What Happened When I Stopped Playing Secretary for My Family


Who run the world? Can't say, but I know who is emotionally supporting it.

by Stephanie Kaloi, Content Manager

mother and son pretending to fly on the beach

Two months ago I spontaneously decided I was finished. I was over and done with endlessly reminding my husband of what was going on in our lives. We were standing in the kitchen and I was about to repeat, for the third time, where I was headed out to when all of the sudden I realized I didn’t have to. I just said, “Hey, I’m headed out!” and smiled silently when, for the third time, he asked, “Where are you going?”

I brooded on the situation as I drove, and upon arriving decided that Things Were Going To Change Around Here.

My husband, bless him, is fantastic at a lot of things. We’ve split chores, childcare, pet care, everything, for years. We communicate well (and learned how to the hard way), he’s gainfully employed, he doesn’t have bad habits that gross me out or make me think he’s going to get killed. He holds my hand during Grey’s Anatomy and ended up super invested in Friday Night Lights, and for all of these things I appreciate him deeply. And yet.

Here’s how life went two months ago: on Monday, I would remind my husband about something we had going on for Friday. I would then remind him on Tuesday, on Wednesday, and on Thursday. Then, on Friday, about thirty minutes to an hour before we had to be there, he would inevitably, without fail, look up at me with wide eyes and a blank expression and ask what I was getting ready for, because weren’t we just hanging out at the house? Every. Single. Time.

The Invisible Work of Emotional Labor

There’s a lot of “worry work” that comes with being the calendar for your household, it’s what’s known as emotional labor. Recent feminist discussions have honed in on emotional labor and its impact on those who do it (and surprise: these people are mostly women), and I think for good reason. In our house, a lot of the emotional labor I have been doing involves our social lives, our son, and our house: keeping the calendar up to date, getting family gifts, making sure our son gets to doctors’ appointments, helping supervise our homeschool co-op once a week, getting groceries and running errands, and over-seeing homeschooling two to four days of the week. I’ve picked up a few new skills and tasks, all stuff that my husband was doing before he started working nights, sleeping during the day, and going to school. Stuff like figuring out the best way to turn the compost (which is totally A Thing), digging up the weeds where we want to plant our vegetable garden, and making sure the dogs get out as much as they need to. In short, this is a lot of labor, both emotional and not.

The Results So Far

Two and a half months after this experiment began, we’re doing pretty well. There are still random times that my husband asks me, again, where or what is going on, where we’re headed, or what I said earlier in the day… and if I feel like I’ve sufficiently explained it or told him already, I’ll just smile and say, “Hey, I think you have it somewhere in there” (there being his head). Usually, he finds out he actually does. Sometimes he doesn’t, but that’s okay because we’re no longer locked in a passive-aggressive struggle.

Of course, it’s a process. I started this post about a month before it was actually published, and at that point I was struggling, hard, with my multiple jobs and the lion’s share of the housework. I picked up an ultra part-time babysitting gig and thought it would break me, but instead of just quietly sucking it up… I spoke up. We sat down, and I told my husband that I may have met my quota for emotional labor. And then, the best thing happened: we looked at our schedules and figured out the days and times that would be easiest to divvy up all of the work that goes into our life more fairly. He’s homeschooling our son half the week, taking him to appointments, dropping him off, and picking him up. I’m doing dishes and have started cooking meals that comprise of more than cheese, fruit, and a baguette. We’re meeting in the middle, and the lines of communication are wide open.

who does the bulk of the emotional labor in your home? Do you think our culture needs emotional labor reform?

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! 😊 🎉 🎉).

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  • clairekfromtheuk

    I am *really* looking forward to this discussion!!

    If I think about it really hard, I guess I would have to say there’s a pretty even split in our house on a quantity basis but definitely not on a frequency basis i.e. I do the day to day of managing our social life etc whereas he does bigger, more time-bound stuff (like e.g. he’s doing nearly all of the research for our upcoming trip to NZ).

    Does this bother me? Sometimes (like, when I’ve told him about something 50 times and he still does the wide eyed look – GAH!!!) but truly, he’s actually a pretty good at adulting for himself (the benefits of taking care of himself and his daughter for 8 years post divorce and pre-me). BUT – I see this ALL THE DAMN TIME among all my women friends and I would love to get some new ways of talking about this from what I’m sure are going to be a ton of smart comments!!

    • LBH

      I think my husband would have been better off is he had had to adult by himself for awhile. He went from college to married to his first wife, to moving back in with his mom for a few months to get back on his feet post-divorce, to moving in with me. He had a few months on his own post-divorce, but not enough to really get a sense of “this is how you run an adult life.”

      • Amy March

        I think everyone benefits from adulting for themselves for a while! And it’s a major criteria for me in looking for a partner. Are you running your own life well? Do you live in a place that you keep generally clean, make plans with people and keep them, take care of chores? Not to say that you can’t figure out how to adult while married, but I’m 32- I’ve already learned those skills so at this stage in life if you can’t handle remembering Mother’s Day and feeding yourself, then no.

        • Eh

          I love my husband but he does not meet that criteria. It’s sometimes very frustrating. His mother has (gleefully?) admitted that it’s her fault.

          • another lady

            If you are a functioning adult and cannot figure out how to feed yourself in our society, then that’s not my problem! I’m sure there is enough food in the pantry, frozen pizza at the store, or take out near by that you can figure it our for a week! Also, I’m not packing your bag for a trip! It’s your sh**, figure out what you need and put it in a bag. If you forget something or bring the ‘wrong’ sweatshirt, that’s on you! My MIL, married 34 years, is FINALLY making my FIL pack his own bags after countless fights starting with, ‘you forgot to pack xyz for me!’ We did a lot of ‘encouraging’ and stepping in to point out that she shouldn’t be responsible for his sh**! This last trip, he packed his own back and forgot something… no one to fight with but himself! We were so proud!

          • Eh

            After a number of situations that made me feel like his mother and not his wife we have an arrangement and my husband has quickly learned how to do things for his own (before he met me he ate takeout or tuna helper every day). I have never made him meals when I go away and some of my married coworkers are always surprised since they do it for their husbands. I know that one time when I was gone he are hot dogs and pizza the whole time but that was his choice.

          • another lady

            My husband would happily eat pizza every day, and you know what, I’ve become okay with that. It’s his choice, his body, and I’m just not going to make him meals to feed him… he’s 33 years old and can decide for himself if he wants pizza or make himself something else!

          • Laura C

            Wow. It would never have occurred to me to make my husband meals when I go away! That’s a thing? For people under 60?

            When I’m gone, he eats Chinese takeout because due to celiac I mostly can’t eat Chinese unless we make it or go to PF Chang’s, so it’s his big chance. He was definitely a takeout and potato chips person before we started living together, but now he’s graduating from participating in meal prep under my direction to planning, shopping for, and making meals on his own. On Monday he made sous vide salmon, sauteed spinach, and rice. I helped a little, but he definitely flew lead on every aspect.

          • Eh

            It is unfortunately a thing. I have a number of 30-something coworkers who do it.

            Just before I went back to work after my Mat leave we looked through our recipe books and picked out things that we like that he can make since now he is doing most of the cooking since he is now on parental leave and I need to feed our daughter when I get home. I know that if I was away he would not put that much effort into cooking and would just get takeout (or hot dogs) but since we don’t normally eat like that it doesn’t bother me.

          • AP

            Yes. The few times my grandma left my grandpa alone (usually to visit her sister) my mom would always go over to his house with meals, and it made me so mad that she kept reinforcing the family gender imbalance. The women in my family completely bend over backwards for the men (my grandpa was always served first at dinner, women do all the cooking and cleaning up while the men watch TV, etc.) My mom also tells this story of how oblivious and selfish her brother is, because he never remembered birthday gifts growing up and she and her sister would always sign his name to their gifts. The last time she told this story, I pointed out that if she hadn’t put his name on the gifts in the first place, he’d have been embarrassed pretty quickly and learned to buy his own gifts. She did not appreciate that.

          • Amy March

            My mother always did all of the cooking for the family, which mean when my father was suddenly transferred overseas and had to live by himself for a while, he hadn’t cooked in 30 years. After 3 months of takeout curry, he got tired of it and figured out not just how to physically get the food from raw to cooked, but how to grocery shop, plan ahead, and make sure you have food on the table when you’re working from 7am to 8pm. And did all of this in a foreign country where he didn’t speak the language at age 60. Soooooo, yeah, guy in his 30s in NYC, you can sort this out just fine.

          • When I was 18, my mother refused to cook dinner anymore (she had been working fulltime for 5+ years at that point, and feeding a family of 6 is not small feat). Well, my dad went from believing that we should only eat out once a week, to eating out ~6 times per week. After realizing that it’s expensive and not very good for everyone involved, they’ve cut down to eating out only ~3 times per week. Although that number’s gone up again since all the kids left the house.

            It’s funny how that works, eh?

          • AP

            UGH I hate when my husband and I are packing for a trip and he keeps stopping me to ask “what should I bring? should I bring these shoes or these shoes?” while I’m obviously busy trying to get myself packed (and NOT asking him for help, I might add.) Same goes for “what should I wear?” while I’m trying to get dressed. The answer is always a loving version of IDGAF, so please stop asking!!

          • Eenie

            OMG packing. I’ve literally walked my fiance through this over the phone multiple times. He has on occasion forgotten: underwear, socks, toiletries, Pjs/comfy clothes, coat, shoes. I keep telling him to make a list and go through it every time. I should actually have him do that since his current system is ask me.

          • another lady

            yes! make him actually do the list! Or, keep an extra set of the common toiletries in a bag to bring with him so he doesn’t forget the toothpaste, again. Most trip that we go on, there are stores near our destination, so he can buy the socks or toothpaste there, if forgotten. Also, it might spur him to actually think things through better if he has to live without a coat or go spend money on a new one!

          • Eenie

            He has indeed had to do these things, including spending an entire weekend in jeans at my parents house and buying an oversized sweatshirt at wal-mart because he didn’t pack anything warm. I bought him a nice dop bag specifically for this reason (he kept forgetting stuff and running to the drug store). But when we’re together it affects me too when he forgets something because we have to run to the store/it’s my money too. I am going to ask him to make the list as he packs next time (he has a trip coming up). It’s something he should have done a while ago.

          • AP

            The thing that gets me is that he is a well seasoned traveler and spent years backpacking through Central America! He knows what to bring for every situation! I think he just needs the reassurance or something?? It kills me!

          • Eh

            I made my husband pack his own hospital bad for when I went into labour. He questioned what he would need. I pointed out that we could be at the hospital for a couple of days so he’d probably want a change of clothes and toiletries at a minimum.

          • Eh

            Thankfully my husband has never asked me what to pack (or maybe he did once and got a similar response and has never asked again). That said, I thought it was common sense that if you had plans to go to the theatre while on vacation that you would bring one nicer shirt and pants. My husband now always packs a nicer shirt pants, but my MIL’s response was that’s why I should pack for him (or he can buy an outfit one time and learn from his mistake). We’re going on vacation starting Friday so last night was the last night I was doing laundry before the trip (I am going out tonight). I asked him if there was anything he wanted washed and he put it in the laundry basket. I don’t have time to pack for him (or even think about what he needs to pack) because I have to pack for our baby since she can’t pack for herself.

          • AP

            Your MIL sounds like my dad’s mom. When he and my mom were newly married, they both worked. I guess the laundry started piling up, and rather than do it himself he brought it to his mother. Who promptly scolded my mom for not getting up an hour earlier before work to make sure all the chores got done. My mom replied that he was a grown man who could operate a washing machine perfectly well. That was over 30 years ago, and my grandma is funny now…I think she admires us younger women in the family for sticking up for ourselves more. I don’t think she ever felt like she could do that.

          • Eh

            We were visiting my in-laws on the weekend and my husband proudly claimed he did three load of laundry the day before. At my request he did put our daughter’s laundry in the washing machine and put in another load when that was done since I was out running errands for our vacation (way faster to run errands without a baby). I had sorted the laundry, I changed over the last load, and I folded all three loads. And I am pretty sure that is the first time he has helped with more than one load of laundry since we moved into our house two years ago. Before I started doing his laundry he wouldn’t wash his clothes for two weeks (he works in a restaurant and his clothe reek of food). (I realize that me doing my husband’s laundry doesn’t sound that good, but he can obviously do his own in a pinch, and he cleans the bathrooms, cleans the floors and washes the dishes, so washing his laundry when I am already doing laundry isn’t a bid deal.)

          • AP

            “proudly claimed he did three load of laundry the day before”

            This made me laugh so much:)

          • Eh

            I glared at him when he said it since I don’t go looking for praise when I do basic adult tasks.

          • eating words

            OMG, packing for travel. Granted, I’ve done a lot more traveling, but I cannot handle the “What should I pack?” questions. Well, figure out what you want to wear and what you’ll need.

