By the time the evening rolls around is your mental exhaust at an all-time high? After a long day of work, picking up kids at daycare, and figuring out what to eat for dinner, you probably haven’t had much time to think about yourself. So, the last thing that you want to do is make more decisions. But, even if you live in a household where household chores, like emptying the dishwasher and cooking are pretty evenly split, one person typically takes on more than their share of the mental load. That is, one person makes decisions about small everyday things for both persons in the couple. In heterosexual couples, the person that typically takes on most of the mental load is the female. If you are doing this in your relationship, it is a surefire way to develop mental burnout.
What Is the Mental Load?
The mental load refers to the often invisible tasks that are involved in a household. These include things like meal planning, scheduling bill payments, or making chore lists. The person who takes on the mental load plays the role of the “Household Manager.”
Mental Burnout – The Effect of Taking On Too Much of the Mental Load
When one person ends up taking on more than their fair share of the mental load, it can lead to resentment and arguments in a relationship. The person who is shouldering more than their fair share may feel stressed, frustrated, and on-edge. That is because being responsible for the planning of household tasks and other tasks takes a toll on a person when they don’t have enough support. It can lead to mental exhaust and lower overall well-being.
Signs That You Carry Too Much of the Mental Load
These are some signs that too much of the mental load is resting on your shoulders.
You Do the Research
Are you the one responsible for scouring Yelp restaurant reviews for the best place to get a haircut (for both of you), the best place to eat, and the number one spot for an oil change? If you are constantly researching where to eat or what to buy while your partner sits back, there’s a good chance that you are doing more than your fair share of the mental load.
You Send Out the Cards
Do you always send out birthday and Christmas cards? Does remembering important dates, like anniversaries, fall on your shoulders?
You Do the Scheduling and Coordinating
Are you always the one scheduling doctor’s appointments for everyone in the house? Do you keep the running list of what items the household is out of? Does planning date nights or romantic evenings fall on your shoulders? These are all examples of mental labor.
Are You Experiencing Mental Burnout From Invisible Labor?
So, what can you do to remedy the situation if you are experiencing mental burnout because of an imbalance of emotional labor in your relationship? The first step is talking about it.
Talk to Your Partner
Have an honest dialogue with your partner. Make sure that you’re calm and not upset. Simply tell your partner what you have noticed when it comes to how mental labor is split in the home. Provide concrete examples. Let them know that you are experiencing mental exhaustion and need some help.
Ask for Help
The conversion where you ask for help might go something like this: “I’d like to offer you the chance to take on more of the mental responsibilities in the relationship. What tasks would you like to take over?”
Once your partner takes over more of the mental load, it’s important to recognize the positive change. Let them know that you appreciate their support. Talk about how it’s improved both your lives and your relationship.
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