The Start-up Widow

This is the second of my posts relating to Randy Pausche’s wonderful Last Lecture. He said that while it’s great to achieve your own childhood dreams, it’s wonderful to help others achieve their own childhood dreams.

For the last eight years I’ve been a start-up widow. You’ve heard of golf widows? Well, I’m a start-up widow.

Jed started itechne eight years ago here in Sydney. Today the company has over 150 clients across the nation and we’re about to move to Colorado to launch the company and its core products in the US market. So Jed’s not getting much downtime.

In fact, we sat down together for a cup of tea yesterday and he said to me (jokingly) “Hi, who are you?”

I’m glad that these days I can laugh with him over that, instead of resenting it. I think there’s a special maturity in realising that supporting your spouse in achieving a childhood dream doesn’t detract from your own ability to achieve. Or your own worth or value in the relationship.

After eight years of being the start-up widow, I now wake him up in the morning with a cup of tea and the words, “Get up! Multi-nationals don’t run themselves.” (That’s sort of a joke… sort of.) I no longer monitor the dinners he misses or times he gets up at 4am to catch a plane interstate that I know nothing about. It’s all part of the reality of being a start-up widow. I wish I’d have known what to expect in the beginning.

Being a start-up widow has been lonely a lot of the time. There are no start-up widow clubs, forums or chat rooms. No flylady for start-up widows. My mother thinks I should be sainted. I think my friends believe I’m superwoman. But that’s not the case at all. For the first four years I spent a lot of time really upset and resentful. There’s still a mark on the wall from an apple I threw at Jed’s head one day. (He deserved it.)

There are numerous ways of dealing with the reality of being a start-up widow. Now I think I’ve found it. I have found my own areas of success. I went back to Uni and completed my Bachelors degree as well as a Grad Dip in VET. I’m a great teacher and student, and pretty darned fine mum.

Recognising my own strengths is something I would never have done without being a start-up widow. It’s pretty hard to be married to a guy who is achieving a childhood dream without wanting to realise some of your own. So while I have had very little involvement in the hands-on creation of itechne other than signing on the dotted line, making tea, etc, I’m holding it all together at home and being inspired by what Jed’s accomplishing. I’m inspired to do even better at something I knew I’d be okay at.

My first Graduation
My first Graduation

I am fulfilled in seeing him working every single day on something I know he loves, has commitment to, and passion for. It doesn’t matter if the destination is reached or even guaranteed – if you get to have a spouse who is doing something every day they have a passion for, then that’s better than anything. And it rubs off. It makes you want to achieve more. It challenges you, in a positive way, to aim higher.

Awkward and ironic thing is, that makes the spouse want to aim higher too.

So now I’m packing up our house, and looking at selling it. I’ve taken leave without pay from the best job I’ve ever had, and I’m leaving some kids and dogs behind in Australia while we go launch ourselves on the USA. (Don’t worry, the kids are staying with family here. I’m not just letting them run wild.)

Bec and Max are staying in Australia
Bec and Max are staying in Australia

Maturity in being a start-up widow means I’m prepared for what this move involves. I’ve got my own plans for the US – and I have no expectations of Jed other than he’ll work his butt off. When being the start-up widow means I get to share some of that passion, then I’m a pig in mud.

I’m “Hung on a cliff, in search of something big.” (Thanks Neil Finn, for writing the best lyrics ever.) Even I don’t know what the ‘something big’ is. And to all those people who are telling me how “lucky” I am to be doing this, I say “well, what’s stopping you?”


  • Dear Start up widow…
    Although I am not married, I’ve been with my guy for 5 years. He is awesome and sounds alot like your husband.

    I have been contimplating leaving him for the reasons you speak of. I’vc never met any woman who has been thru it and has your attitude and out look. I have been putting off getting Randy’s book…but I will buy it today.

    I started following his stories for just a short while. It was last night on tv I found out he died. I’ve been wollowing in my own self pitty for so long…and am just realizing it now. I have so much to offer and so much to give. I am ashamed that I wasted so much time. So now is the time to move forward and find me again and really give of myself…to others…and to me. Good luck in the US. Teri

  • I just got out of bed with a sick kid and found your comment waiting moderation. Thanks so much for posting it.
    Teri, I know how you feel. Nobody can tell you what to do other than you finding it yourself. I really hope you find your steps forward in a way which consolidates and celebrates you personally as well as your relationship. Then both you and your partner will be ecstatic. I wish *you* the very best of luck. Send me an email any time. Jo.

  • I’d love to know how you managed to find yourself and what youre good at while in the relationship…this is my porblem…Youre blog is fab!! x.

  • Hi Mediamum — I have been looking for something like this on this topic for years now. We need support groups! I have been a “start up” widow for the majority of my marriage. I will be married 11 years this August. Right now I’ve had the privledge of working in a start up with my husband, which helps us connect. It’s the only way I’d ever see him! But here’s my question – the resentment doesn’t seem to go away. I don’t think of it when I am working with him. But when I am home with children and he’s at the office all day everyday all weekend…well, you catch my drift. I feel like I’ve lost years of my marriage and years with my kids when they were little due to stress, worry and discontentment. I want those years back. How do you move on? How do you look to the future and be hopeful? Don’t get me wrong, I have great, optimistic days. But then there are the days where I am screaming and throwing things and foaming at the mouth thinking this is the only way I will get back those lost years. Thank you for posting this – I think we all need to support each other!!!
    thanks again!! Emily

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