I say it all the time: Thank God for my girlfriends.
I feel fortunate to be able to laugh with my husband; we confide in each other, we have fun, and we mostly communicate well. Of course, it’s not always fun, but I’m not sure that living with anyone is ever fun all the time. I’ll admit I’m not always pleasant in the mornings, especially pre-coffee.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
But with my girlfriends, I have a different kind of fun. Since we don’t live together, snore next to each other, breathe morning breath into each other’s faces, hog the bathroom from each other, clean up after one another, and raise kids together among many, many other things, we get the cream of the crop when it comes to hanging out time.
I feel lucky to have a fun group of women that I get together with regularly, whether it’s for an annual ski trip or a night out on the town. When together, our husbands may imagine us huddled up talking (complaining) about them, but in reality, we spend more time laughing about the little things and enjoying each other’s company along with the time off from the everyday familial duties.
Healthy Friendships that Support Meaningful Conversation
But in more recent years, as we all pass or approach 40 and many of our marriages are creeping by the 10-year mark, I will admit that conversations can turn a little more serious on occasion. Some marriages are struggling, some are still confused about what they want to do career-wise, and most of us with kids have some conundrums about parenting. Although these are all things that we can hopefully talk about with our mates, the friends in our lives can offer a different, outside perspective.
I’ll admit that in our household, with two young (loud) boys, and both of us working full time, it sometimes can take real effort to find time even to ask each other how we are doing much less discuss our feelings about issues we may have. And I’ve learned that we have to carve out this time; it’s imperative to make these conversations a priority to have a solid relationship. We can’t expect to get everything from one person though and let’s face it, many men don’t relish dissecting every little issue and exploring the emotional terrain like women do!
Different Roles for Girlfriends and Husbands
That’s where our girlfriends can really come in handy. When I turn to one of mine for advice, whether it’s about kids or my relationship, I know I will get support. They will listen and they will point out another side. I can count on them to support my relationship instead of bashing my husband, and they may even say something funny enough to make me spit out my wine and forget my gripe for the time being. And for me, that support is a sign of a healthy friendship.
The funny thing is that, in my group of close friends, many of us have been to see Jennifer at different times in our lives, and through these sessions, we have learned some essential techniques for these tricky and stressful times (the marriage and child raising years, that is). Instead of taking sides, insulting a spouse, or jumping to conclusions about an impending divorce, we’ve learned to listen and ask pertinent questions that invoke insight and a new way of seeing a situation. Learning to hold ourselves and our friends accountable, instead of just complaining, has allowed us to support each other in a very genuine way, making our friendships and our marriages stronger.
What I’ve found over the years is that, just like spouses, our girlfriends can’t fit every need either. There may be one you talk to about work, one you exercise with, one you can chat on the phone with on any random evening, one who likes to hit the town, the funny one, the serious one, the quiet one. Maybe you have a variety of friends, or maybe you have one close one, but whatever it may be, I have found that friendships add a lot to my overall life, and can be a support system like no other.
But at the same time, I wouldn’t want anyone else to be my full-time partner. In fact, I have suspicions that if they were, it might take some of the allure away. And besides, my husband does a pretty darn good job.
If you want support for your parenting or coaching for your marriage, feel free to reach out to Heartmanity—the support and insight are invaluable and unbeatable.