        • LucyPirates

          This was my mantra! A partner should at the very least not be adding hassle or to my workload. If you can’t support yourself basically, you need some more time learning how. This may seem harsh but if you have to potentially add small people who will need all of the taking caring of, it’s pretty much self preservation.

        • Mrrpaderp

          I remember my smart, successful, ambitious friend telling me that the night before she left for a week-long trial, she had to stay up all night to cook a week’s worth of meals for her then-BF (now husband) because he couldn’t manage to feed himself for a week while she was gone. I was horrified. I was also The Single Friend at the time and got a lot of eye rolls from my Married Friends for not understanding the demands of married life. Which made me more horrified. And realize I needed to get new friends.

          • honeycomehome

            OH GOD. I have friends who are both doctors, and the wife said the same thing, once. I nearly fell off my chair. You need to DO WHAT? That goes beyond emotional labor, though.

          • Keeks

            OMG, but the best part of a partner traveling for work is that you get to eat all the foods that they hate or you’re too embarrassed to admit enjoying! How can you eat pizza and pickles and eggs all week if your partner’s already made everything?! (I really look forward to that 1 week/year my partner is out of town, clearly.)

          • Jessica

            My husband is gone one weekend a month and that is when I eat all the frittatas and eggplant I want!

          • AP

            Popcorn and wine for dinner!

          • Lisa

            I might have had this for second dinner last night after I got home from rehearsal…

          • Eenie

            We had a very serious conversation about how he was not allowed to judge my popcorn/wine eating. I’m pretty sure he still monitors the popcorn box. Downsizing to snack size was a great decision. Snack size is the perfect amount for me to eat all by myself.

          • Lisa

            My mom had an air popper she wasn’t using so we’ve borrowed it, and it has completely changed my life. I can make however much popcorn I want! I can put whatever toppings on it I want! I can buy super cheap kernels at the local co-op! It is the best thing ever.

          • Eenie

            I grew my own one year and popped on the stove! We are registered for an air popper and I’m pretty sure our pop corn loving friend (her reception had bags of popcorn and pop corn seasoning) will get it for us! I’m excited to use the kind of oil I want!

          • Lisa

            I am so excited to see other people sharing my enthusiasm for popcorn. I am the crazy lady at the movie theater who buys a bucket for herself and then uses the free refill on the way out so I can take it home, bag it up, and eat it throughout the week. It’s the best!

          • AGCourtney

            My MIL also has an enthusiasm for popcorn, and has a time-honored tradition where if either of her teenagers go to the movie theater on a date, they have to get the free refill of popcorn and back bring it back to her. Once, a boyfriend forgot – and he never forgot again. xD

          • AP

            I do mine on the stovetop and I definitely eat way more than enough for one person!

  • Eh

    The system that is working for us is that we have a shared Google calendar (both access from our phones – we put in our work schedules, appointments, and social events), we have a list app (mostly for groceries – before we started this he would finish something and not tell me; even after we start this it took him a while to make it a habit), and he has a whiteboard with a “to-do” list (which he manages but sometimes I help). He also has household chores that he does every week (and I do too).

    My MIL has an expectation of her DILs that they do all the “worry work” since she does it for her family (and her mom does it for her family). Me and my SIL have both have similar views that our husbands are grown men and don’t need us to treat them like children. My husband and his brother are the main contact person for social planning with their family. The first time my SIL and I were firm about this our husbands had a few stumbles (I think it was mothers’ day a few years ago and there was miscommunication about who was bringing what) but everything turned out fine (but we had two cheesecakes). My MIL’s response to her sons’ missteps was “that’s why the wife should do these things”. Years later my MIL is still frustrated that we are firm about her sons being contact person. She makes comments about that she feels that she does not see us (usually, specifically her granddaughters) enough. I also think she is under the (possibly false) impression that if her DILs were the contact person that we would see them more.

    • emilyg25

      Whyyyyyy does my husband’s family assume that all contact should go through me? Fortunately, he agrees with me and we’ve held the line on this and pretty well re-trained them. It’s just absurd to me. He was 48 when we got married! Did they just not ever make any plans with him for 30 years??

      • Eh

        It’s been hard to retrain my in-laws. They still think I am the gatekeeper because when they call my husband says “I’ll talk to Eh and get back to you”. So then if he does not get back to them fast enough they start contacting me (and I then tell him to get back to them – we’ve always already discussed it but he just hasn’t had time to get back to them). They don’t get that we actually discuss things with each other so even if they called me I would have to talk to him. They also decided that while I was on Mat leave that I should take the roll over because I was the one who was at home. However it was my husband’s work schedule that they needed to work around so it would be fast for them to talk to him.

      • My MIL and her husband used to do the same. She would typically try my husband first, but then would call me in the middle of the work day (and I do not work with my husband) to ask me to tell my husband to call her. Or to ask me things that were totally questions for my husband and not me. I can’t count how many times I told her in one form or another that I’m not his secretary, and if he’s not answering his phone in the middle of his work day, he’s in a meeting and couldn’t take a call. If it’s an emergency, tell me what it is, and I’ll try to interrupt his meeting, but no guarantees. It was never an emergency. The closest it came was when she wanted to tell him that “his aunt” died, which freaked me out because he only has one (amazing) aunt, but she’s MIL’s ex’s sister, so why would we hear it from her?! Nope, it was a great aunt that my husband has no recollection of ever meeting, and who his grandparents didn’t speak to. So not an emergency. Now that we both work from home in different capacities, they think our phones are interchangeable and we’re always together, even though my job takes me out of the house frequently. My husband often waits until we’re driving somewhere to want to call them and asks me to call, but instead I just put it on speaker and hold the phone up for him. :P

        • Eh

          My MIL called once to have me tell my husband his great-aunt died. I had never heard of this woman and she was not invited to our wedding (which is curious because most of my husband’s great-aunts and great-uncles were at my MIL’s insistence). The day of the funeral there was supposed to be a snow storm and my MIL was asking that we go to the funeral which was an hour drive from our house. Then later in the conversation my MIL admitted that they were not going to the funeral (prior commitments) but she was asking that we go to support my husband’s grandparents. I mentioned that my husband probably had to work that day and that the weather wasn’t supposed to be very good, so we probably couldn’t go. I texted my husband about it and looked up the woman in the family tree (it was his late-great-uncle’s wife). His text back to me was that he didn’t know who the woman was and that he may have met her at a family Christmas when he was a child.

          • ART

            Wow, your story just gave me such a big realization. My parents went to high school together, but have been divorced for 21 years. My mom is a social person and stays in touch with some of her HS friends, my dad is basically a hermit who doesn’t like people (our relationship is GREAT…) and isn’t in touch with anyone (at all, let alone from HS). It makes me SO uncomfortable when my mom asks my brother and me to tell our dad that an old friend of his from HS has died. I don’t know any of them. I never do tell him, and she follows up every time (“did you mention to your dad that X died? they were really good friends!”) I finally said mom, I talk to my dad for like 10 minutes per month, if that. I’m not going to spend any of that time breaking the news to him that someone I don’t know and have never talked to him about has died! If he cared, he’d be on facebook finding out for his damn self. But now I also realize, why the hell is it MY job, or my mom’s job for that matter, to send this message? In particular, to someone who’s spent his whole life de-emotionalizing his relationships to the point of absurdity? It’s a huge projection of our emotional expectations onto him, and that’s so unnecessary. And ultimately unfulfilling because he’ll never respond with “oh, thanks for letting me know, I’ll send flowers” or anything of the sort. So why does my mom think it’s her responsibility to maintain those connections for him, 21 years after they split up? Whole ‘nother level. Maybe if I express this to her she’ll stop!

      • AP

        I’m right there with you. My husband complained to me recently that we never see his family and I was like, “why is that my problem?” Check our calendar, call them, invite them over, make a plan! Or don’t check our calendar and go see them when it’s convenient for you, even if I’m busy! Your relationships with your family are yours to maintain, not mine.

    • Keeks

      Ugh, my mom is *that* MIL. It breaks my heart to hear her blame my SILs for things my brothers do or don’t do. And of course, having multiple SILs means different personality types (and even generational differences), so one of them is happy to do all the emotional labor, and another SIL gets annoyed when my mom calls her first instead of her actual son.

      Thank goodness my in-laws realize that my husband is a grown-ass adult and seem to have no preconceived notions of “wifely duties.” I got lucky.

      • Eh

        There is a difficult (narcissistic) family dynamic on my husband’s side so that adds to the issues. My BIL is the golden child and can’t do anything wrong so his wife gets blamed for things that clearly are my BIL’s fault (my husband and my SIL are both scapegoats). Just before our wedding my BIL said something very rude and when discussing the situation with us my MIL blamed my SIL for what my BIL said. I called her out and said that BIL said it and he has to take responsibility for saying it. I got back a line from my in-laws that she most have told him to say it because he would not have said it on his own.

        • Keeks

          I suspect that there’s a touch of narcissism in our family, plus we have the added dynamic of multiple-divorced parents. My oldest SIL is definitely the golden child, and I know that I am compared to her a lot.

          • Eh

            Coming from the outside, reading about the family dynamic (I had never heard of it before) and learning to recognize how it plays out in different situations has helped me deal with my in-laws. It has also helped my husband understand that how they treat him is not right.

    • Laura C

      The ways people enforce women-as-emotional-laborers from outside the relationship is so big. If everyone always comes to you with those type of questions, it becomes so much harder to keep balance inside your relationship. Just like when people ask about husbands “helping” around the house or with kids rather than assuming that they have an actual share of the responsibility.

      My MIL trained her sons not to be adults (a couple days after Christmas I watched her bring up my BIL’s laundry, fold it, and PACK HIS SUITCASE before taking him to the airport for the flight I’m 95% sure she had booked for him) and now of course it’s a constant struggle to get her to treat my husband as an adult and not run everything through me. I’m expected to be the adult in the relationship and do the emotional labor and run his life as she would. I actually once said to her “I don’t think you want him in a relationship with someone who acts like his mother,” but I don’t think it sunk in. She’s gotten better on certain things, but having a baby is definitely going to challenge the progress we’ve made. Last night she asked to talk to me and of course it was a question about the baby registry she hadn’t bothered to ask him.

      Meanwhile my dad recently says to me “having a baby is often a time in a relationship when gender roles become more pronounced. Have you thought how you’re going to deal with that?” Well, we’ve thought a lot about it, but getting other people to respect that may be another story…

      • Eh

        I totally agree about getting people to respect your decision is another story. My father worked part-time before I was in school and he was a teacher while I was in school so he did most of the childcare. My FIL always refers to a father taking care of his child/ren as “babysitting” (he admits he “babysat” his sons). My BIL took parental leave when their youngest was born because my SIL was a student (and didn’t qualify for leave) but way less was expected of him than was expected of me by my in-laws while I was on mat leave. Just before our daughter was born my husband slipped up (in front of my father) and said he would be “babysitting” our daughter when I went back to work. My father said “it’s called parenting when you are watching your own children”. So now my husband uses that line when someone makes a “babysitting” comment to him.

        My MIL is surprised that I don’t pack my husband’s suitcase (she packs my FIL’s). That said, she is also surprised that I frequently drive when my husband is in the car (my MIL called my cell one day to get a hold of us because she assumed my husband was driving – she was surprised when my husband answered the phone).

        • I really want to high five your dad right now. :D

  • Eenie

    I’ve found not keeping “mental” lists to help a lot. Grocery list is now a shared app. Shared budget. Shared wedding to do list. I still initiate making the list, but I’m not the only one responsible for checking it off/adding stuff.

    I will say that the one thing that has been revolutionary in the kitchen is using Prep Dish. We split all the duties for planning and cooking evenly using this method. The one week we skipped we had an epic meltdown where each of us felt like we were doing more work. It is just as easy for him to go through a month’s worth of recipes to figure out the meat we need to buy in bulk as it is for me. We just both spend the same amount of time prepping and cleaning dishes for the meals on Sunday. It has been wonderful. I no longer am the “meal planner” and getting that off my plate was the best $100 we spent this year (annual subscription). It’s also nice when there’s a million dishes or the food tastes crappy we can just blame the Prep Dish and not the cook!

    http://prepdish.com/

    • Lizzie

      YES to moving lists from mental to shared/tangible!! Seriously, it’s made such a huge difference.

      I use another recipe manager (Paprika!) and had a similar shift as you – I used it for several years, which meant that I default had the recipes and grocery list, which meant I owned the information even if he offered to do the shopping. I kept saying things like “you should totally get Paprika, it’s awesome!” and he would laugh and say the $5 price tag is silly. But when I finally said “I need you to spend $5 to buy this app so that we can share the burden of grocery shopping and meal planning, I know it’s expensive for an app but I need you to get it,” he did get it, and now it’s shared. H.U.G.E. difference in the day-to-day!

