How can men and women work together to understand mental load–and deal with it well?
It’s the last Thursday of the month, which means our podcast today is aimed at men (although both men and women can listen!).
And today we’re capping off our mental load/emotional labor series by focusing on what mental load means, and understanding why “just make a list and I’ll do it” isn’t what women actually want.
Before we jump into that, though, let me introduce you to “Sheila’s Spotlight” item today. Your support of my affiliate suggestions helps me keep ads off of the blog! And here’s one of my favourite products for the guys: Grillmaster’s Club. If you’re staying away from restaurants during COVID, what better time to up your barbecue game? Your Grillmaster’s Club subscription gives you a new barbecue sauce, new rub, accessories, recipes, and more every month. And it’s super fun and you’ll learn so much about grilling! Check it out.
And now, I’d invite you to listen to the podcast!
It’s often hard for women to explain what mental load means to them–but it’s the #1 reason for women’s low libido.
When women feel as if they have to keep all the details of the household/kids in their head at all times, because otherwise things won’t get done, it can be exhausting. They can never switch “off”. And if you can’t switch off, then it’s hard to switch on with libido!
So many women have said something to me this week that echoes this woman on Instagram:
I’ve been having SUCH a hard time getting into words mental load and why I’m having such a hard time as a SAHM even though I don’t work at all. The past few episodes you have released have finally given me WORDS and reasons why I’m feeling overwhelmed, even though my husband does a few things for me such as grocery shopping etc.
We’ve been talking about this all month, and today in the podcast Keith and Connor discuss why guys need to get more engaged at home (and what that looks like), and Connor and Rebecca discuss when lists can actually work.
But the big picture is the same: women really need men to be present and invested in the household life.
You can’t just say, “I’ll do the paid work, and you be responsible for the house.” Not when the house includes everything to do with the kids, and remembering all the in-laws birthdays, and remembering that there’s potluck at church this Sunday and we need to cook something, and remembering all the different extracurricular activities, and remembering that it’s our turn to bring the snack for the kids’ hockey, etc. etc. etc. It’s too much.
And even if a guy has a stressful job, he can’t check out of the home. Kids need their dads to know what’s going on and being engaged!
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But how do you figure out how to divide mental load?
I’ve got tons of posts on it this month, and rather than reiterating them all, I’d invite you to read them:
Posts in the Mental Load/Emotional Labor Series:
How Emotional Labor Series: How Mental Load Affects Marriage
The Fair Play Solution: Conception, Planning, Execution
The Emotional Labor Series: How Do We Decide Our Standards?
The Emotional Labor Series: How to Eliminate Nagging for Good
Mental Load Example: The "Let's Go to the Beach" Saga
The Emotional Labor Series: Why The Daily Grind Needs to Be Shared
The Emotional Labor Series: Why Everyone Needs Time to Themselves
PODCAST: What is Emotional Labor?
If you’re going to read anything from that list, I’d suggest reading the first post on what emotional labor is, and the post on the “let’s go to the beach” conundrum. And then discuss them with your spouse. Often men and women have very different reactions to these posts, and so they’re great jumping off posts to talk about this stuff!
Rebecca and Connor also talked about when lists CAN work.
Yesterday on the blog Keith talked about why he kissed “just give me a list” goodbye. He realized that owning tasks was a much better way to do it!
But sometimes lists CAN work, and Rebecca and Connor talked through how they created chore lists for certain days, and then whoever is “on” the house that day has to do them all.
In my post on the “let’s go to the beach” saga, a number of commenters were also saying that they had lists for special events, like “what to pack when we go away for a week” or “what to pack when we go camping” or “what to pack to go to the beach”, and then they both chipped in and did what was on the list.
So that’s it! I hope that this podcast helps guys better understand what we’ve been talking about all month. Again, the aim was not to man-bash. It was simply to explain, “this really burdens a lot of women and is hurting marriages, and it’s actually a relatively easy fix.”
So that’s it for today! What do you think? Can lists work? Do men and women just see this differently? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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