Lisa McLeod - Is a girlfriend the saving grace of marriage?

We women are usually pretty well acquainted with the saving graces of girlfriends. We might not spend enough time with them, but we instinctively understand that when the chips are down, it's the girlfriends who come to your aid.

However, many men don't realize just how much their wife's girlfriends can improve their half of the marriage.

Scientific studies show that when a woman spends time with her female friends, her body releases a chemical called oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that cascades all the way through your body.

Commonly called the Hormone of Love or the Cuddle Hormone, oxytocin is a mood regulator that decreases anxiety and depression, and while men and women both produce oxytocin, women produce more. Women also release oxytocin during childbirth and breastfeeding, but the feel-good effects in those situations are either obliterated by the pain or totally directed toward the child.

But when a woman spends time with her girlfriends, the oxytocin effect spills over into every other aspect of her life.

Guys, let me spell it out for you: Oxytocin makes a woman feel more loving, and the more oxcytocin she's got coursing through her system, the more she'll have to share with you.

Any man who has ever observed a group of women out to dinner by themselves or experienced the aftereffect of his wife's girls getaway weekend knows exactly what I'm talking about.

As a speaker at the Ultimate Girls Getaway in Bermuda this April, I found this quote on their Web site (www.UltimateGirlsGetaway.com) from a past attendee that sums up the lasting effects of a girls getaway, "Come for fun, bonding, friendships, and go home a nicer wife, mommy and friend!"

I have to believe her husband is pretty glad she went.

Event organizer Nadja Piatka, who first began her Girls Getaways 15 years ago with The Ultimate Pajama Party, says, "It's cheaper than therapy, and absence makes the heart grow fonder."

Piatka, who along with her MBA daughter Veronica hosts several events a year, is best known as the super-successful Buffalo-based businesswoman whose healthy brownie and cake empire landed her on Oprah and the Donny Deutsch show.

However, despite her success, Piatka and her equally busy daughter discovered that "there was never enough time to enjoy each other, their girlfriends, or to do the things they love to do, unless they got away, really got away!"

So in the interest of my marriage, I'm making the sacrifice, packing my pajamas and joining them in Bermuda next month. It's a lot to ask of a woman, four days of drowning myself in oxytocin and mai-tais.

But I love my husband, so I figure it's the least I can do to keep him happy.

Contact Lisa Earle McLeod is at www.ForgetPerfect.com.