      My favorite part of Paprika: going grocery shopping together and watching each other check off items on the auto-synced shopping list. It’s weirdly intimate to see him knock off the dairy items and know where he is in the store. Hah, long-term-partner thrill. : )

      • Eenie

        Reminds me of an article where people will spend $500+ on a phone/tablet and then REFUSE to pay the $1-$5 for apps. We use Keep on our android phones (free). I made a grocery list and shared it with him. Then he asked about the grocery list and I explained I’m using keep and he needs to download it on his phone. He reluctantly did. The following week HE started the grocery list :)

    • Yes! This is most of the reason why we switched to Blue Apron. I don’t care if food costs $10/head, I don’t want the emotional labor of meal planning and making sure we have the groceries needed. Also, I’m tired of eating chicken nuggets on salad every night. Figuring out cooking and dish-cleaning is enough effort as it is. So we outsourced it.

      We use ‘Buy Me A Pie’ to keep track of what in-between foods we need (lunch, non-Blue-Apron dinners, snacks), but it’s usually just milk, eggs, fruit, cheese, and chocolate.

      • Eenie

        I am seriously starting to doubt how we would manage kids in the mix. I’m struggling enough with just the two of us and all the mess we produce.

        • Magi

          This is a good question, and one I don’t think comes up often enough in the “should we have kids?” question. If it’s so much work to equally share the household responsibilities now, what will a kid do to that?

          • Danielle

            This absolutely terrifies me.

          • Me too. Gah, it’s going to be so hard to be actually responsible for another small human 24/7/365.

  • LBH

    My husband and I have had MAJOR conversations about emotional labor lately. We have a four month old, and before he showed up, I guess I felt like I was better able to manage all the extra stuff I took on (remembering appointments, the family stuff of remembering birthdays and buying gifts/cards, being essentially the manager of our household). But then when this kiddo showed up, and I went back to work, suddenly remembering anything beyond my own stuff became crushing. There were a lot of moments (in my head at least) where I was thinking how much easier it would be if it was just me and the baby, because taking care of me, the baby, and my husband, while working full time and with a kid who is reverse cycling and doesn’t sleep, etc. was going to kill me.

    So — I made my husband read this: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0UUYL6kaNeBTDBRbkJkeUtabEk/view?usp=sharing

    And then we had conversations. Lots of conversations. We’re still having conversations — but now I don’t feel like everything is on me. We do more planning together (we plan our weekly meals and then we make a grocery list together), we’re really on sync with our budget (we are devout ynabbers), and it’s moving toward being better. There are definitely still moments where I have to say “you may not realize this, but me doing X is asking me to take on a lot of extra emotional labor” and sometimes that just is what it is but me not growing resentful about it because he isn’t acknowledging that I’m doing all his extra work is helpful. There are some things I’m better at than he is — not because men and women are inherently different at what they can be good at, as my mother keeps trying to say, but because I personally am better at some things than my husband is. Like paying bills — my husband was in charge of paying bills one month that we have been together, just one month, and our water got turned off because he forgot to pay it. Sure, I could make him get better at doing it, and remind him about things that are due, etc, but that’s one that’s easier for me to just do. Especially since he’s taken other things off my plate.

    The single best thing is that he’s taken over a lot of my errands — dropping off packages, running to the bank, etc. that I sometimes find it hard to do with a baby in the car. That makes my life feel a little less overwhelming.

    • Eh

      I’m glad you had that conversation with your husband. There were days when my daughter was a newborn where I was just happy that both of us were alive and she was fed (most of the time I was fed too). We have a 6 month old and I had a pretty difficult pregnancy (I was sick pretty much the whole time). While I was pregnant my husband took over making a grocery list because I could not think about food without feeling sick (it’s a shared task now). My husband works evenings so he’s usually not home to cook so we came up with a few meals I could make without feeling sick (that was hard because smelling food cook made me sick – our compromise was that we cooked large batches in the slow cooker to reduce the number of days the house smelled like food), and on one of my husband’s days off he cooked. He continued to cook one meal a week while I was home on Mat leave and now that he’s on parental leave I cook one meal a week and he cooks the other nights.

      My husband has a list of bills he pays but they are mostly taken directly out of his account or credit card because he has forgotten a few times where they weren’t automatic. Before we moved in together he had never paid bills other than his cell phone and rent so I think it’s important that he understand what it takes to manage household finances (even if that means autopayments) and in case something happens to the person paying the bill we have a document will all of the account information so the other can access it.

    • Lizzie

      This metafilter PDF is amazing! THANK YOU for sharing. I’m nodding my head so hard as I read along.

    • electricdust

      This is a fantastic piece of work. Thank you so much for putting it together.

  • LucyPirates

    Google Calendar.
    I watched a friend use this expertly with her partner for many years and tucked it away for future times. This is now in every day use and is so invaluable. It can take a few weeks of ‘Check the calendar’ x 10,000,000 but in the end it is very worth the pain.

    Also, we are a team and all of the team needs to share the doing AND the thinking.

    • eating words

      Yes to the Google Calendar. It helps a ton. Although I still find myself fielding questions and saying “It’s on the Google Calendar” a lot.

      • LucyPirates

        Yeah, there was a day where ‘it’s on Google calendar darling sweetpea*’ became ‘maybe you should check the !@£$%^&! GOOGLE CALENDAR – I THINK it COULD BE ON THERE.’
        (*darling sweetpea not actually used.)

        • Kayla

          Lately, I have been trying to master a single facial expression that coveys, “I cannot believe you are asking me where we keep batteries/if we have plans Friday/whether we have milk in the house. That is information you should know or be able to ascertain.”

          I’m getting pretty close.

          • LucyPirates

            I now no longer use the shouty sarcasm but have progressed to smiling whilst pointedly raising eyebrows.

          • another lady

            *at the store together*
            husband: do we need milk?
            me: I don’t know… did YOU check the fridge?
            hubs: nope… did YOU?
            me: nope… guess we should get some just in case!
            (I’m am not the keeper of the fridge inventory!)

          • Jessica

            PREACH!

          • another lady

            lol – sometimes it’s about training to think differently!

          • AP

            THIS TIMES A MILLION.

          • Kara E

            I am the keeper of the inventory since I’m the primary cook (schedule reasons). It’s on a giant post-it note. Hubby suggested a spreadsheet. Didn’t happen AND I lost my post-it note and have to do it over again. He’s going to have to help me recreate the stupid thing.

          • CW

            The Easter Island head statue has become my text/email expression for that. Stone-faced, not laughing.

          • AGCourtney

            Sameeeeee. The payoff is 100% worth it.

    • laddibugg

      It took me a while to realize that we can’t ‘share’ our whole calendar–it works better if we just share what we need the other person to know.

      • Abe

        Same! We like having our own calendars but are continuously “inviting” the other to events, reminders, etc. Such a lifesaver (especially with my terrible memory!).

        • eating words

          We each have our own calendar PLUS a shared calendar. Anything that the other should know about (theater tickets, vet appointments, birthdays) goes on the shared calendar. It was easier for us than sending invites to a million events.

          • Abe

            Great plan! I personally like the extra reminder of getting an email when something new has been added, and then the other “accepting” aka. acknowledging it exists. (Although, I’m also coming to the realization that we do this because my fiancé puts in quite a bit of emotional labor to manage my absent-mindedness… not great on my part.)

            But yeah, your way with the shared cal is definitely more efficient!

        • Yes! We do this, we each share our calendars together, but he doesn’t really look at mine (unless he really needs to know where I am). So when I’m adding an event that is relevant to both parties, I am sure to invite him as a guest. He does the same for me (we each manage our own family events/gifts/etc). This has worked out quite well.

      • Jessica

        One week I had put “just take a flipping class” to get my butt to the gym for a fitness class. Husband asked “what’s a “Flipping Class?” thinking it was some sort of gymnastics thing.

        Only couple-relevant things go on the calendar now.

    • SO Many people suggested this to me when I started talking about this post, and I get why it works for everyone who has a partner who actually uses his phone for anything other than Buddhist meditations and listening to music. My husband barely uses his phone as a phone, let alone as a calendar. He checks his email like… twice a month. It totally wouldn’t have worked for us, but just talking about it did.

      • Eenie

        Paper calendar! On the fridge/common place. We had a family calendar hung up for years, and it was paper. We tried to get it electronic, but my mom still prints it out and posts it. Granted, she manages the calendar, but my dad can look at it to see I’m visiting in two weekends and the grandkids are coming the following one.

        • another lady

          we had this for years growing up! There was a huge calendar on the kitchen wall where all of the family events were listed. It was super helpful as teens when we were all in different events and couldn’t drive ourselves/didn’t have enough cars. If it wasn’t on the calendar, it wasn’t happening! My sister does a simplified version on a weekly basis for her family and has these dry-erase crayons that can write on the fridge. They wrote the days of the week in sharpie, and use the dry-erase crayons for big nightly events, appointments, reminders, and meal planning. It’s super helpful to them.
          Ex:
          Sunday: church: family get together at grandma’s
          Monday: girl scouts: dinner out
          Tuesday: happy hour: dinner on your own!
          Wednesday: sloppy joes: Sarah doctor appointment 1pm

          • Eenie

            Exactly what we used it for. Most of it now is for my mom since she doesn’t have a full time job, but when we were kids it was to let everyone know who was where and when, including the cars and parents! My parents coached/volunteered a lot.

            The big visits get put on the calendar as well now that us kids are flung across the country.

          • Lisa

            My mom always had a day planner with all of our activities on it as kids, and that’s how we knew what was going on in the family. She jokes now that she doesn’t have to manage our schedules anymore that she was able to downsize to a more efficient model.

        • AP

          I grew up with this, too. The free calendar from the local bank! My mom still keeps it on her fridge. We always knew growing up to check the calendar.

          • Les

            Us too! Some cheapo calendar sits on the kitchen desk, covered in everyone’s handwriting. It’s still there :)

        • Kara E

          We’re working on introducing the paper calendar. We keep trying things electronically, but it just doesn’t work as well, ever (and neither of us can access google at work). One of these days, we need to plan a budget meeting too.

      • LucyPirates

        Maybe a physical diary easily accessible would help? It was more that the one partner doesn’t have to use their brain space to remember everything, when that brain space could be better used for Harry Potter facts or remembering things you like about them instead of how annoying it is that they are too lazy to check the dates.

        • Hmm. I wasn’t annoyed by him (I rarely am, he’s a wonderful person). I just feel strongly that both people in a relationship can handle remembering everything. That’s why we talked about it – talking is our thing, instead of calendars on our phones or fridges.

          • LucyPirates

            Sorry, to be clear – I meant I personally found it annoying/irritating when my fiance started to slip into the whole, you’ll just remember for both of us stereotype. We do talk about everything else regularly, but I just refuse to take the place of his mother when he can easily check a calendar!

      • Amy March

        This fascinates me! How does he communicate with people? Snail mail for everything? How does he keep track of his own appointments? Are you secretly married to that guy in the grocery store who is writing out a physical check in the under-10-items line? It’s amazing how quickly technology changes what seems normal.

        • He talks to people in person mostly. He uses his phone for family, just doesn’t have it on Jim most of the time. He doesn’t have many appointments.

          I’m totally feeling trolled, so I’ll dip out of this thread.

          • Amy March

            I didn’t mean to make you feel trolled at all! I was genuinely intrigued since I really can’t function without my phone. Sorry!

          • JLS1012

            I was wondering the same thing as Amy! To me, what I find curious is why your partner is so reticent to using technology when clearly, tech could be a useful tool to avoid this issue. I agree, everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to tech, but if I knew it bothered my partner that I had trouble coordinating events, damn sure I would download Google calendars, even if I didn’t love it.

            Ultimately, the role of tech in our lives is such a different conversation than the point of this article, which was fascinating, but I don’t think it’s “trolling” to be intrigued by how someone lives that is far different than the way so many people do. I am a longtime lurker on this site, but sometimes feel there is oversensitivity that slams discussions shut before they start. That said, I definitely think the conversation about emotional labor is valid, and I’m definitely picking up tips from this article and comments.

          • lady brett

            the thing is, it’s not a useful tool unless it *works for you*, which is why the conversation is the important part. if “i care that you don’t bother knowing when things are” is the problem, then find whatever solution works and it’s solved. it sounds like, in stephanie’s case, the solution was basically “remember harder” – in my case it is *write it down* (seriously, my work has a shared google calendar, and i transcribe that fucker, because using google calendar means i just don’t make it to things). tech adds another tool to the list, but it isn’t actually a solution on its own.

          • Sarah McClelland

            Right! And the paper thing works less well for my hubs, but the digital thing works less well for me, but we both just try to reference both when needed!

          • Violet

            It’s definitely useful for people who already use technology that way! I don’t use a smart phone (and I REALLY don’t want to be getting email reminders from my husband to do chores when I do log onto my email; I’d personally just hate that). So if my partner asked me to take on a new task AND learn how to do it electronically with a new gadget, I’d probably cry. But if my partner said, “Hey, this is important, can you figure it out?” I would, in my own, non-electronic way.

