Unless you married a unicorn husband, then chances are pretty high that you carry the weight of the mental load in your home. Nine months ago, I hadn’t even heard of “mental load,” nor was I aware that I carried it. Now, I’m one woke mama, and I’m actively redistributing the weight. I’m like a socialist of the mental load world—even distribution of burden is my ideology.
It is HARD work though! I mean–it takes a LOT of effort to turn the tide. But, the work you put in to change can lead to a hell of a lot of happiness.
There are three key meetings you need to have with your husband to finally redistribute the heavy weight of the mental load you carry for your family AND get your husband to SHARE THE MENTAL LOAD.
Meeting #1: State of the Union
As I mention at the end of Mental Load: The Reason You Resent Your Husband, getting to a more equal distribution of the “mental load” requires THE TALK. Or, what I like to call a “State of the Union.” These are the BIG deal talks I have every few years with my husband—not, the “where are we going on vaca?” talks.
If you don’t spend a little time planning out the State of the Union, then I’m almost 100% positive that it will not go smoothly. Not at first, anyway.
Why? Because this is an emotional topic. Without a plan of attack, you may struggle to make your actual point. You run the risk of getting caught up in the minutia—the details of all the things you do daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. And, you may blow up instead of talk. Plus, he’ll likely glaze over or feel attacked.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
You are only trying to plant the following seeds of knowledge:
- WHAT the mental load actually IS
- that you ALONE carry the weight of it most of the time
- he will have to start doing MORE
- you will need to BACK OFF of doing it all
Whatever you do, don’t try and divvy up the household tasks at the State of the Union meeting. If you do, then this is where you’ll LOSE him.
Let it sit for a day or two….or a week. I know–I can feel the eye rolls. That’s way more self-control than I had, trust me. BUT, learn from my mistakes. He’s gonna need a minute for it to set in.
The GOAL is for him to GET IT & to feel compelled to do his part–to share the mental load of the family.
Meeting 2: Show Me Yours & I’ll Show You Mine
A good LIST is a great talking point. It isn’t emotional. It’s factual. So, before Meeting #2, make a list of the things you do daily, weekly, monthly and yearly when it comes to the mental load of your family.
Here’s a few key things to focus on:
- Start with broad categories like: Cooking, Cleaning, Shopping, Organizing, etc.
- Then, get specific under the categories explaining exactly what you do daily, weekly, monthly, and even annually (Holidays, birthdays, vacation planning, etc.)
- A nice point would be to estimate about how much time out of your day you spend doing all the tasks. Talk about shock value!
I know. This seems like a lot of prep work for a conversation with your husband. BUT, when you over generalize what you do, then it somehow makes it easier to dismiss. So, if you make the list and use it to demonstrate your point, then it’ll have a lot of impact.
Let me show you.
Strategy #1: “I do all the cleaning around here every single day!”
Strategy #2: “Monday, I did 2 loads of laundry (wash, dry and fold), I changed the sheets on the kids’ beds, washed the sink full of dishes, unclogged the toilet, and I had to wash the dog after his latest romp through the mud. Tuesday, I cleaned our shower, took out the recycling, did all the ironing, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, cleaned another sink full of dishes, bathed the kids, and vacuumed the house. Wednesday, etc.”
SEE? Facts aren’t emotional. But, they are persuasive.
Benefits of Making Your List
Putting pen to paper serves two ends: first, it makes YOU realize how much you do, and, second, it will help HIM realize how much you do.
Sometimes we can feel like we’re drowning in motherhood. Making the list allows you to SEE the reasons behind the feelings. There are MANY reasons why we feel like we’re drowning–we are carrying a TON of weight. Of course we feel like we’re drowning!
Just Plant the Seed…
A word of warning: Definitely discuss how carrying the mental load of your family makes you feel–it is important he gets it. But, there’s a fine line between explaining your unhappiness and him feeling BLAMED FOR IT.
If he feels like you’re blaming him for your unhappiness in your roles, then he may feel attacked and shut down completely. Or worse, it’ll blow up into a huge fight. I’m pretty sure both happened to me, SO just a head’s up on that.
The best strategy is for him to walk away from your talk feeling like there’s a total injustice in how you’re saddled with this burden. If you can accomplish that, then he’ll be a lot more likely to feel compelled (on his own volition) to suck it up and do his fair share.
Let him sit with this for a minute. Leave the “plan” for redistribution for Meeting #3.
Meeting #3: Redistribution Plan
The GIST: Start small. Make the change stick. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Pick three categories that are the biggest burden for you. Find a way to divide the load evenly between the two of you. (For me, it was daily cleaning tasks, morning and evening routines with the children, and general “to-do” lists for the family.)
After a couple of weeks of sharing the mental load in those three areas, move on to the next category on your list, and so on.
I wish I could say that change is like flipping a switch, but you’re going to hit a lot of bumps along the way. We are all stuck in our habits. It takes a LOT for us to change those habits. TRUEST ME–it’s not going to JUST be hard on him. It’s also going to be hard for YOU to sit by and NOT handle every little thing that pops up.
Example: I still struggle with watching my husband load the dishwasher. Drives me INSANE. But, I stop myself, and I let him do his insane loading job without a freaking peep out of my mouth. And, it all works out.
Mental Load Weight: 9-Months-ON, 9-Months-OFF
Getting to “even” can take a LONG time. The way I’ve come to think of it is like baby weight. It took you 9 months to pack on that weight, and it’s gonna take you at least 9 months to take it off.
Same with the weight of the mental load. I have personally been working on this “weight loss” program for 9 months now, and though I have seen dramatic changes, I still have those stubborn 10 LBS to shed.
Whatever system you go with, I would highly recommend slow and steady. Get on the same page. Talk about it. See eye to eye. Come up with a plan and work together to make the changes to share the mental load.
Ultimately the health of your marriage is in play, and your overall happiness, too. So, take the time to do it in a way that will stick.