As a newlywed, it was easy for me to engage in conversation with other women when I had questions about men and marriage. Unfortunately, I had not yet learned that girlfriends could either help or hinder my relationship with my husband. When I commented to a co-worker about having to juggle my job and home responsibilities, I ended by asking why my husband didn't have to help. She began elaborating from her own list of marital frustrations — and the conversation went downhill from there. It was only a matter of time before each small annoyance I felt toward my husband was filtered through the larger lens of my colleague's grievances, and I learned that frustration and disappointment were contagious.
Fast-forward a few years to when I was a young mother with three daughters under age 5. The chaos of preschool years only compounded the questions I had about married life, so once again I found myself looking for support among women. This time, though, I shared my concerns with ladies who were committed to loving their husbands well. When I'd vent about my husband's lack of help around the house, my friends would remind me of his commitment to work hard so I could be at home with the girls. When I'd comment about his fervor for football season, they'd remind me of his passion for his family. We shared life together — and that included cheering for our men.
Whatever the stage of life, women find themselves drawn to the company of other women. They celebrate our victories and grieve our losses; they share our joy and feel our pain. It seems that women are wired to engage with other women on a deep and personal level, gleaning from one another along the way. Maybe that's why Paul wrote about friendships in Titus 2:3-4 when he said, "Older women … are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children."
Train the young women to love their husbands? Apparently, God knew that married life would require some coaching. Do you have a friend who reminds you of what's good and honorable about your man; a friend who calls you out when you're being selfish or unkind; a friend who encourages you to show respect toward your husband and reflect God's love in your marriage?
Think about your girlfriends. Which ones help to make you a better wife? You'll recognize the healthy influence among women who:
- speak respectfully about men and marriage
- are good and trustworthy listeners
- express empathy and show compassion
- pray for you, and their words are reflective of God's truth
- confront when necessary
- believe the best about you and your husband
Time spent with critical friends can make me a demanding wife. Time spent with controlling women can make me a nagging wife. Thankfully, the opposite is also true. When I engage with authentic friends who are committed to godliness in married life, I'm inspired to be a better wife.
I've chosen wisely and I've chosen foolishly, and both experiences have taught me that my marriage is affected by the friends I choose to spend time with.Pam Woody is the marriage editor for Thriving Family.