          • Marcela

            Don’t feel trolled! My husband is similar to yours and it confuses so many people. I think that we’ve become so dependent on technology/used to it being a big part of people’s lives that when you find someone who doesn’t buy into it, it’s strange.
            My husband refuses to put email on his phone and doesn’t believe in using a calendar. We’ve tried talking and I’ve even created a big calendar that I would update in our kitchen. None of it works.
            Drives me batty.

        • lady brett

          this is absolutely me. i have a paper calendar for work at work and a paper calendar for home at home. i talk to people when i am around them, and not often when i am not. and i did just send a 6-page snail mail letter to my best friend (who i haven’t spoken to in months because we live far apart with vastly different schedules). i do use the internet for social stuff (obviously) and work, but i don’t particularly like technology following me about and interrupting things.

      • Bryan tends to use his phone the same way (music, ebooks, that’s about it), so a paper calendar and a magnetic pad on the fridge for a grocery list have been life savers for a lot of the EL things he’s bad about (we’re working on it). Because there are two things he would do that drove me nuts, the “oh I’m going to a X on this day” and “we need to get x at the store” with we = expect me to remember and follow through. So now the answer is “write it down” and there are multiple pens in the kitchen (where this stuff tends to come up) so he can do so. And if he doesn’t, oh well!

    • Yup, this is how we roll. Any event involving both of us goes in the calendar. We are in the middle of wedding planning and everything is shared google spreadsheets/doc and alerts set up in Trello. It’s been more of a learning curve for me than for him, he’s the one that’s been suggesting it because he’s been scheduling everything like that for himself for a while. Now we use it for chores, events, tasks – basically everything. It’s the greatest.

    • Sarah McClelland

      Yup. The combination of iCal plus paper has saved me more than once.

  • Rowany

    Planning relaxes me. My husband knows when I’m stressed out when I start planning our next vacation. He however, does not take to it. What works for us is to just recognize that emotional labour is work as well. Therefore, he does at least 75% of the cooking and housework and thanks me for making appointments and calls just as I think him for a delicious meal. He’s definitely aware of our shared schedule though.

    • R

      I think we are more like this as well – sharing tasks, both physical (chores) and emotional, usually without issue just based on what works well for us – and it tends to be pretty even, I think. With regard to planning vacations, he’ll usually find the flight deal, book the flight, take care of the hotel, and then I’ll make restaurant reservations, book tours, etc. Other chores get similarly split – he makes dinner, I do the dishes. He’s taken care of booking movers, changing utilities, etc each time we’ve moved, and set up our cleaning service. We both take care of our social calendar, largely bc we still sort of have “his friends” and “my friends” and then people I’d consider “joint friends” – he’s often in charge of stuff with “his friends” – whether it be setting up the plan, making sure I know the plan, ordering tickets if it’s an event, etc. We were both very involved in wedding planning as well – we met all of the vendors together, and he set up some appointments, and I set up others, we both researched venues and vendors, etc.

  • Nameless Wonders

    Great article. I hadn’t read about this concept of emotional labor before and I really see how it affects my interpersonal relationships. No matter how well intended or what kind of strong women role models the men in my life have had, there still lies the assumption that I will do these things because I’m better/faster at that. Because I was raised with that expectation, not just trained. I think women in general are raised to meet expectations and not just achieve specific results, if that makes sense.

    But there’s still this awful balance between “I should let them see what it means to sink or swim” by not helping pay a bill that isn’t mine and “Now it has gone to collections because it wasn’t dealt with and it’s affecting both of our credit.” I would love to step back and start to split the cost of emotional labor, but the truth is that I will still worry.

    • another lady

      I will still worry, too. But, there are just certain things that I have decided that I am not going to do… I put my ‘foot down’ and tell them I’m not doing it! He is a functioning adult that can figure out how to do certain things! I have taken over a lot of the financials of our relationship, because I am better at that skill than my husband and I am not willing to have bills go unpaid. But, other household chores, I just refuse to do for a while and tell him that he can do it if it needs to get done (this works super well when you are pregnant!). I also got sick of the dinner game, and a few times when he asked, ‘what’s for dinner?’, I said, ‘I don’t know… what are YOU making for dinner?’ then, I sat down and watched tv! Learned this trick from an older women I used to work with, and it worked like a charm! We are currently having a laundry standoff… ‘I don’t have any clean underwear.’ ‘hmm… you should do some laundry! then, put the rest of your dirty underwear in the basket to be washed next time I do some.’

      • Nameless Wonders

        I need to have a “you need to stop assuming I’ll make dinner” discussion. Picking specific days has never worked out well for us and it’s frustrating to have to resort to my fall-back food while I wait for him to cook/not cook and then I have no lunch for tomorrow.

    • We share all of our finances (I realize that’s a different conversation), but I also decided early into this that I wouldn’t let something important NOT happen for the sake of not having to do it. I would still be worrying about it, even if I wasn’t talking about it.

  • Vilmos Kovacs

    I read this and recognized myself in the husband. And I’m ok with that.

    • Nameless Wonders

      Is your partner okay with that?

      • Vilmos Kovacs

        Yes, he is. I sent this to him and said, I’m totally that guy. He thought it was funny and reminded me he is going to a happy hour this Friday night after work. I know he had told me before, but I had forgot. I often don’t retain that information because I know there is no way I am leaving work before 8 pm/9 pm and it doesn’t impact me in any way, shape or form. He will still beat me home. And he understands that. I do more workforce labor and I’m pregnant. He keeps the house and manages our logistics. I’m the primary contact with my family and he is the primary contact with his. The single best thing I did for ensuring an egalitarian marriage was putting myself in a position to not only be financially independent but to dramatically out earn most potential partners. Guys who couldn’t handle that weeded themselves out. And then within the relationship, once I found my guy, I had (and continue to have) very, very strong bargaining power in division of labor and decision making because I make 3/4 of the income.

        • Nameless Wonders

          It sounds like you have a division of emotional labor that works well for both of you!

          • Vilmos Kovacs

            Thanks! It takes lots of talking and checking in, but I think we are both happy. And I’m thrilled it didn’t go the default gender line. As Beyonce says, strong enough to bear the children and get back to business.

        • Arie

          Power dynamics are really different across relationships. I get that. To me it would be a huge a red flag to have ‘bargaining power’ in a relationship be dependent on income. As a human being in a partnership with another human being, I expect to have ‘bargaining power’ because I’ve entered into an agreement to care about the needs of another person, and I expect that in return. It does sound like you have a system that works for you – I just think it’s worth thinking about what would happen if for some reason your income unexpectedly dropped.

          • Vilmos Kovacs

            If my income suddenly dropped, the demands on my time would drop similarly (barring an accident or illness, but we have supplemental disability insurance to cover that). I could and should do a lot more emotional and household labor. I completely understand that and accept that. Again, barring illness or an accident, I anticipate scaling back in about five to ten years. At that point my husband and I would likely have more equal incomes and more equal demands on our time. Our dynamic would definitely shift. But the default was never and will never be me doing the bulk of the work because I am the woman. The person with the most bandwith will do most of the work. Even now, I pick up slack when things are hectic for my husband – by any standard outside of finance, medicine and law, he has a demanding job. But that involves more outsourcing (think BlueApron meals and Washio doing our laundry). So we both know it isn’t sustainable, but we make it work in short bursts, when he is maxed out. I think a lot of hetero couples hope to be egalitarian, but end up being really heteronormative because it is “practical” or it “just makes sense.” The classic example is the economics of childcare. People have asked me if my income will justify the expense of daycare. No one has asked my husband that. (Except me a few years ago, when we started thinking kids. He managed to get himself promotions and raises real fast after that conversation). I have friends and family who scaled back or pushed pause on their working livings because their after tax salary would have just covered daycare. Then once the scaling back happens, they picked up more domestic and emotional labor. They were right, it made sense for them economically. They made the decision together. I just knew from a young age, I would be very unhappy making that decision out of economic necessity. I have been privileged enough to be able to make choices that means I won’t have to do that.

          • Arie

            I’m with you–our approach is totally based on who has the most bandwidth as well, and I think that’s a good way to put it. I make slightly less $ than my partner but it takes me longer to do it (commute!), and his more flexible schedule means he’s picking up a lot of slack at home. The way we talk about it is very much based on who has the time and energy to do what.

          • Vilmos Kovacs

            That is awesome! I’m glad you found that balance naturally. I hope that becomes more and more common.

          • So…it sounds like it’s not an income-based bargaining power, but a time-based bargaining power…which is probably the way to do it, and a preferable phrasing :) Those who have the free time, end up doing slightly more of the labor.

          • Vilmos Kovacs

            No, it is income based and wealth based. And I don’t think phrasing it differently is helpful at all. I think it is important to communicate that money matters in relationships. I am very frank about this with younger women who approach me for career advice. I think a lot of women are conditioned to think about work/life balance in a way that men are not. I think that leads them to pursue less lucrative careers. And that then perpetuates the cycle of women being responsible for more unpaid emotional and domestic labor. My husband would LOVE to work as much as I work. He adores his job and is super ambitious. But because my job pays a lot more, he makes sure his schedule is flexible enough to meet the at-home demands. If I had a job that was less remunerative, our division of labor would be different. For example, when our baby is born, I am not taking unpaid leave. He is taking unpaid leave. And these are 100% because I make more money than him. He may lose out on a big opportunity at work because of it, depending on the timing of when our baby is born. But we agreed before we started trying that it was valuable to have our baby reach 6 months before he or she started daycare. I get 16 weeks leave, which I will take. He gets a month, which he will take. And then he will take another month unpaid. I could take 20 weeks, 16 paid, 4 unpaid but that would cost us $16,000, after taxes. If he takes 4 weeks unpaid that is $5,000, after taxes. That decision is all about income. We may negotiate between us so that he can be there for this big project, but it is not the default position that I will conform the leaves to fit his needs. Most likely, he will negotiate with his boss to get more paid leave so he can start his a bit later and extend it a bit longer. If I made less than him, he would not have to have that conversation.

          • Right, sure, making unpaid maternity leave decisions makes sense to incorporate who makes what. Just as determining who might be the stay-at-home parent might incorporate who makes more/less (although, it also might not be entirely determined by who makes more, there are other factors to consider…like levels of misery).

            But sometimes people pursue careers that are highly demanding of their time, and not necessarily the most fiscally lucrative career paths…does that mean the one who makes less is automatically responsible for more house labor? I make 80% of what my partner does, but I work in academia and am a post-doctoral researcher. If I want to make myself employable at the end of this contract (and get a better job that may or *may not* result in me making more than my partner), I need to work *hard*. So it’s not a 40 hour work week. But since I currently make less, then I should “make sure [my] schedule is flexible enough to meet the at-home demands”? This logic seems to have the reverse effect of encouraging me to pursue what I find to be a highly rewarding career. If I purposely make more time to do more of the labor because I make less, then I won’t be able to pursue a career that is as lucrative in both non-monetary and [potentially] monetary outcomes as I’d like.

            Would I make more money as a software engineer? Yes, undoubtedly. But I’d hate it. Sometimes, choosing the less financially responsible career path isn’t less ambitious. And I don’t think I should have to shoulder more of the house and emotional labor because I’m not bringing in as much money. Sometimes I have more free time, sometimes he has more free time, and the house labor is split based upon this.

          • Vilmos Kovacs

            I don’t think money correlates to ambition. I do think it realistically correlates to freedom and autonomy. I would have loved to teach, but I became a corporate lawyer instead. I valued economic freedom and autonomy more than I value having a really, really satisfying career. I can always quit and do something I enjoy. The window for making money is not very big. I think the ultimate test for me is if your career was in direct conflict with his, whose would win out? If you got a job offer somewhere AMAZING, would he relocate for your for that opportunity? My husband was offered a job with a huge rate in a state I did not want to live at an amazing company for his field. He wanted to take it, but I wouldn’t have the same opportunities there as I do on the northeast. He turned it down. If I made 80% of what he did, that would not have been the result. His next offer was also great and was in a city I could work in. He took that. I had a lot of say in that decision making process because of what I contribute to the household economics. I think it is awesome for every couple who finds a balance that works for them that ignores what each partner brings into the family’s balance sheet. I think that is naive to think that will be the default. And I think women can and should become more comfortable using the same tools men have used for generations to shape the life they want. And I think dismissing maternity leave and care taking decisions is short sighted. Those decisions frame dynamics. Who is the lead parent? Who does the child go to? Who keeps track of peds appointments? That stuff starts to stack up.

