Meghan Markle gets real about the pressure of being ‘The Good Wife’

Written by Leah Sinclair

In the latest episode of Archetypes, Meghan unpicks the pressure of perfectionism when it comes to being a mother, wife, partner and more.

Meghan Markle’s Archetypes podcast has done a great job of breaking down the many tropes that women continue to be confined to today.

From the ’bimbo’ to the ’angry Black woman’ stereotype, these toxic depictions of womanhood continue to limit us and our ability to move freely – and the archetype that Meghan is unpicking in her latest podcast is that of is ‘the good wife and mother’.

In the podcast, the duchess sits down with friend Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, a retired television host and wife of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, to discuss the pressures women face when it comes to being a mother, wife or partner and the way society places limitations on what that should look like.

Introducing Trudeau, whom Meghan met while living in Toronto seven years ago, she said: “She [Trudeau] knows what it feels like to be a mum and a partner, and specifically a mum and a partner in the public eye, and also how crushing the guilt of expectations can become – the guilt that we feel as mothers or as women.”

In the podcast, the friends discussed the guilt that mothers and women often feel, with Trudeau adding at times that it is “self-imposed”.

“I think we’ve learned to self-impose. A little girl is not born feeling guilty for being a girl; we learn it, and that’s completely unacceptable.

“So, I think that when I started becoming an older girl and at an early adult stage, I realised that we often define freedom as a way to be free from the world, but it’s really a way to be free in the world.”

The duo also discussed the stress and anxiety placed on mothers and the societal pressures they face.

“The stress and anxiety that people are feeling these days – whether it’s the pandemic, whether it’s because you’re a struggling mom and your kids can’t make it to school – whatever your situation is, the stress and anxiety is real and our sense of community has completely exploded,” says Trudeau. 

“We have sisters who can mother, we have aunties who can mother, we have friends who can mother. Mothering is a way of being; it’s not just biological and I think we’re seeing how that’s evolved so much.”

Meghan made a vital point about the importance of providing support to parents and how it’s about “what we, as a people, can provide”.

“They used to say it takes a village to raise a child and we no longer have villages, really, at least where we live,” she said.

“It doesn’t feel that way… that sense of community has changed in so many regards, but it doesn’t mean that that energy and that sentiment can’t still be there.”

Dr Shefali Tsabary, author of A Radical Awakening: Turn Pain Into Power, Embrace Your Truth, Live Free also featured in the podcast, where she highlighted why it’s important to free ourselves from “these personas of perfectionism”.

“We’ve fallen into this trap that we as a modern women can do anything. Now that sounds like a liberating message, but it’s not so liberating – I would go so far and boldly to say it’s toxic. We are falling into these misguided beliefs about who we should be – these personas of perfectionism and grandiose delusions that we can do it all.

“The pendulum swings the other way to great self-abnegation, loathing and shame. That’s the other side of that pendulum. So the goal is not to not guilt ourselves or not shame ourselves. The goal is to get out of that pendulum-swinging madness altogether.”

Dr Tsabary adds that women shouldn’t destroy their “essence” for this illusion of perfectionism or this image of the good wife and the good mother because “those are just images”.

“The best mother and the best woman you can be is the authentic one. The one who is deeply connected to her own knowing – and that doesn’t take effort, it takes stillness. It takes quiet, it takes relaxation and reflection.”

Image: Getty

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