Each year I go away with a group of girlfriends. We’ve been doing it for about 8 years now. We email and text like little kids for weeks leading up to the trip, and inside jokes and funny quotes fly when we get back. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out why this trip – this one long weekend a year – has become so important to all of us. We are a large group. We don’t even all see each other socially throughout the year. So why is spending some time with this group of woman each year something I look forward to so much, and something that seems to get more important each year?
Suzanne Braun Levine, author of You Gotta Have Girlfriends, explains it best:
The best thing a man can do for his health is to be married to a woman. One of the best things a woman can do for her health is to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends….we call them our “chosen family” and in times of need they are the most likely to be at the door, on the phone, or in the waiting room.
This explanation sums it up for me, but I know many men have their own questions about women and their friends:
What exactly do they do when they are together?
What is it that their friends do for them that I can’t?
And, of course
I know if I was away with the guys there could easily be some things happening we couldn’t talk about when we get home
Let me ease your worries. For the most part, when girlfriends get together it is for much more innocent reasons like:
Getting a break from home. Whether a woman works in or out of the house, being home usually represents daily chores, responsibilities pulling at them from every direction, and the overall stress of daily life. Think of it, even a cup of coffee with friends offers a chance to take a deep breath. Packing up and leaving for a few days feels like – mmmmm…… paradise!
Talking to friends who understand. It could be about kids. It could be about work. Or, it could be about a relationship. Whatever the challenge, in a group of women you can be guaranteed LOTS OF OPINIONS, and out of that you usually find a good solution. Together, my friends and I have solved problems ranging from toddler to teen discipline issues, to professional choices, and yes, marital and relationship issues.
Unwinding and recharging. As we get our break from home, and we talk about our “stuff”, a funny thing happens. WE FEEL GOOD! We feel empowered, and we feel like we can face anything difficult we left at home. We begin to actually miss home, and are usually ready to leave when its time and go back to reality feeling like a better version of ourselves.
These feeling are not imagined. They are real and can, in fact, make us stronger and healthier to face the challenges life brings our way, making us better at our jobs, better mothers and better wives. There’s not much you feel like you can’t face after a weekend eating well, having fun, exercising, laughing, and talking with a bunch of girlfriends. It’s like therapy and a health spa all wrapped up in one. I can attest to that!
Ms. Levin agrees there are physical health benefits gained from time with our girlfirends:
That the benefits are physical as well as psychological, spiritual, and emotional comes as a surprise to many of us, but in fact many of the ingredients of time spent with a trusted posse of supporters are literally life giving. Laughter, for example, releases such feel-good hormones as endorphins; the confidence that they are watching your back gives you the courage to try new things and get the stimulations that is essential to keeping fit; and the pleasure of their company releases an important hormone – oxytocin – that is a serious stress-reducer. Indeed some researchers are suggesting that one reason women live longer than men is that we (women) benefit from regular doses of soothing down-time.
Okay, but how does this help the nervous husband who comes to me to find out more about a girlfriend getaway or girls night out that his wife is excitedly looking forward to?
Well, it should calm him down. However, I explain to him that if suspicions continue even after being told exactly where your wife is going and what she is doing, then you need to look deeper. If you don’t trust what she does when she is out of your sight, then her girlfriends are not the concern. Distrust is a red flag that there may be issues and other problems that even time with her girlfriends won’t solve.
But, if the relationship is a good one to begin with, I tell them they have nothing to worry about. In fact, I even suggest that with all the positive things their wife gets from her girlfriends, they should cough up their credit card and treat her to some deserved R&R. The benefits far outweigh the cost!