          • We moved to California 5 months ago for my career, and the rent (for a place 2/3 the sq footage) is about 40% higher, so we took a hit to our quality of life. Essentially because I didn’t spend 7 years of my life to get a PhD so I could make huge compromises about what I worked on. I’ve been discussing how we would have to move for my career since day 1 of our relationship (or maybe more like, month 2, lol). We would’ve moved to Texas for my career, and I would have supported him financially until he had a job, even though I made less. This has essentially been written into our relationship contract since the beginning.

            So, maybe making more money is what motivates some couples. But perhaps others, once they’re making above a certain threshold (or not, whatever), money isn’t as much of a bargaining chip and that works out fine, too? I know this isn’t the default, but I’m a lady with a PhD, so…I kinda knew things would have to work differently. The sacrifices I made for my PhD sort of function as their own bargaining chip (at least in my head, ha!). If I dated a man who felt that the fact that he makes more money entitles him to more say in the family decisions, it would be a deal breaker. As partners, it just seems that both parties should have approximately equal say anyways, and that personal misery/goals/income are just additional factors that are weighted differently for each couple. Both people just gotta be careful to not have their needs trampled on, which is why the discussion of EL is sorta key.

          • Vilmos Kovacs

            The way I organize it in my mind is that there is commercial labor, domestic labor and emotional labor. It all needs to get done. It is important to recognize it is all labor. But it is vital to recognize that society does not value it all equally and that there are trends on how it gets divided based on gender. Since my dating pool was society as it is now, I decided I would need to make contributions that I could point to to justify my shirking of domestic and emotional labor. I knew I couldn’t say, look, I don’t pay our rent, but you are going to be responsible for bread winning and for for all the chores. Even at 16/17, that didn’t sound fair and didn’t sound like something most people would go for. But I could say, look, I will take care of the bread winning. You take care of the laundry. PhDs/academic life is a different beast. My father-in-law is an academic and my mother-in-law was a doctor who switched to homemaking to take care of all the domestic and emotional labor. I’m sure it didn’t make sense financially (I know it didn’t – they are struggling with how they will manage retirement/if they can manage retirement). But they both really, really value his contributions to his field. I just think the money thing to acknowledge because it is really important and it is such a taboo. Women still talk about men being a “good earner” as a good characteristic in a potential partner. My very feminist best friend was telling me about the guy she just started dated and listed the fact he made a lot more money than her as a desirable trait. I love that when people marvel over the fact that he did all the Christmas shopping and wrote all the Christmas cards, his response is, “Do you know what she bills an hour? My time is much cheaper.” It is obnoxious, but so is the fact that they expect me to take care of that stuff by default because I am a woman.

  • Ooh, this is an interesting topic to me. I think I might actually though generally have a pretty good system most of the time set up with my husband. So I might brag about it a little here, since I don’t have many opportunities to brag about him, since I don’t want to be super obnoxious to my friends. Mostly because I think all of my executive functioning is taken up by grad school, so he usually is the one who reminds about cleaning/cleans the apartment when I sleep in on Saturday, reminds us about meal planning (we grocery shop together on our walk home from church on Sunday mornings), generally organizes things with his family (they already talk to each other on the phone like once a week or so, because they are close, so it would make sense that they would organize family activities!). I would say the only things I am specifically responsible for are the dog (who is my dog anyway, and also my schedule allows me to walk him much easier since I have both a shorter workday and a 10 minute versus 40 minute commute) and most of the cooking (but no kitchen cleanup). Or I guess, remembering that we really should bring something to holidays at his grandparents house is probably on me, too (but he remembers that for my side of the family) because that is easier to remember when you have been introduced to the family as an adult so you think about adult-responsibilities versus just sort of slowly getting older.

    Right now he is in the depth of 80-hour-a-week accounting busy season, and our life is totally so unorganized and our apartment is a mess (which is fine with me, admittedly), because I am starting to realize how much of it all he does. But like, my executive functioning totally sucks right now and when I was living alone, I would just forget to eat at all relatively frequently and so forth. (He’s on a business trip this week and I have to set alarms on my phone to remind me to eat).

    There was a little bit of struggling to get to this point (mostly frustration at different opinions, but like we’ve only been married for 6 months, so some of that is also just figuring out living with a person struggles, I’m sure). (I’m impressed with him figuring it all out coming from never living not at his parents, before). I’m sure it will change when we have kids in a couple of years, but, that isn’t for a couple of years at least, so we’ll figure that out when we get to it. But yeah, autistic executive function issues are probably not a generally applicable solution to emotional labor general unfairness. (Although I guess in some ways it is similar to the “just stopping doing the extra work” method listed above, just not voluntary on my part.)

    • Nameless Wonders

      I’m not autistic but I do have executive dysfunction. I’ve seen a lot of correlations with things I “forget” (or don’t notice/tune out) and my stress levels. At my parents’ home, I still consistently forget to put away dishes. In my own home, this is far less of an issue because I have control over my own clutter (way less than at my parents’ house) and I’m not visually/emotionally distracted by a stressful environment. That said, when I DO start forgetting stuff (leaving out a million water glasses around the apartment), I know that some part of me is over taxed.

      • I mean, when I was living alone, I went by the once-a-week clean up all the things that are accumulating method because that was much easier than trying to remember to notice things all the time. But now we have new routines set up where… I don’t do the dishes at all because I did them slower than my husband liked, so I gave him that job to keep him from complaining about, sometimes he does show up at the end of a week to a sink full of dirty dishes from the night before or maybe a day earlier.

        Definitely much worse at everything when I’m stressed out though.

    • aka basically I just am so much less socially capable than my husband so other than circumstances where I know the people really well (family mostly) if he wants it done capably at all, he usually has to do itit so it evens out between our families bc of this.

  • Amanda L.

    This is so timely, because I need to have a discussion about this with my husband. I don’t think he realizes how much extra stress it puts on me to be the one doing most of the emotional labor. Part of it is I enjoy planning and being in control of what we do and when, but part of it gets really frustrating.

    Since we got together seven years ago, he’s been telling me he’ll make a dentist appointment “soon” (it’s been about 10 years now since he’s gone, since I remember being horrified early in our relationship when he said it had already been two or three years). I finally caved last week and made his appointment for him, signed him up for text and email reminders, and told him when the appointment was. Today, I said, “Isn’t your appointment today?” and he COULD. NOT. REMEMBER. I get frustrated when it’s things like this – I’ve done all of the annoying parts, and just remembering his appointment is the ONE THING I’ve asked him to.

    This also came up more recently with buying a house: we started looking, and I was the one in touch with realtors, searching websites with listings, making appointments, etc. I would send them to him and run them by him, he would say it was fine, and then we would show up and freak out about prices… which he had seen in advance and approved. I finally said to him, “This is taking a lot of time and energy, I am doing all the research, and the one thing I am asking you to do is just look at things before we commit to seeing them. You cannot keep saying yes and then freaking out after. If it’s no, it’s no, but you have to tell me so I’m not wasting my time or anyone else’s anymore.” I think he FINALLY got that, at least, so hopefully he’ll understand more about other things that take time and energy that he doesn’t even realize I’m handling because it’s just been established that I’ll take care of it.

    (All of that being said, he’s wonderful in so many other ways, just not when it comes to this stuff!)

    • Nameless Wonders

      I run into this problem a lot too, where the other party will not schedule an important thing, but if I do it, they don’t remember. Even if THEY do it, they don’t remember. They don’t have a system to remind themselves that works because they’ve never needed one. Helping them make a system (a bulletin board, white board, mindfully start using phone calendar etc.) is the best I can figure out how to do, to relieve the emotional burden on me and help them actually keep appointments. It’s not that they don’t care, they just don’t know how to keep track.

    • Magi

      Wow YES to the joint shopping thing! We recently bought a house too, and I definitely scheduled more than one showing where he’d seen the listing in advance AND it was within our previously agreed-upon budget, but then he acted all shocked by the price when it came up. I ended up doing much the same as you; “we’re wasting our time and everyone else’s, you’ve really got to look these over carefully before I set it up”. (In this case, I was unemployed at the time so that’s why I took on the bulk of the real estate stuff.)

      • Amanda L.

        We both work full time, but I enjoy looking at the listings and to be honest, I am too much of a planner to NOT be the one looking at listings. But it was incredibly frustrating that he wouldn’t really look before agreeing and then get there and go, “These are all expensive!” To which I was like, yes, of course, but that is why I showed this to you before we decided to look. The thing that was most frustrating about it was that we saw an amazing place that *I* thought was in our budget, since I showed it to him and he said we could look at it, and I LOVED it, and then he said after we saw it that it was too much.

    • Jessica

      That sounds incredibly frustrating. House shopping is a fraught time anyway–it’s why they make so many shows about it on HGTV or whatever. Insta-drama.

      Piggybacking on the “make a damn appointment” thing: Husband, Best Friend and I made a plan to go get our eye exams this past January. Husband hadn’t had his eyes checked in 4 years and had lost his glasses recently. Best Friend had not had her eyes checked in 10+ years and had anxiety about going for a variety of reasons. We all picked a day and a 2-hour time to go to the mall lenscrafters and get it done.

      Husband ended up having to work, which is fine. I spent the day with Best Friend at the mall. I asked Husband to reschedule the appointment because he needs new glasses, and kind of needs them to drive. I’ve reminded him again. And again. And now my preferred cheap glasses place is having a BOGO sale and I would like to order a new pair for myself and a pair for him. So I reminded him again. And now he’s not sure if he’ll be able to make an appointment in time. This frustrates me.

      • Caitlyn

        I feel like this is something that has been touched on, but not fully addressed. SO many of these types of issues/scenarios end up involving significant funds either saved or spent. And if we choose to “opt out” (by not rescheduling the appointment for him) – then WE end up losing too. If we share funds, then it’s not just HIM that ends up paying. We do. And that makes me crazy. I’m sorry that you’re experiencing this. I think you should just get two pairs of glasses for yourself and try your best to just let him deal with his own glasses. *(said knowing how insanely difficult that will be)

        • Jessica

          That is probably what I’ll end up doing, but I’m going to wait until the last day of the sale. And yes, the cost thing is a big part of carrying emotional labor.

        • Emily

          “And if we choose to “opt out” (by not rescheduling the appointment for him) – then WE end up losing too.”

          Yes. This is the double bind of this issue! Well said!

  • TeaforTwo

    Yesssss.

    In a recent thread here, someone mentioned their therapist saying that every couple has one Keeper of the List, and that Keeper is usually, in hetero relationships, the lady. In my relationship, it is definitely me.

    That’s been turning over in my head, because while I do sometimes resent being the one to assign tasks to my husband, there really does need to be a list. I hate being the only one to think about dinner, but I also hate going to the grocery store after work when it’s crowded and I’m tired, and coming home to discover that he ALSO went to the store and is already cooking. Or that we BOTH remembered to pick up the giantest tub of laundry detergent and now have detergent for a decade etc. etc.

    Technology has helped in some ways: we have a shared Google calendar, and so now when he texts me three times for directions to a place we agreed to meet after work, I can just remind him that his phone will beep when it’s time for him to leave work and then give him directions from there. But he’s resistant to any kind of organizational tool (he certainly doesn’t use them for himself) so the shared grocery list will be our next frontier.

    • Nameless Wonders

      Kind of been in this situation too, but we started shopping together. We’re aiming for one big shopping trip on the weekend with some thoughts of dinner in mind (I’m not a fan of meal planning, it stresses me out) rather than a million small ones throughout the week. This way we both know what we have and what we don’t.

      • TeaforTwo

        That would help with some of it, but not all. Definitely it’s often easier and more fun to get various chores done together (especially when it’s “we’ll drop off these big heavy things at the place, and then…brunch date!”), but it won’t work with everything, and it wouldn’t work for us for long.

        For me, the point of splitting the list isn’t just to make sure we’re putting in equally…it’s have less of the list to manage! So if we just do a bunch of one-person jobs together, sometimes that’s great because it’s time together, and sometimes it stinks because I just want days when I come home tired and the shopping is already done and I didn’t do it.

        • Keeks

          Yesss! That’s why we did the vertical integration of tasks & chores – divide and conquer. I like efficiency. :)

      • Caitlin

        This is what we do! In addition, our grocery store has wine/cheese sampling nights, where you pay a few dollars to sample them. We’ve aligned our shopping night to match and it’s actually become one of our favorite parts of the week, because it’s a chance to catch up with no distractions while enjoying food and alcohol together for cheap (and prepared by someone else). I know not every store has this, but if one by you does, I highly recommend it.

    • laddibugg

      I’m definitely the keeper of the list, but I think that even if I was in a same sex relationship I’d still be the keeper. I seem to be attracted to non keepers–I can’t imagine that changing if my sexuality was different.

    • JLily

      So my partner and I DEFINITELY have a long way to go as far as the division of labor–emotional and physical–however, I think we have the cooking situation down. This may be helpful to some of you: Basically, I grocery shop on Sunday for two meals and cook/clean up on Monday and Tuesday nights. SO has Wednesday and Thursday nights, and he prefers to go to the grocery store on the way home. We also always make enough for lunches the next day, and whoever cooks packs those up. Friday through Sunday we might either go out to dinner, I’ll make something in the crockpot, or he will BBQ.

