How often have you heard this: “Why didn’t you tell me all the stuff you had to do! I could have helped!” In many households, the woman is assumed to be in charge of everything to do with managing domestic affairs, including ensuring that there’s food in the home, that laundry is done, that the place isn’t too messy, that the social schedule is maintained…and on and on. And that’s without the absolute monster of managing kids’ schedules and logistics!
When the partner – usually a man – complains that they weren’t helping because they didn’t know what to do, they’re making the assumption that the woman needs to know everything that needs to be done AND can carve out specific tasks that they can assign to the man. In the professional world, this isAlthough the global pandemic affects everyone, it’s no secret that in America, women have been disproportionately hit with the economic burden associated with the upheaval to daily life. Dubbed a shecession, the crisis has resulted in women around the country losing or quitting jobs to take care of kids who have missed school or have no alternative care arrangements available.
When faced with difficult situations, it’s more important than ever to ensure that families are functioning in as healthy a way as possible. Even in the best of times, the invisible labor you do can feel overwhelming. In order to avoid feeling alone and helpless, you need to share the burden of managing a home and family as honestly and transparently as possible.
For many families, there’s no roadmap to achieving this sharing. Women just pick up the pieces and soldier on, feeling increasingly isolated and lost; meanwhile, their partners don’t understand how they’re feeling or what they’re experiencing. This leads to communication breakdowns and resentment. However, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your partner is giving you the support you need.
Become co-managers called being a manager – and managers get paid more for a reason.
Rather than enduring a managing-supervisor relationship in the household, make a commitment to truly being co-managers. Together, identify specific areas where each person will be in charge and the other person the “helper.” That way, there’s accountability and ownership on both sides – and you don’t have to be in charge of telling everyone what to do!
Check in daily
New habits are hard, and establishing new household norms is super hard. One helpful tool is to have a check-in at the end of the day when the kids are in bed. Although it can be tempting to just sink into the couch and stare at screens, making time to actively listen to each other will pay off massively. A key part of this is allowing each partner to have a turn, rather than having one person dominating the conversation. The Gottman Institute (a popular couples’ psychology service) suggests that each partner get 15 minutes of time, but that may be too much for some households. However, devoting at least 10 minutes to this daily check in will be useful.
Have longer conversations each month
Daily conversations are key to feeling heard and supported. But you also need an avenue to look at the bigger picture. How are things going generally? Are there big red flags? Is anything missing? Are things running smoothly? For this, you need time and space. For many couples, organizing a time each month where you can connect on a broader level – without any expectation of romance or obligation – is hugely beneficial. You can do this in an enjoyable setting – in a restaurant, on a walk, or just on the couch. What’s important is that both partners approach the conversation with energy and intention.
Accept that this won’t be easy
New ways of working together are always difficult, and we’ve all endured our share of difficulties over the past two years. Taking on something challenging like changing your household relationship can feel intimidating. But if you feel daunted, remember that investing in communication and cooperation with your partner is always time and effort well spent.
Seek out support
It’s unrealistic to expect that you and your partner can manage on your own, 100% of the time, but the good news is that you don’t have to. Mood Health offers comprehensive, whole-person mental healthcare, all from the convenience of home. Whether you’re interested in finding support from a talk therapist, looking to try medication, or a combination of the two, Mood is an easy and enjoyable way to access the care you deserve.
Visit Mood Health to learn more!