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Sharing the mental load; Can't you just give me a list?

chores kids marriage mental load Feb 05, 2024

What is the Mental Load?

Mental load refers to the constant planning, organizing, and managing of a household and family life. It's the invisible labor that includes not just doing tasks, but also remembering, planning, and coordinating them. Often, women disproportionately bear this load, handling the nuances of daily life from grocery lists to doctor's appointments.

Why the Gender Disparity?

The disparity often arises from traditional gender roles and expectations. Women, either by societal conditioning or personal inclination, tend to take on more responsibilities related to home and family. Men, on the other hand, might not recognize this imbalance due to different upbringing or awareness levels.

Personal Experiences: A Tale of Two Shifts

Our personal journey, reveals two significant shifts in managing the mental load in our family. The first shift occurred when parenting our daughter, where we strived for equal involvement in hands-on parenting. The second, a more profound change, happened post-COVID, necessitating a complete overhaul in our family dynamics.

The Consequences of Imbalance

An unequal distribution of mental load can strain a marriage. Women may feel overwhelmed and resentful, perceiving their partners as additional dependents rather than co-contributors. This imbalance can lead to arguments, frustration, and a sense of isolation in managing household affairs.

Addressing the Imbalance: Communication and Adaptation

The key to rebalancing the mental load lies in open communication and flexibility. Couples need to discuss their feelings and experiences honestly, acknowledging the differences in their approach to household management. It's essential to allow each partner the freedom to handle tasks in their own way, even if it differs from one's personal preferences.

Practical Steps Towards Balance

  1. Open Discussion: Initiate conversations about the distribution of mental load. Use our podcast episode as a starting point for this dialogue.

  2. Shared Responsibility: Encourage both partners to take ownership of household tasks, rather than one simply helping the other.

  3. Weekly Business Meetings: Establish regular meetings to discuss and plan household responsibilities, ensuring both partners are equally involved in decision-making.

  4. Flexibility and Letting Go: Learn to relinquish control over specific tasks. Accepting different methods of accomplishing the same goal can significantly reduce the mental load.

Embracing the Transition

Remember, transitioning to a more balanced approach is a process that may initially lead to more disagreements. However, these growing pains are natural and necessary for achieving a long-term, sustainable balance in your relationship.


"Sharing the Mental Load" isn't just about delegating tasks; it's about fostering an environment of mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation in relationships. By openly addressing the challenges and actively working towards solutions, couples can create a more harmonious and equitable partnership.

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