      This works for both of us because we both work during the day, and it is SO NICE to know that you have no obligations after work on those days that the other person is cooking. It took some work to get to this point, since SO was not used to cooking very much. I held my ground though, and basically let him know that whatever he made was fine (as long as it..you know..had some nutritional value). He started verrry basic, but now he makes some pretty delicious stuff!

      The wedding planning on the other hand–that is all on me. I haven’t figured out how to apply this same idea to the wedding or to other areas of our relationship.

      • Lisa

        My husband was actually pretty awesome about wedding planning, but as someone who had never planned an event before and who hadn’t been coached his whole life on what weddings need, he had no idea where to start (besides traditional princess wedding). I coached him on what needed to be done, and he ended up taking over most of the vendor communications because he was at home and I was working full-time.

        Maybe the way you look at dinners could also apply to the planning. You both sit down and look at the list of everything that needs to happen, and then you can divide it up by who cares about what or who needs what. I don’t know magically know more because I’m a woman; I usually research things and then present a couple of options so we can make a joint decision. I asked him to do the same thing with many of “his” tasks as I would with mine. For example, he did all of the research on purchasing suits vs. renting tuxes and then made a decision on a few styles he liked. From there, we made a decision together about how we wanted the wedding to look. We would come up with deadlines and hold one another accountable to them. Egalitarian wedding planning is totally a thing and can work. Best of luck!

      • Amy March

        I love this grocery/dinner plan! I find it so much easier to think of it in Sun-Wed and Thurs-Sat terms.

      • Arie

        We do this too, though slightly differently. I cook Monday-Wednesday-Thursday. I really like cooking and I think it’s fun to do after work, so I don’t want to split it up more than that, but I find that one day off is enough to keep it fun and less of a chore. We also plan our meals so that the most difficult/time consuming are on Sunday/Monday and then slide through the rest of the week on easier meals.

      • Yeahhhh. The planning’s a bit trickier. I’m still generally the keeper of the list, but I delegate certain tasks to him (i.e., DJ, baker, etc.)…but then I also need to give a deadline for my own sanity. It is not great.

    • AP

      The Anylist app was a game changer for us!! We have a Master Grocery List that we both add to as we notice we’re running low, then whoever goes to the store has the list, AND it notifies the other person that the list has been modified. I also love that we can split up at the store and both have the list, and both see when the other has crossed something off. We have a shared To Do list as well.

      • Alex Bacon

        Wunderlist has done the same for us. It’s been magical.

  • Keeks

    We’ve been working on emotional labor A LOT lately. I read the metafilter thread/google doc that’s been going around, cried about it & catastrophized for a few days (dumb), and then sent it to my husband. We had a really good discussion and it’s helped me make some changes. We already had a pretty good division of labor going on, we have a shared calendar, and we manage our own families, but I am still definitely the CEO of our day-to-day life.

    I had this realization that if I am the self-declared CEO of the house, then I am going to run the house like a business. A lot of people have talked about splitting chores and duties with their partners – horizontal integration – but in our house it seems to work better if we are vertically integrated. What that means is that my husband is the CLO (Chief Laundry Officer) and responsible for making sure we always have clean clothes. If that means he feels like the laundry factory should be open every day, that’s fine. But he seems to believe in just-in-time production, so laundry gets done on a need-to-wear basis. I don’t care how he gets it done, as long as I don’t run out of inventory (i.e., clean underwear). I am the CFO, Chief Food Officer, so I handle meal planning, shopping, cooking, and dishes. That’s a lot of work in addition to my CEO role, so he’s the CBO (Chief Bathroom Officer), the other CFO (Chief Financial Officer), etc.

    There are a lot of reasons why it works for us, and maybe not for others – I do better with the daily repetition due to my personality & regular schedule, he is better at doing things on his own time due to his work schedule. We also both lived alone for a looong time, so I know he can do the things I do, and vice versa. It’s hard to be a SME if you aren’t already a generalist, ya know?

    Also I am 100% sorry not sorry for all the business metaphors.

    • Kayla

      “I read the metafilter thread/google doc that’s been going around, cried about it & catastrophized for a few days (dumb)”

      Realizing the extent to which the world undervalues your time and effort just because you’re a woman is something worth crying about. There’s nothing dumb about that.

      • Alanna Cartier

        I catastrophied about it too, and made the fiancee read it right away. It has been one of the best things to ever happen to our relationship.

      • Keeks

        I could have saved myself a lot of the anxiety by just sending it to my husband and asking for what I needed instead of spending a weekend thinking we were doomed and keeping it to myself! I mean, still worth it to cry about how the wider world works though.

        • Nameless Wonders

          Frankly, I don’t know how to send this without it seeming like an attack on him personally. I mean, it definitely hits some things about our relationship spot on, but I don’t want to be like “see, it IS all your fault!” And that is yet another issue that the document even mentions…

          • Marcela

            Exact reason why I didn’t share with my husband, even though I really wanted to.

          • Ashlah

            Eh, I think you can present it as, “Hey, this is a pattern I’ve noticed in our relationship that I would like for us to change” as opposed to, “You are doing things wrong.” But it’s definitely a “know your spouse” scenario.

          • Mary Jo TC

            Or even, to distance it yet further, “this is a pattern that happens in a lot of hetero relationships, let’s make sure it doesn’t happen with ours.” But I also haven’t had the guts/energy to bring this up with my own husband yet either, so who am I to talk. But I think that will be my approach. Also, I was thinking of making a list of all the ’emotional labor” that each of us do in our relationship so I can make a point of giving him credit for things and saying positive stuff. For example, the stuff on the metathread about emotional labor in sex was very foreign to me because my awesome husband has never made me responsible for his feelings about his performance during sex the way some men do, and I thank god for that.

          • AP

            Same.

          • Magi

            It was hard for me to figure out, too; I didn’t want to seem like I was accusing or attacking. BUT – so much of the things mentioned hit our relationship spot on, too. I just told him it was a huge discussion of the concept of emotional labor and that it was really, really important to me that he take a look at it. I did prep him for the possibility of it being uncomfortable, “Please know that if you see us reflected in there, this isn’t an attack on you. It’s a discussion that I really want you to be a part of.” I don’t think he has read the whole thing yet, but I’m giving him plenty of time and space to get through it because it IS really important to me. I’m going to check in with him and see if he’s read further.

          • Keeks

            When I sent it to him, I specifically mentioned that the first section he should read was about managing partners’ reactions to the thread so that he could understand that being close-minded about it was self-defeating. And yeah that WAS EL, and I still had to perform some EL during our discussion, like pointing out all the things he did well.

            I also told him I was really scared about how he would react, and I think being vulnerable about that made him realize how important it was to me? I know every person & relationship is different, so that might not work for you guys. I hope you can find a way to discuss it since it resonated with you, though!

          • Nameless Wonders

            I sent an email. With depression in the mix (for both of us), it’s not an easy conversation to have, but I think this opened the door for us to talk about it more. And just having a kind of language framework to use (“emotional labor”) is SO helpful.

        • WifeyJ

          So, I debated this, but my hubs really limits his non-work time spent on email (basically zero), and he’s not likely to read it at work, so I’m not sure what to do in terms of sharing the thread itself. And yes, I realize that’s an element of me doing the EL too, but I also don’t know whether I’m ready to email it to him and then get no response. That would hurt…

          • Print it off?
            Summarize it at dinner and say it is very important to you that he read it?
            Set a designated time to discuss it? Yeah, this is EL, but if you’re lucky he’ll notice the irony?

    • LOVE the business metaphors.

      I want to vertically integrate when my partner and I move in together. My parents did this and it worked for them. I like that it leads to less keeping score.

      The only point that sticks for me (which I discuss in detail in a thread down stream) is the Chief Tidying Officer. I don’t mind divvying up other duties, but tidying up after another grown human on an uber repetitive basis will wear me down and turn me into a resentful prune of a human. My boyfriend is pretty messy/absentminded on the domestic front. Facilitating conversations and new habit formation (#EL) for the sake of long term sanity… wish me luck!

    • mcmullek

      Link for the thread? I haven’t seen it and am now intrigued…thanks!

    • Amie Melnychuk

      Can you link up the thread? I am curious.

  • Mrrpaderp

    I love this article and I hope that APW continues to discuss this issue. We talk about a lot of relationship issues here, generally, but the emotional labor piece is so very relevant to wedding planning, too. Women get stuck with the vast majority of wedding-related duties, from lining up vendors to sending out thank you notes.

    For a lot of couples, wedding planning might be the first time they’ll experience a serious imbalance in the burden of emotional labor. And those issues only get worse as you add in pets, kids, ailing relatives, and other big time sucks that require more immediate attention and carry more serious consequences. It’s one thing for relatives to get annoyed that they didn’t get a thank you note, it’s quite another for mom to miss her chemo treatment because no one remembered to take her. It’s important to start these conversations early and not just grin and bear it because it seems silly to create conflict over something “small.” I really look forward to hearing about how those conversations evolved for others.

    • savannnah

      I agree. I’m in the very beginnings of weeding planing and I’ve had to be very direct with my fiance about his constant jokes around not wanting to be part of the planning. The most recent conversation went like this: Him: “oh boy, not another list to look at” Me: side-eye Him: “I’m joking, you know I’m joking” Me: No, you’re not joking, your’re bringing in a narrative into our relationship that is sexist and old and boring, and its not who you are and its disappointing”. Continuous conversations are the key here but even then I find myself asking, would he ever read something about emotional labor online and think about it for a few days before coming to me to discuss? Its emotional labor to even have these conversations.

      • Jess

        “No, you’re not joking, your’re bringing in a narrative into our relationship that is sexist and old and boring, and its not who you are and its disappointing”

        Aaaand this phrase is wonderful and I’m committing it to memory.

        “It’s old and boring, it’s not who you are and it’s disappointing.” So. Good.

        • This is perfection.

      • LucyPirates

        Yes, to this.
        Even with a forward thinking, modern boy, it really grates when ‘jokes’ are made which fall into stereotypes. As in, I know for a fact we are making decisions all 50/50 for the wedding and yet still the occasional ‘put upon fiance attitude’ – it really offends me, definitely borrowing that line!

        • savannnah

          Yes. I cannot tell if its because of the circles I grew up in or what but fiance and his friends deem anything a ‘joke’ to be practically untouchable in terms of rebuke, which really grates on me. If its a ‘joke’ its not serious, its not for real and its not what ‘anyone actually thinks’. But jokes are funny because they tap into a common and well known narrative and retelling those jokes reinforces that narrative-that been a sticky point with my fiance and, more complicated, my objections to these jokes plays further into a nagging no chill wife narrative. tres difficile.

          • LucyPirates

            I know – and I hate saying ‘don’t make me into a nagging fiancee/wife because that is NOT what I signed up for.’ I just don’t think he appreciates how offensive and genuinely hurt I am at his ‘joke’ because I was under the impression we were all onboard the Decision Making Train together and now I feel a little blind sided and ridiculed, even if I know he doesn’t truly mean it. Although as Eenie said above, I then worry that that is what he really thinks. le sigh

          • Eenie

            YES. Not related to joking, but one week he got really upset and blew up and said he feels like I wasn’t doing anything to help our around the house. And I told him in the future he needs to ask me to do stuff, just like I ask him to do stuff. It’s not nagging, it’s being a good partner. He’s not allowed to silently brood about how he’s doing so much stuff for the house when he hasn’t communicated his feelings to me and asked me to pick up the slack.

          • Jessica

            There was a period of time where Husband would crack jokes about me not asking him properly when I asked him to help clean things, and it made me super uncomfortable to ask him anything because I didn’t want to be “nagging wife.” I’ve had to face that and get over it, though, because if I don’t things just go on forever with me either doing all of it or it not getting done.

            The jokes have turned into “well it’s not that big of deal” things. Last night I asked that he clean up the dishes I asked him to do on Sunday (that he agreed to do) and his response was “well, it’s not like there’s many of them.” The amount of the dishes is not the point, it’s that you said you would do them and I would like them done before breakfast tomorrow morning. It shouldn’t be that hard to just say “yeah, I’ll do them before I go to bed.”

          • Keeks

            I think the actual point is that the dishes being done is a thing that matters to YOU, and when your husband doesn’t do them AND protests it, that it sends the message that he doesn’t care about what is important to you or makes you happy. I read this a few weeks ago and it hit the feels about dishes: http://mustbethistalltoride.com/2016/01/14/she-divorced-me-because-i-left-dishes-by-the-sink/

          • Jessica

            YES to this! My husband really is good about most things. He does take care of stuff I don’t think about (mostly having to do with shoveling/dog poop/yard work). He occasionally asks for help in those things. When he asks, I do them right away or I ask for a timeline of when he expects them to be done. I think he should do me the same courtesy.

