Water Wives


“I feel guilty about ____________”.

Fill in the blank.

Is your guilt earned? Have you actually harmed yourself or someone else? Have you really done something wrong?

Or is your guilt unearned? Do you feel guilty because of someone else’s beliefs or your own? Are you feeling guilty without committing an actual wrong?

In my work as a Health and Life Coach, every single woman I speak to experiences guilt about something. Most of this guilt falls in the unearned category. My clients come to me to overcome guilt and move themselves up on their priority lists. They are smart, compassionate, capable, strong and motivated. They carry heavy weights on their shoulders.

Some women in India are known as “water wives”. They are married, often in name only, to men living in Indian villages that lack clean, safe drinking water. The inconvenient and arduous task of obtaining enough water can’t be completed by one wife, so others are brought in to share the load.

What if we admitted that we need to share the load? What if we gave ourselves permission to need and want?

Due to my immense privilege, I highly doubt that I will experience true and significant water scarcity. However, I have experienced a lot of scarcity in my life due to guilt and the belief that I have an obligation to suffer in order to love others fully, completely and effectively. Essentially, the way I am “supposed to”.

I have looked at my needs as luxuries and things that I need to earn rather than birthrights just because I am a human being. In general, I wouldn’t treat or push others as harshly as I do myself.

Denial of our needs is more than a personal denial. Denial of our needs denies others and the world from experiencing the wonder, beauty and magic that only we can bring.

Suffering is not the best way to love. It’s actually the opposite. Loving ourselves and extinguishing unearned guilt are two of the best and most effective ways to spread genuine compassion.

Imagine if a woman in India would not accept a “water wife”. She would be taking on the impossible task of being solely responsible for providing water for her family and there still wouldn’t be enough. Not to mention that she would probably deteriorate physically, mentally and emotionally under the weight of this unrealistic burden.

How often do we try to do the impossible? How often do we suffer in the name of love? How often do we feel guilty for attending to our needs and wants?

How can you ask for and accept a “water wife” in your life?