* Please note this post was first published here last spring
Last week, I was talking to a woman who said, “I just stick with my husband. I’ve been hurt too often by other women and I’m not going to put my heart out there anymore.”
I get what she’s saying. Really, I understand completely and I can’t deny that I haven’t felt the same at times, too.
Being in relationship with other women CAN be tricky.
But it’s also worth the risk. Here’s why:
1. We were created for relationship. When God created Adam and the creatures of the earth, He recognized there was not a suitable helper for Adam. He needed someone who could relate to him—Adam needed a woman. This doesn’t mean that men can’t be relational (they are) but I don’t think any of us would deny they tend to be to a lesser degree. While men often define their life success through their occupation, women tend to define their success through their relationships. It’s probably why they can get over an offense so easily and we as women can stew on it for a bit – we feel relational stuff a little bit more deeply.
2. Let’s face it—our husbands are not equipped to meet our every single emotional need.
Don’t get me wrong—my husband is very capable of connecting with me on an emotional level. He’s quite sensitive and does indeed care about what burdens my heart.
But he doesn’t want to hear every last little detail. In fact, I know I have to get to the root of the issue within five minutes or I’ve lost him. Too many words are just simply overwhelming to him.
And yes, I realize not all men are like my husband. But many of them are.
The fact of the matter is . . . our husbands cannot be our girlfriends because they don’t possess a female brain.
Lately, my five and and six year old sons think it’s absolutely hilarious to belt-out various bodily functions—each one is followed with uproarious laughter. My husband finds it to be equally hysterical, too.
My daughter and I don’t get it. Well, OK. Sometimes Sarah does get it because she’s nine and there are moments she thinks its funny. But regardless, while I’m not a stick-in-the-mud, I don’t always get it.
But on the flip-side, throw my husband into a room with my close friends and me and he’s ready to exit stage left within 15 minutes— too many circular conversations can be exhausting!
In the end, we were created differently and we have vastly different needs.
3. God knew He would need earthly encouragers. No one can lift me up by sharing truth and words of encouragement like my girlfriends can.
4. Female relationships have a biological advantage. Shelley Taylor, author of the book, The Tending Instinct: Women, Men, and the Biology of Relationships says that when women are stressed, they want to “tend and befriend.” In other words, they desire to take care of their families (likely to regain control of something) and to be with girlfriends. When women spend time with girlfriends, their brain releases a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin has a calming effect on the brain.
The well-respected Harvard Nurses’ Study also found that women with a strong social network have lower rates of high cholesterol, lower heart rates, and lower blood pressure. Those without strong female relationships were found to pose the same risk to their health as smoking or carrying extra weight.
5. Relating to others is how we show Jesus to the world. Matthew 22 tells us to first love God above all else but secondly to “love your neighbor as yourself.” To love our neighbor, we have to interact with them in some way, right? Even if we never see that neighbor again or our time with them is brief, we are Jesus’ public relations team.
How we relate to one another is a direct reflection of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Having authentic and true female friendships is another way of loving our neighbors as ourselves – and making it through life in general!
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
– Ecclesiastes 4:7-12
Why do YOU need girlfriends?
This is such a great post, Natalie! I just shared it on my facebook. You said something I’ve ALWAYS thought: “our husbands cannot be our girlfriends because they don’t possess a female brain.” It’s so true. Our husbands are never quite as sympathetic as our girl friends. :-)
My husband has long recognized my need for girlfriends! How interesting that it releases oxytocin when we’re together. I knew hanging with the girls released my stress — I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that there are biological effects. Thank you for this series because we women do need each other!