Here's the thing about us women, we're sneaky when we're being mean. You can't always tell when another woman is envious of you, or overly perfectionist about herself. A conversation can look civilized to a neutral outside observer, yet from the insiders perspective of your heart, it's a flat out bar room brawl.
So St. Ignatius of Loyola's of discernment of spirits is always helpful. Jesus promises us "My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me." (John 10:27). Can you identify Jesus' unique voice over the noisy din of the world?
Jesus' words are always encouraging, gentle, and hopeful. He does admonish us, but it's "admonishment"--not eye rolling, sarcastic comments, put downs or jokes at others expense. Jesus does not give us a "manic" list of things we've got to do better, right now! It doesn't matter how Holy a woman appears on the outside, if you're not leaving her presence feeling uplifted and re-energized about your vocation as a wife, then she is not good friendship material!
I'm not always great at recognizing "hurtful" female friendships yet--but my husband is! (That his protection role coming out in full force.) A few years ago, he told me to stop reading certain blogs because they negatively impacted my psyche. At first it felt so strange to follow his advice--"I can't stop talking to these women online, we have a relationship, we're friends!" Yet in my heart of hearts I knew he was right--I just couldn't figure out how to extradite myself from messy social obligations.
My advice to younger wives is "Embrace the Awkward!"
This year my husband asked me to ax a new friendship with someone who we see often. It is totally awkward. My withdraw has negatively impacted the friendships that my children had with this woman's children, and my husband had with her husband. My husband said "Who cares! You are more important!"
I don't think I'm the only woman who has it ingrained since birth to "play nice." Making a conscious decision to withdraw from a friendship feels so foreign. I've got to say, despite all the awkwardness--it's making my life so much better!
I like telling myself He needs me! (God) God's got things for me to do, people for me to love--and if I spend all my time licking my wounds from catty exchanges with women who I already know are not good for me, and don't have my best interests at heart--that's time I'm not spending helping to heal the world!
Remember: Jesus was many things to all people--but He never gave the Pharisee's access to his Divine Heart. Be more like Jesus!