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18th Feb 2021

Turns out, our friends are more important for our happiness than our husband are

Trine Jensen-Burke

our friends are most important to our happiness


Sure, we love our husbands. But let’s all agree on one thing, mamas: We’d be completely LOST if it weren’t for our friends too.

Supportive and handsome as our husbands may be, according to a new study it turns out that our friends top the list of people us mums feel we can lean on the most. (Sorry, hubbies!)

When Arizona State University researchers recently surveyed more than 2,000 women, they found four essential factors that predicted mums’ well-being: unconditional acceptance, feeling comforted during stressful times, authenticity in relationships — in other words, feeling like you can be yourself — and friendship satisfaction. According to researchers, these four qualities play key roles in keeping mums happy and helping them feel supported when dealing with the rigours of motherhood.

Surprisingly, the study, published in Developmental Psychology, found that being married, per se, was not related to the mothers’ psychological well-being. However, and maybe not so surprisingly; the quality of the marriage was more significant.

But get this: Even when mums were satisfied with their partners, their friendships still had a more powerful effect on their well-being and stress levels.

Basically, having good friends to lean on is like a little health insurance!


“It’s indispensable,” agrees Suniya Luthar, study author and Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University. “Whether the female friends are sisters, a mum, or a cousin, to have that loving, tender care from other women is essential. It’s not to say that men and marriage are not important, but what female friendships offer is different, and women need it.”

We all know how easy it is for our busy, time-poor lives to get in the way of regularly seeing our friends, but maybe this study will make you feel a little different about slotting time with your girlfriends into your schedule?

Female social connections are actually completely necessary for a woman’s well-being.

“Think about it like a car and gasoline,” says Luthar. “You don’t fill it up once. You get some love from a friend and then go off on your merry way. But you need that replenished again and again.”

The professor pointed out that of course our marriages are important too, but the reason being for marriage not ranking higher on the essentials-for-well-being list maybe because friendships are not burdened with the same level of demanding responsibilities that come with marriage, such as childcare.

“If you’re mad at a friend, you can take off a few days to be upset and then you can go back and say, ‘That sucked,’ and laugh about it,” Luthar says. “With spouses, because you’re in the same room and so much is riding on your relationship, we’re much less likely to have that kind of space to do that, so we snap each other’s heads off. There’s less baggage associated with friendships.”

And actually, having good friends around can also, it turn out, help improve your marriage. In the study, the researchers noted that “having close friendships may help to sustain the marital relationship by reducing the burden on the marriage to fulfil all of one’s emotional needs.”