Friday, May 24, 2013

girl talk

Marriage has taught me a lot about myself.  It's taught me how I like to love and be loved, how I tend to fight, what little things matter to me (like putting the toilet seat down, ahem Steve!), what I cherish in friendships both with my spouse and with others, how I actually need alone time every once in a while - seriously, this came as quite a shock to me because I am a huge extrovert -  and when I need to just sit back and relax. 
One of the biggest things I have learned over this past almost-year of marriage is the importance of girl friends in my life.  You'd think that once a girl marries her guy, he fills the "best friend" spot in her life and she doesn't need her girl friends as much any more.  Couldn't be more wrong.

When Steve and I first got married, we felt that we had to spend every waking moment together.  We were married now, so of course we should be inseparable, right?  After all, weren't we each other's best friend?  If we ate out for dinner, we did it together.  If we watched a movie, we watched it together.  If we met up with friends, it was for a double date.  Now I am a big fan of quality time - it's actually my primary love language - but this approach to marriage was not sustainable for us.  It wore us both down and actually ended up driving us apart.  I began resenting all the time we spent together, and Steve, the natural introvert, felt overwhelmed by the constant togetherness combined with the pressures of living up to the "married life" standard, and withdrew into himself as a result. 

The truth is, for a marriage to thrive, both husband and wife need to thrive individually in it.  We left no time in our married life for us to continue to grow as individuals, and the effect was that we drained each other.
I am glad that we learned this about ourselves so early on in our marriage.  Sure, it wasn't fun working through this stuff when we were supposed to be in "newlywed bliss."  But I think our relationship is healthy and sustainable because we experienced what was not sustainable (for our relationship, not necessarily for others) so soon after our wedding. 
Once we realized what was happening in our relationship, Steve and I both began taking steps to regain a sense of "self."  One of those steps for me was reconnecting with old girl friends of mine.  Setting aside time to grab coffee or dinner with the ladies.  Starting a bible study with two wonderful sisters in Christ.  Calling my long-distance gal pals and checking in more than once every few months.  And let me tell you, I didn't realize how much I had been missing those female friendships until they were back in the works again!   
 Last night, I met up with three dear friends at a local taco bar for happy hour and dinner.  There was warm weather, good food and great conversation.  The perfect girls' night.
We all became friends when we worked together - our first law firm jobs out of law school. 
Three of us have since left that firm, but we still stay in touch and now try to get together at least once a month.  We may no longer be work colleagues, but I think we will be great friends for years to come.  I'm so thankful for these ladies.
Girl friends are good for the soul.  I'm so blessed to have such lovely ladies in my life who can walk beside me through my career, my marriage and the general ups and downs of life.  And the best part is, spending time with my girls has helped me grow and mature... which in turn has strengthened and blessed my marriage.  It's a win-win-win!

There's real truth to "girl power."  Cherish your girl friends, ladies.  They are a blessing.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
― C.S. Lewis

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