solomon 1:9-10). He told her that she is like the lead mare of Pharaoh's chariots. The Egyptians were famous for the horses they breed, and, of course, Pharaoh's chariot would be pulled by the best of the best. And since you want to make great first impressions, the lead horse is the absolute best in the herd. So, Solomon just said in front of all these women, you are the finest woman here, the cream of the crop. And then he went on with a sincere complement. He told her that her jewelry really set off her complexion and made her look lovely. This was particularly important because earlier she expressed embarrassment over her complexion. She was an country girl, used to working out in the sun. She was embarrassed by her dark tan in comparison to the milk white tones of these noble women of the court (Song of Solomon 1:5-6).

The ladies of the court realized which way the wind was blowing and it wasn't in their favor. Without directly addressing them, Solomon put them in their place and openly declared who he favored. They offered to make up for their gaff. If Solomon liked jewelry on his fiance, then they would make more for her (Song of Solomon 1:11).

Something that women in general look for in a man is someone who can bring them security. Women tend to be unsure of themselves and someone who inspires them with confidence is treasured. Your girlfriend wants to know that you are going to be there for her through good times and bad. If you constantly assume that she is always wrong and your family is always right until proven otherwise, she isn't going to feel secure and I wouldn't blame her for deciding not to sign up for such a life.

Now this doesn't mean there won't be times that she is in the wrong and your sisters might be right. But don't settle the problem in front of your sisters. Discuss the matter with your girlfriend privately, explaining nicely what the problem is and why an improvement needs to be made.

Your mother has to be handled in the same diplomatic manner. She still sees you as her ten-year-old boy. She sees your girlfriend as competition for your affection and that she will never be good enough for her son. You have to make it known clearly in front of her and others that you picked this woman to be your future wife and that is how it is going to be. When your mother comes carrying tales, just ask her if this is another tale given to your mother by your sisters to make your girlfriend look bad. Ask her who were her sources and why she believes these people to be accurate.

For example, if someone told me my wife was talking to some men at a picnic, I would have ask "And?" I expect my wife to be friendly. I know she talks to numerous people, men and women. In other words, don't assume the worse just because you are told something. Use that head of yours and analyze the evidence and the trustworthiness of the sources. Only if you think there is something to this would I bring it up to your girlfriend. By feeding back all the snippish things being said behind her back, you are undermining her feelings of security. Just mentioning it means you think there is something to the rumor. If your fiance hasn't proven herself to be trustworthy at this point, then you are not in love. Love thinks no evil and believes all things (I Corinthians 13:5, 7).

Now I'm not saying you need to be gullible to be be love. You should be thinking about her character and her trustworthiness. But you should base your judgments on actual evidence and not rumors.

You didn't say what advice your parents gave about dating and marriage that your girlfriend objects to, but the answer to this is the same. It isn't who said it, it is whether it matches the teachings of God or not. You should give heed to your parents' teachings enough that you don't simply dismiss it, but go and see for yourself if it matches what the Lord has said. But I suspect that you are going to find that it doesn't always match up to biblical teachings; that sometimes they are giving their opinion and not the truth. When opinion is given, consider it because they have experience, but realize that opinion doesn't have to be followed. You are your own person and will have your own opinions.

Thank you so much for your amazing answers. I read it to my girlfriend and she said thank you for your help and for making me realizing some things I didn't realize.