07/05/2014 08:14 BST | Updated 06/07/2014 06:59 BST

Female Friends: The Antidote to Family Irritations?

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There is something extra special about friends. You can have a husband, partner, children, but you still need those extra special friendships in your life.

I love my friends. I can almost plot them through my different life stages. My friends have been there through thick and thin. They have helped to structure the route that my life has taken and will take in the future.

Some of my closest friends know me almost as well as my husband and children. Or maybe they just know me in a different way. Somehow they understand where I'm coming from, they know exactly how I feel when I'm overwhelmed by the stresses and strains that life throws out and they offer a tremendous escape from the humdrum of home life.

For me, home life is great, but it's not enough. I can't quite put my finger on it, but my friends add an extra dimension. They add advice, support, fun and interesting hobbies which is so valuable in keeping me on an even keel. And after a night out with friends, I somehow appreciate my family more. I somehow see my family from a different perspective. When you're with the same people day in, day out, it's easy to become bored and a little dis-satisfied with your lot. It's easy to think the "if only's" and "I wish's".

But friends can make everything become more light hearted. We all get fed up of our husbands and partners sometimes - let's face it, they can sometimes be pretty irritating, but a good laugh and a bit of analysis helps to get everything in proportion. I don't know what it is about female friends, but they just understand. You only have to mention one irritating thing, and they come up with 10 more, which makes the issue become less of an issue. It becomes more something that you need to get off your chest. Friends help me to hang onto a bit of 'me'. They help me to hang on to the independent single person who was there before the husband and children.

What makes friends so special? We'll all have a different answer to that question. But one thing is for certain, friends are invaluable, friends are necessary and lifesavers. And they are something that I will never be without.