            This article makes me want to send it to my aunt and mother, who just posted a thing about “men always being children” on Facebook. I cringed, since I had recently listed to the “Stuff Your Mom Never Told You” podcast with Meg and the line about “moms don’t want to have sex with the people their taking care of” has stuck in my head. This article is also a relevant point to that flawed way of thinking.

          • ART

            “moms don’t want to have sex with the people their taking care of” – good one. There’s actually a really relevant recent Savage Love letter that gets to this point in a rather literal way (NSFW NSFW!) and I cringed when I got to the comments thinking everyone would be jumping all over the LW for not being super accommodating to her husband, but I was pleasantly surprised by most of them actually acknowledging her labor involved in raising children and maintaining their marriage (among many other things), while it sounded like the husband wasn’t doing anything to help with either and was just being a demanding asshole.

            Had a big talk with my husband about EL the other week that actually went really well (I didn’t let myself back down from it, that was the hardest part) and I said “you know, I only have so much time and energy. Doing ALL THIS WORK subtracts from my time and energy for our sex life. And I’m NOT saying that sex is a reward from me to you for taking the freaking trash out. I need it, too! But I seriously just can’t sometimes, and that’s super unfair.” I wasn’t sure I should go there but it did kind of help him see the ah, gravity of the situation.

          • Sarah E

            Ugh, I’ve seen the “moms always care for one extra child- their husbands!” trope come up on my aunt’s facebook page, and I just shudder

          • Sarah T

            My husband has two brothers, and his mom has a standard line that she raised four boys. Under other circumstances I would kind of cringe, but my FIL hasn’t ever grown up in some ways (emotionally), so it’s more true than one would want it to be.

          • z

            Ugh, so THIS. My husband often forgets to brush his teeth, and it kills our sex life. When I am done brushing a 1-year-old’s teeth, and persuading a 4-year-old to brush her teeth, I am JUST SO NOT UP FOR reminding a grown man to brush his teeth too. Nor am I up for sex. After so many discussions, and no real progress, I just don’t know what to do here. He’s pretty great in general– wtf?

          • Jessica

            Ew.

            I would ask him to help the kids brush their teeth. Tell the 4 year old they have to brush as long as Dad does. It might work for a while?

          • z

            That would result in the 4 year old not brushing either. I’m so baffled by this because he really is very good with other similar things.

          • Emily

            Have you told him that it is affecting your sex life? That might be pretty motivating…

          • z

            Many times, sadly. I tell him every time he mentions that he would like more sex. I am starting to think he has some sort of sensory problem.

          • Yeah, I was gonna share that article about the dishes. It really hit home. It’s about agreements and respect and consideration. The dishes become a symbol of the micro-betrayal.

          • Alex Bacon

            I’ve had to deal with that with my Husband. I respond with “You made me a promise and I expect you to keep it. If I can’t expect you to keep a small promise like doing the dishes, how am I supposed to expect you to keep the bigger promises?” It’s a little passive aggressive, but it motivates him because he realizes that “yeah I’ll do it” is as much of an agreement as “I do.”

          • eating words

            @weste0023:disqus Ugh, brooding! I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “It’s not fair to be angry at me for not being telepathic.” Both people need to communicate what they need so we can figure out how to get it done.

          • Eenie

            It completely blind sided me. We had this talk early that I do not pick up on passive aggressive. If you are upset, you need to tell me if you want me to actually do something about it.

          • Danielle

            Oh god, honestly, I’m the one in our household who needs to stop brooding (or really, simmering) and communicate my feelings and needs.

          • Jess

            I don’t know if you’re into Podcasts, but there was an episode of The Hidden Brain that talked about comedy and how it is often used as a form of in-grouping by stating something that breaks a taboo as a joke.

            I think it went something along the lines of, those who find the joke funny are then part of the group, because they see some inner truth to it. Those who are offended are not part of the group, but would be brushed off because, hey, it was just a joke.

            I found it really really interesting, and also really difficult to hear.

          • eating words

            That’s really insightful.

          • savannnah

            I have not looked at that podcast but I will. When I studied anthropology in undergrad we had a class on ‘othering’ and we looked at a bunch of different forms of how people get othered. We devoted a whole month to jokes, political cartoons etc. because you need that common narrative to find a joke funny since it wont be funny if it needs to be explained. Joke tellers rely on a common understanding about a topic in that way. You can invert that idea though, by asking someone to explain to you why they think a racist or sexist joke is funny, you can often get to that inner truth, that they hold some or all of that narrative to be true or (my favorite) they did not realize the implications of that narrative on the real lives of whatever marginalized people the joke targets.

          • Jess

            Wow, that’s really interesting! It rings very true – especially in the sense of people not recognizing the targets of the joke.

      • Mary Jo TC

        This happens to us sometimes too. He makes a joke that I feel is sexist or at my expense in some way, and expects me to laugh at it and go along with it because it makes him feel good when I laugh at his jokes. And if I don’t laugh at it then I’m playing into yet another stereotype of the humorless harridan, and I’ve ruined the mood for the evening. Ugh.

        • eating words

          If it’s at ALL possible, don’t let the “you’ve ruined the mood for the evening” creep in. He did.

        • Lisa

          Oof, that’s one that gets me, too. Husband sometimes makes jokes that in the context of his family of origin would be funny, and he doesn’t realize that they are offensive to others. I usually just stare at him and say that it’s offensive/sexist/racist and not funny. He’ll try to cover it up by saying it was only a joke and that I’m being too serious, but I tell him that there are so many people in the world that think a certain way that I have a hard time knowing where the line is for him or anyone else.

          I don’t actually believe he thinks a lot of the things about which he makes these jokes, but it creeps into your mind little by little and eventually takes root. It’s also important to me that our hypothetical kids don’t hear these comments growing up and think they’re ok so I’m fighting the battle now.

          • another lady

            That *should* work over time. I have had to re-train a lot of those types of jokes out of my husband and his friends. I think it’s a small-town-America things in our situation. I use a similar line about it being offensive/not funny. Then, move on in conversation. After a few years, it has really gotten to be a lot less often that I hear a those types of comments/jokes.

          • Magi

            Seconded here; it does eventually work. Spouse and I have been together nearly ten years and have done a lot of growing out of our small-town-mentality too. No laughter, and a comment like “come on, racism is not cute” will do the trick if applied repeatedly.

        • Courtney Kelsch Ward

          My husband used to use the “I’m only joking!” line all the time, and it drove me completely crazy. I’d tell him the jokes aren’t funny, he’d tell me I just needed to lighten up, and we’d end up in a big stupid fight. Eventually I started taking a different approach: instead of just insisting that it wasn’t funny, I’d point out how funny does not necessarily equal harmless. I’d give examples of jokes that cause damage (like kids teasing each other in school, for example) to remind him that, hey, even if you’re “only joking” and everyone is laughing, you could still be hurting someone. Over the course of a few years of conversations like this, the frequency of these jokes has decreased significantly, so I call it a win.

          • Crayfish Kate

            Oh man, you….are so much more patient that me, haha! Such a good approach, but it’s sad for me to think one has to broach the subject as if talking to a first grader rather than a grown adult.

          • Courtney Kelsch Ward

            Ha! Yeah, I can see how it would appear that way, but I don’t really talk to my husband like a first grader. I just found it more productive to change the conversation, I guess because we could disagree endlessly about whether it was funny or not, but he obviously couldn’t deny that funny is not the only criteria to consider before saying something out loud.

          • Reframing things is magic and totally underrated. Sure, it’s emotional labor. But initiating conversations that help your partner carry more emotional weight in the long run = a worthwhile investment.

            We have to remember: men were conditioned to have these traits. They don’t magically change into emotional labor heavyweights; it takes time, effort, dedication, patience. It’s a team effort and a team win.

          • Emily

            I think there is a lot of truth to this—it IS like talking to a first grader, because (many) men were not given this information as first graders.

        • Crayfish Kate

          THIS. Thisthisthisthis. If I don’t laugh at his stupid not-funny millionth fart or poop joke, then it’s “You’re no fun anymore, you never laugh at my jokes. You used to think I was funny, now you just hate me.” Cue fight, and dead dinner conversation, and me shuffling off to bed in silence. I just can’t.

      • Eenie

        All jokes have some truth to them.

    • Vilmos Kovacs

      The hardest part of the wedding division of labor was the fact that my parents wanted to be very heavily involved in the planning and offered to pay and his stepped back completely. In our marriage it works great that I coordinate with my family and he coordinates with his. In our wedding planning it was a disaster, because I got stuck with a ton more work. So it isn’t even the emotional labor in your own relationship, it is the emotional labor in your galaxy of relationships.

      • Poppy

        Yikes, this seems to be happening to us right now. Did his parents stepping back have a negative impact on your relationship at all? I’m kind of worried that us not reaching out to them and them not reaching out to us might be passively creating some resentment/bad blood. We still have 6 months to go so if there’s a way to mitigate this, I want to try.

        • Vilmos Kovacs

          Have you heard that saying, “A son is a son until he finds a wife; a daughter is a daughter the rest of her life?” That is honestly their attitude, I think. It was really hard at the time. We have a good relationship now. It isn’t the relationship we have with my parents. I don’t think it is the relationship my husband wants with his parents. But we can’t create that relationship on our own. At the time, my husband was really hurt. My parents were really frustrated. I was frustrated. I’m sorry to say that there was nothing we did that helped. My husband had a few conversations with them about how he felt like they weren’t excited for our wedding/marriage. They assured him they were, but I don’t think they could figure out how to express love via wedding related actions. I think the whole thing really intimidated them and it took the wedding process for me to understand that. My family is really large and concentrated in one place and attends lots of weddings and family events. My husband’s extended family is far flung and not very close. Both my MIL and FIL are estranged from siblings. So my family knew the wedding script and his didn’t. I invited his mom to get her hair and make-up done with my mom, grandmother, me and bridal party. She had an anxiety attack that morning and ended up washing everything off and doing her own hair. So, yeah, my husband was disappointed that they didn’t offer us a shower or engagement party. But that would have been way outside of their comfort zones. And to be honest, they thought the big fancy wedding was sort of silly. They just did. And we couldn’t convince them otherwise. That didn’t bother me. It really bothered my parents. But I know my in-laws did not realize that. And my parents actively work to be welcoming to my in-laws even though they are baffled by their family expectations. We’re expecting our first child, and instead of thinking my in-laws may offer a baby shower, I asked my aunts if my mother-in-law could invite friends and family to the shower my aunts are throwing me. That made my husband very happy. My mother-in-law is likely not going to invite anyone, but that is up to her. They are planning a vacation this summer over the time our baby is due and they are not planning on rescheduling it (it is an annual trip to a lake for a few weeks every summer). They may fly out to us when the baby is born, but I can’t guarantee it. We keep reaching out, but we have learned to manage our expectations. I don’t think it is malicious. I think it is a combination of the fact that they separated strongly from my father-in-laws family of origin for a variety of reasons and expect us to do the same and the fact that they are just introverts. I would just advise you to keep reaching out. But not to kill yourself to create a relationship that they may not want.

        • TheOtherLiz

          Yes, this is happening to me too!!!!! And the extra layer is that my dad is taking everything personally, so when we don’t want to go with an idea of his, my mom has to soften the blow for him, have a candid conversation with me about what we we really want, and then filter his response to me. I’m amazed she hasn’t collapsed from the EL of this wedding.

          • Vilmos Kovacs

            Oh, gosh, wedding flashbacks. My dad, mom and I had a similar dynamic.

  • Elizabeth

    I find all of this very interesting, particularly as I’ll doing my first ‘live with someone who’s not just a roommate’ in a month. I mean, obviously this idea has been making its way around lately, the idea of emotional labor, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Most of the ‘worry work’ I do, I do for my own benefit and reassurance. Professionally, I’m not an empathetic type of person, and I’m also significantly younger than most of my colleagues, so nobody at work (besides within friendships, which is an entirely different story) turns to me for that sort of emotional labor. It’s interesting, at least.

  • JenC

    Thank you for the article. It’s made me realise that we are starting to follow the gendered lines on emotional labour. This week my partner has asked several times which night we were seeing friends. I also had to prompt him that he was going to be going past his friends tonight so why not try to see him tonight rather than tomorrow, when he’s nowhere near his friends house. The problem is that when we met at university, he was completely capable of managing his own social life and did so rather well, just letting me know when he was free rather than asking when he was free. He could remember his mother’s birthday and would get her a card and present with no prompting, now he needs prompting. I’m not sure when it happened but I’ve started to become more responsible for the emotional side of our lives. I certainly didn’t plan it and I really doubt he planned it (he always said he couldn’t stand the way his dad was dependent upon his mum and that he treated her like a PA) so how have we slipped into these roles? When did we start to slip into the roles? I think this is something we can address quite easily but now I’ve realised it I’m worried about slipping into these roles in the future. I think we started to slip into these roles before we got engaged but once we got engaged the gap in emotional labour definitely grew because people just expected me to do it all and him to do nothing. So, how do you fight it when going forward the world just expects that the woman will just do all the emotional labour (that old cliche of the middle aged man who can’t confirm a social obligation as he will need to check with the boss at home that he’s free), especially when it appears we that we can quite easily slip into those roles?

