Women Need Their Female Friends To Be Really Happy, Something Marriage Seems To Take Away!

Our mothers' and grandmothers' generation spent their lives in utter loneliness because to spend time with friends would have been considered a selfish act as their sole 'job' was to look after their families.

After years of being a dark morass of depression following my father’s death, my mother has rediscovered her mojo and is now a happy soul, all thanks to social media. Except, I am speaking of a different social media here, not Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

I am talking about the social media that is populated by real, flesh and blood men and women, people who you can reach out to, lean on, hug, laugh with or even shed tears with. Amma lacked people in her life and once she found it, she is an all- new person. I wish we had figured it out earlier but better late than never.

When Amma re-connected with her girlhood friends

The wonders of this human social media first dawned on us a few months ago when my sister, desperate to pull Amma out of her hopelessness, took her to her most favourite place on earth, our ancestral home in a quaint coastal village in Kerala. Here it was that Amma mentioned to a visiting relative, that she wished she could meet her long lost trio of girlfriends back from the village school.

The relative happened to mention Amma’s wish to the village blacksmith who he ran into at the market square that evening. The blacksmith mentioned this to his wife who worked at one of the oldest tharavadus (ancestral homes) in the village. The matriarch of the family, a grand old lady in her eighties, heard the conversation and immediately remembered Amma and her cronies. “Pramila and the three girls often came over on the way back from school and I would give them raw mangoes or coconut slices with jaggery to eat,” she said. “I have the telephone number of one of those girls somewhere in an old notebook.”

And thus it was, that less than 24 hours after she expressed her yearning to meet her long-lost friends, Amma was able to call one of the sisters. Later, my sister, who silently stepped aside after dialling the number for Amma, said it was an extraordinary 30 minutes of female bonding, with each of them reminiscing their school days, laughing aloud, tearing up a bit and talking about their present life.

The call ended with the reunited friends promising to meet up in person at the earliest and they did, just a fortnight later, Amma alone and her friend accompanied by her husband who too seemed to enjoy the endless memories that the two women exchanged.

Why did you never stay in touch after you married?

“Why did you never stay in touch after you got married and left for Mumbai?,” the friend asked at one point and Amma’s face clouded a bit when she said, “I got busy raising my children and never had the time to find you all.”

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That simple sentence carried in it the regret of a lifetime and it is, perhaps, the reality of a generation of women before us, our mothers and grandmothers who spent their lives in utter loneliness because to spend time with friends would have been considered a selfish act, because their sole job was to look after their families.

I am happy social media has transformed Amma’s life and given her renewed reason to live. She calls her friends now and it is heartwarming to hear them exchange notes on their lives, their small everyday joys and sorrows.

Social media has really made a difference!

Which brings me to some heartwarming change I am seeing, this time fuelled by technology. Across social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, women have set up supportive structures where they exchange valuable resources, share job opportunities, expertise, experiences and encourage each other on their journeys. What is astonishing is how open and fearless these groups are: women talk about cheating spouses, exchange telephone numbers of divorce lawyers and psychiatrists and swap stories about spouses who refuse to pay attention to their sexual needs. “A sexless marriage is toxic and depressing. Don’t suffer it. Talk to him about it and go meet a specialist and a counsellor,” one woman said to a young woman who spoke on a platform about her husband who withholds sex in their marriage.

“Buy yourselves a few sex toys and encourage him to experiment too,” another chipped in.

Refreshingly, these spaces are also discouraging voices that occasionally come up, that judge other women for voicing her concerns about personal matters. “Dear Ms *****, this is a safe space where we are cheerleaders for each other and friends like family. If you don’t approve of what is happening here, please leave the group,” one administrator said recently, gently rebuking an elderly woman who ticked off a younger woman for talking about trouble in her live-in relationship.

As for Amma, she is now the biggest ambassador for female friendships and bonding. “Why do you hang around at home on the days you don’t have to work? Go meet a friend, have lunch with them and get yourself a life. Don’t be boring,” she told me recently.

Touche!

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About the Author

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon is an author of several books, an actor and founder of writing workshop series, Get Writing and Writing With Women. She is also a speaker on leadership, D&I and other subjects, read more...

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