'I love my husband, but it's my girlfriends that keep me happily married.'

Recently, I have begun to think a lot and write about marriage. Marriage in general has been on my mind, but also my marriage which turns 14 in two weeks' time.

I recently wrote a piece for Mamamia about my plan one day to stay married to my lovely husband, but to live alone because I love him, but I also love space and I have never lived alone, and one day I want to. 

Goodness, there were some big feelings about this – the comments were wild. Many commenters were women who fervently expressed that they too want to live alone but stay together one day (but with all of us pretty much recognising it's beyond our financial means). But many commenters were very angry with me for saying this is what I wanted, telling me I clearly didn't really want to be married, that I was selfish, and that my marriage was clearly screwed. 

I wasn't really offended (I didn't read most of the comments), but instead I took it as a reflection of the fact that as a society we don't talk much about what marriage can be. There is no one way to do marriage and there are all kinds of things that make different couples marriages work.

As a culture, we talk a lot about falling in love, about big, beautiful weddings, and then we talk about falling out of love and bitter, unhappy divorces, but we talk very little about the mundane beauty of long marriage and the things that keep people happily married year in and year out.

But I'll tell you. It's my girlfriends that keep me happily married.


Watch: Best friends: translated. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Now listen here Grumpy Commenters, I know you'll have something to say about this. And let me cut you off at the pass and just say that yes of course it is the relationship I have with my husband that is the happy marriage, and the kind things we do for each other, and the way we love and support and care for each other and laugh together and talk and raise our kids and connect with one another that keeps us together... SURE. 

But I realised several years ago that relying on one person to be my everything was a surefire way to kill our relationship. 

I realised that marriage can be bloody lonely even when you deeply love the other person, and like it 'takes a village to raise a child' (or at least it's a s**t-load easier if you have a village), it takes my harem of girlfriends to keep me happily married.

Like many people for the first many years of my relationship with my husband, he was my whole world. Yes, I had friends and family, colleagues, and connections, but my life revolved around him. I thought that's what 'real love' was: doing everything together, being utterly consumed by the other person, missing each other terribly when you were away for a night, demonstrating love with over-the-top romantic gestures, telling each other everything, thinking I'd die without him, and all that other Hollywood guff that now makes me cringe and roll my eyes.


And maybe for some people that's what 'real love' is, but I've realised it's not it for me. It's exhausting for the person who is the centre of your world, it's a huge amount of pressure, and it's a life-limiting choice. I want and need different people in my life who feed me in different ways and whom I talk about and do different things with. One person can never be my everything.

Some people want and need different physical connections in their lives and open up their marriages to new sexual partners and relationships. That's not for me. I hold no judgement against anyone who does this, but sex is a hugely emotional and connecting experience for me, and my husband and I have decided monogamy is for us. 

I do however have many other wants, needs and desires that my husband won't, can't and doesn't meet – but my girlfriends do.

Listen to Mia Freedman discuss the Big Secret to female friendship. Post continues after podcast.

I have girlfriends who I talk to about motherhood and how hard it is, and how much we love our children but also wish we could run away for weeks at a time. I have girlfriends who I watch Little Women and drink tea with once a year, every year. I have girlfriends who I talk with about books, others who I chat with about fashion. I have girlfriends who I exercise with, and others who I see live music and theatre with. I have girlfriends who know all about how hard periods of my marriage have been and have supported and loved me through it; I have others who I've only mentioned my husband and children in passing to because they are just not interested in that part of my life. 


I have girlfriends who have turned up with plates of food and arms wide open when I'm sad, or devastated or depressed. I have girlfriends who've cranked the music and sung karaoke with me at the top of their lungs when I've celebrated big winning moments in life. I have girlfriends who pump me up for big work conversations and others who are completely disinterested in what I do for a job.

I have girlfriends who do and are many of the things I've listed and others who are purely in one part of my life. 

I can't imagine my life if I didn't have them. I can't imagine my husband filling all those spaces and places that my girlfriends fill. There are also just experiences and feelings he doesn't and can't understand, and to expect him to would be fundamentally unfair.

He and I do so much together in this life, including raising our children, which I think is the biggest commitment and experience you could ever have with another human. He doesn't need to be the person I go shopping for swimmers with as well!

 Feature Image: Supplied.

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