Are Girlfriends the New Husbands?

25 Jan

When I first heard about the article with the above title, which was recently published in Marie Claire magazine, I’d assumed it was about friendships between women of whom one or both were married. My friend D had mentioned it to me on our Sunday walk with the dogs after we’d meandered through the our local park, designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead (who’d also designed Central Park).
We talk about whatever is going on, has gone on, might go on in our lives. We talk about our kids–hers are recently out of college and one of mine is on her way, the other in middle school. We talk about our creative careers, we talk about movies, fashion, articles, whatever. Even in winter, after our walk, we’re often still chatting with the dogs flopped at our feet, tired and waiting for us to shut up.
We always feel better after just talking. As with most conversations between women, if there’s a problem, an issue we just need an airing, someone to listen, comment, but not give a here’s what you should do, although I have a two girlfriends who are free with the unsolicited.
When D and I were parting the other day she said: “I feel so much better, just talking.”
Then she said, it’s like girlfriends are the new husbands.
The comment stayed in my head all week and D sent me the link to the article, which apparently had caused something of a stir. After reading the article, it wasn’t what I’d expected. It was a let down. It was about the intensity of single women’s friendships (duh), but based on the title, I thought it was going to be about married women with good husbands, whom they like, as I do, but also have an intense intimacy with girlfriends. Most women, single and married, have strong women friendships.
I don’t often have the same flexibility to get together spontaneously with my married or single girlfriends, but I make time to hang for a walk, a lunch or dinner or drinks out or at home.
My husband and I are not that couple who feel we must do everything together. We both make time to see our friends (my daughter and I call Glenn, Cliff’s best friend, his girlfriend).
I can and do talk to Cliff about everything. My girlfriends think he and I have a really good marriage–otentimes I agree with them–but the point is that there’s nothing that replaces my girlfriends.
When my friend Eleanore’s Dad died, I traveled with her Washington, D.C. where she grew up. When we got there we stayed at her sister’s apartment, but we did the mourning sit (eating and receiving family and friends) at her Dad and stepmother’s home. I was telling E’s stepmother, who I’d never met, something and in passing mentioned my husband. She stopped me mid-sentence and said: “You got a husband?” She was incredulous about my presence and even asked me why I’d come. I’d told her that I had wanted to be there for Eleanore, who is one of my dearest friends. Stepmother was clearly confused and for the rest of the visit, looked at me cockeyed. I guess in her mind a married woman doesn’t have close girlfriends and certainly don’t leave home to travel with one. Before the weekend was out, she must’ve asked me twice more if I was actually married; maybe women of her generation didn’t–although my mom always clung to her six sisters and girlfriends.
Growing up as the youngest and only girl with three older brothers and my Dad, my mother and I were outnumbered and I always felt that way. Whenever  one of my brothers had a girlfriend, I’d glom on to her and pretend she was my sister.
Now that I have a few really close girlfriends, one of whom is that a sister I’d longed for, I feel complete in a way I never had growing up.
Are girlfriends the new husbands? No, but just like I can’t imagine my life without mine, I can’t and don’t want to imagine life without my girlfriends.

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One Response to “Are Girlfriends the New Husbands?”

  1. theunsualbeauty July 2, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    I’m the only girl with three brothers also.

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