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APW Basics: The Self-Full Wife

Happy wife, happy life?

As Lucy mentioned in Happy Hour two Fridays ago (aptly titled the “Lucy-Lucy Comedy Hour”), Meg and I were at Alt Summit in late January. For those of you who might not know, Alt is a four-day blogging and digital media conference that takes place in Salt Lake City. (Meg was giving a talk there this year on the business of blogging; I was there hustling for APW.) If you follow the Alt Instagram account or #AltSummit hashtag, you might be tempted to think that this conference is an excuse for glittery dance parties and shameless photoboothing. But really, all that is a cover, and the real magic of this conference is that you spend a few days absorbing a ton of information from super smart women (and a few men) about the changing landscape of online media. It’s empowering, and exciting, and sometimes I even get to talk with one of my business heroes about things like Facebook’s new algorithms.

But for me, Alt is about much more than gleaning the most recent tips on managing an online community and growing your social media channels. When I joined Meg at Alt for the first time last year, I was surprised to find that my takeaway was more about what was happening between classes. I saw moms with babies on their hips taking meetings and talking numbers, husbands waiting patiently in hotel rooms for their breadwinner wives to return, and women generally running the whole show. While this was going on, I heard not one conversation about having it all. Instead, everyone was just doing their best to honor themselves and their relationships, sans apologies. Alt is the one space where I see women being allowed to care about their families and their businesses, without having to qualify one to the other.

When Meg and I boarded the plane to come home from Salt Lake City, I searched for a way to summarize the way Alt makes me want to reinvest in myself, both for my own well-being and for the well-being of my marriage, and I kept coming back to the articles Meg wrote years ago, after she first started going to these kinds of conferences. It was these insights that first helped me realized I was being drastically undervalued in my old job and inspired me to find one that would pay me more. It was these posts that inspired me to take my photography business seriously, instead of sidelining it as a hobby. They were the posts that helped me realize that my happiness as an individual is directly linked to the happiness within my marriage. So today I’ve rounded up the best of APW’s take on what it means to be a self-full wife. If you’re feeling stuck or unfulfilled, either personally or professionally, and need a heaping helping of “You can do it,” I suggest reading them all. These are the game changers.

No One Asked You To Be A Martyr: “When you go to work each day knowing that you don’t love your job, but you can do it well. When you come home each night with more work to do, because you’re blessed enough to have a side project that turned into a job. When you don’t have enough time to yourself, but you know the bills have to get paid, and both of you need to be insured, and life must go on. It’s hard not to feel like a martyr. And none of us are at our best when we’re being martyrs, even if we’re only being martyrs in a tiny piece of our hearts. We’re not our happiest; we’re not our most generous; we’re not our kindest. And our poor partners. They didn’t ask us to be a martyr. They’re struggling too.”

The Self-Full Wife: “After a long, hard, slog, I’m myself first, and a wife second. As it should be. That doesn’t mean I don’t make sacrifices for my family. But it means I make self-full sacrifices. It means I sacrifice now with the full expectation that my husband is willing to sacrifice later if it’s needed.”

On Money AND Self Worth: “I’ve been thinking about how, as women, we often undervalue ourselves, our life stories, and what we’re capable of, and that leads to lost potential. We think, ‘I can’t do that; I can’t dream that big; I’m being selfish to even think about this; I don’t deserve to earn (or have my company earn) that much money; I shouldn’t have delusions of grandeur.’ And when this happens, we all lose. Think of all those projects that could have been created, those businesses that could have thrived, that money that could be flowing back into our communities. When we cut ourselves off at the knees we lose all that, our communities lose all that, we all lose.”

Women, Money AND Self Worth: Part II: “The reason I really think this conversation about women, money, and ambition is an important one to keep having in this space is because, the more fulfilled we are as people, the more our relationships thrive. So, to counter all the cultural nonsense about how being a bride or a wife or a mother is fulfilling enough on its own, we need to keep talking about the ways dreaming big makes us better brides, wives, mothers, and women.”

For me, being self-full looks like a job I enjoy, occasional solo travel, a cute haircut, a separate friend group that belongs to just me, and a weekly date with Grey’s Anatomy/Pretty Little Liars. These are the things that allow me to recharge and give me enough of a sense of self to continue bringing something interesting to my marriage. I don’t get there all the time, and I don’t always have all of those things at once, but the process of making myself a priority is often enough to make a difference. But that’s me (and my terrible taste in TV and overblown hair budget). What does being self-full look like to you?

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