    • Amy March

      I think you’ve hit on something really important here. Transitions. New job, new relationship status, new home, new family members. They’re always going to change a routine, and it is at those times that you need to really focus on making sure the new routine really works for you.

    • Eenie

      I F*CKING HATE IT when men at work will say the “big boss” is calling meaning their wife. It makes my blood curdle. Does this happen to know one else?

      • Carolyn S

        yeeeeeesssss. I asked my boss what his wife does and he said “boss me around!”

      • Eh

        CRINGE My FIL refers to my MIL as “the boss” and it annoys me.

      • Mary Jo TC

        The equally horrible inverse of this might be when the older man at work calls his secretary or personal assistant his “work wife.” My old principal did that–so gross.

      • Poppy

        I am also disgusted by this.

      • Jess

        YES. To a blood boiling level. I’m an engineer so it’s a lot of dudes and it’s so much, “The boss says…” or “My wife won’t let me…”

        I’ve been trying to figure out my reaction to this, and I believe it’s because of this:
        By referring to their wives sarcastically as “the boss” what men are actually doing is minimizing her capability and authority as an important person in their lives. This statement reduces everything she is into a nag.

        • Eenie

          Bingo! Engineer as well :)

        • lady brett

          also because it is usually a lie. it’s blaming someone who is not present and not part of that particular circle as an emotionally easier alternative to just telling someone no.

          admittedly, i sometimes give my honey permission to use me as an excuse, though, because it also *works better* because if the decision was made by someone who is not present then there’s no one there to argue with (when i did door-to-door fundraising for a week, we called this “being spoused”). also, sexist bullshit about how people respect “not wanting to anger the wife” over setting personal boundaries.

          • Jess

            Oh, that is very much also true. Usually it’s like, “Oh, no I don’t want to go to happy hour… I’ll just say the boss tells me no so they don’t give me a hard time”

            Self perpetuating!

          • BINGO: “also, sexist bullshit about how people respect “not wanting to anger the wife” over setting personal boundaries.”

      • AP

        Or “my old lady.” I want to stab someone.

    • eating words

      I think you also hit on something important about the expectations that women will do this. SO many people will contact the woman in the relationship to ask about schedules, gifts, or whatever; they’ll assume the man is helpless and treat him accordingly; and it takes real effort to push back and make sure both of you are participating at a fair level.

    • emilyg25

      I have learned to not care what other people expect. At Christmas, we showed up to his mom’s without gifts because he thought it was just going to be lunch and I turfed all the planning to him, and there was a small gift exchange we were unprepared for. I was embarrassed for a bit, but then I let it go. If there was any fall out, he’d have dealt with it.

      • Eh

        On the weekend we went to my in-laws – arranged by my husband and his mother. I thought we were just visiting for the afternoon. Around the time I thought we were going to leave (to put the baby to bed for her regular bedtime) my husband asked what my MIL was cooking – it was ham and scalloped potatoes (his favourite). He then asked me if we could stay for supper. My MIL said, “Oh I thought you were staying”. My husband point blank said “There was no discussion about supper when we made plans.” (This is not the first time this has happened so emotionally I was prepared for the possibility.) I am glad he pointed out the communication issue to her because in the past my MIL has blamed my husband or my FIL (both notoriously bad communicators) for miscommunication.

      • Cellistec (formerly Lizzie)

        Whoa, wait…not caring is an option? (I meant that as a joke and then I realized it’s sad commentary on assumptions about women’s emotional labor burden. Womp womp.)

        Seriously though, that makes me think of all the times I knew to do something for a social event that was expected but not explicitly stated, and my husband had no idea we were supposed to do it. It’s one huge reason I have trouble letting go of emotional labor around social expectations. But it’s clear that letting him handle things (and the fallout from the things) is part of an egalitarian relationship. Hence “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”

        • Eh

          “But it’s clear that letting him handle things (and the fallout from the things) is part of an egalitarian relationship” – THIS – one key thing though is him feeling the fallout. When my husband fails/drops the ball at social expectations my MIL blames me (and then I give her a line about how my husband is an adult)

          • Cellistec (formerly Lizzie)

            Yup, that’s the sticky part: when a hetero couple fails to fulfill a social expectation, it’s the female partner who gets blamed (and/or who feels at fault). The male partner bore no responsibility for the social duty in the first place. Total double standard, and totally effed up.

          • Lisa

            This is something I tried to explain to my husband recently when I ironed his shirts after doing the laundry. We’re living in a very “traditional” place right now, where women happily admit to having pursued MRS degrees in college, and I told him that, if he goes out of the house in wrinkled shirts, people are going to judge me because it’s my job as the wife to make sure he looks decent. He doesn’t get it at all, and it makes me so flippin’ mad that I have to think about this kind of stuff and that he doesn’t.

          • Ashlah

            We had lots of these talks during wedding planning. Okay, I understand you think I’m stressing too much, and I’d love to just let it go, but if people are unhappy it will reflect on ME. You won’t be judged if our wedding isn’t “good enough,” I will.

          • lady brett

            this is like how my mother would end arguments over “stupid” rules (like whether i had to brush my hair) with the joke that it was because “if i let you ____, i’ll lose my mother license!” it was funny, which helped, but it was also so real (which i didn’t realize until…probably ’till i had kids) about where judgement falls.

          • Cellistec (formerly Lizzie)

            AAAAHHHH this is me. I recently started explaining to my husband that I would like him to buy new shoes when his old ones get water-damaged and mildewy with bits of rubber sole coming off. “But they’re comfy!” he protests. So I point out that I can’t be seen as the wife who lets her husband leave the house in decrepit shoes, because it will reflect badly on me (we even live in a very liberal area). To boot (pun intended), if I wear my sparkly rented jewelry (Rocksbox ftw) and he wears moldy sneakers, I look like I’m spending all our money on bling while my husband shuffles around in decomposing shoes. No one would assume that he just likes his old stuff.

          • Lisa

            Ha, my mom, who took such great care of us for years and expanded SO MUCH EL on our family, always ironed my dad’s work clothes after doing the laundry. He refuses to throw anything away until it is in complete tatters, and she finally got fed up with the fact that she was spending so much time trying to make wholly, old clothes look nice so she told my dad he could either let her buy him a whole new wardrobe, which she would happily press, or he could learn to iron his own stupid clothes.

            You can imagine my shock when I came home for a visit and found my dad pressing his shirts. I didn’t even know he knew how to operate the iron!

          • Eenie

            Good for your dad for taking up the ironing finally, but who in their right mind takes that deal?! New clothes and magically ironed? Sign me up.

          • Lisa

            My father (and to a lesser degree I am as well) is very change-adverse. He knows what he likes and how it works together, and he doesn’t want to deal with the process of figuring out something new.

          • Also, depending on your parents, money can be a huge motivator. A whole new wardrobe will hit that bank account…

          • Lisa

            It’s definitely not for lack of finances. My dad is a major pack rat who can’t bear to throw anything away. He grew up in a very poor family as the oldest of 11, and unless something was broken beyond repair, they always found a way to make it work.

          • another lady

            my step mom started periodically throwing away his worn out clothes a little at a time… until he noticed! then, they made a deal that when he got a new shirt, he had get rid of an old one! At least he doesn’t look like a bum anymore!

          • Lisa

            My mom has tried that, but my dad gets so upset! I think he’s got some undiagnosed OCD/anxiety issues, and he has a reeeeeally difficult time with stuff like that.

            My favorite mom trick was when she decided to switch from regular mayo to low-fat. She took the old Hellman’s jar and re-filled it with the new, low-fat stuff not once, but twice. Finally on the third jar, she left the mayo in its packaging, and my dad flipped out about the “new” mayo until she told him he’d already been eating it for the better part of a year without noticing. They now both contentedly eat their mayonnaise, and my dad doesn’t complain about it anymore.

          • AP

            This story is magical.

          • Lisa

            My mom is the best. :)

            She wants to switch to an olive oil based mayo now but is worried that he’s more vigilant than he was and will catch on to her trick this time.

          • Natalie

            I got blamed for every missed thank-you note to his side of the family. Um, I wrote 90% of them, and gave him a list of people he was (theoretically) very close to that he should take responsibility for, and he didn’t write them. Guess who my MIL called to ask about her friends’ thank you notes? I eventually wrote his thank-you notes for him, because people deserve thank you notes, and it was clear he might get it done within the decade if I spent much more time nagging than writing the damn things took. And this would be a shining example of how women end up doing all the emotional labor.

          • Natalie

            this happens to me all the time. My MIL will call my husband, leave a message, and won’t hear back for days. So she’ll call ME and ask me to hand MY cell phone to my husband or tell him to call her back. To be clear, we’re not talking emergency stuff, just him not talking to his mother. There’s no big emotional reason he’s not calling her, just that he’s busy and forgets that he should maintain a relationship with his mother. Sometimes I’ll pass on the message, he still won’t call her, and she’ll call me days later assuming I didn’t pass on the message. I’m sick of nagging a grown ass adult to talk to his mother.

            On the other hand, this is one of the very few annoying things my MIL does, and I call her regularly to chat because I like having a relationship with her. I’ve started to tell her that my husband listens to me as well as he listens to her, which makes her understand that it’s not my fault he’s not calling, and she’s accepting that I’m not his secretary.

      • Mary Jo TC

        I work to not care about emotional labor connected with my kid’s daycare. I find it ridiculous that toddlers and babies are expected to exchange Christmas presents and valentines, which means that the parents (read: mom) have to buy, wrap, prepare these. 2 years in, I’m resigned to half-assing it and not caring that our valentines and presents are the crappiest in the room. The care and creativity the other parents put into these things surprised me. I wish we could agree to all bring it down a notch.
        Also, I was proud of myself for nixing a gift exchange this Christmas between my son and his cousins and my cousin’s twins, because I was already buying presents for 4/6 of the kids in the exchange, since they’re my nephews and niece.

        • emilyg25

          That’s kind of insane at your daycare! I always wonder how I’ll handle stuff like this–I’d like to think I’d say something or silently opt out, but I don’t know. I have a real problem with expectations like this that add a burden to being a working parent and don’t make a big difference for the kid.

  • honeycomehome

    I wonder how much of this, especially the expectations from family-in-law, comes with marriage? I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost ten years, and living together for five of those, but we have almost no issues with division of emotional labor. We each attend to our own families, we manage our own schedules and manage to remember important appointments.

    Maybe it also gets worse with kids? I’d be really interested to know if APW ladies noticed any change pre and post marriage and/or pre and post kids.

    • Arie

      I have been totally weirded out to see how much the relationship with my fiance’s parents changed immediately after we got engaged. It wasn’t like this when we were dating! It’s like some switch flipped in their expectations. I feel like now I’m going to be a *wife* and not a *person* who has reasonable and typical person-hood standards to live up to.

      • Eh

        One of my ex’s parents expected that I be his housewife when we moved in together. I was going to university full-time and in no way shape or form did they see that as work. I was expected to cook and clean since he worked all day. They didn’t get that my scholarships paid for my school and that I needed to keep up my grades to keep my scholarships. Based on his parents relationship I am pretty sure that even if I had a full-time job that I would still be expected to do all the cooking and cleaning (my ex’s mother worked and did everything for her husband and adult sons).

    • another lady

      I think a lot of it also has to do with who you pick as your partner and how things play on in your long-term relationship. I had realized that I needed a 50/50 relationship with a male partner for things to work, and I was very upfront about this in the beginning. It has mostly staid that way after living together and marriage because we work at it and make it priority. Things have shifted as work responsibilities and things have changed, but mostly we try to keep things 50/50 with house work and what not.

    • Ashlah

      Nothing changed for us when we got married. He still deals directly with his family and I with mine, our division of labor is the same as it ever was. I suppose marriage could change those things, if your partner or his family have different expectations from marriage vs cohabitating (e.g. perhaps his mom starts contacting you instead of him after you become Wife), but I think generally your arrangement is going to stay the same, especially when you’ve been together as long as you have. I think often when people talk about marriage changing things, it’s because they got married while they were still figuring these things out.

      Kids, on the other hand, I would expect to be more challenging, but I can’t speak to it personally yet. We both expect we’re going to have to make a concentrated effort to keep things egalitarian because it seems far too easy for it all the fall to one parent.

    • Lawyerette510

      In lots of ways it didn’t change for us, but I think that’s because after 6 years of dating and living together, I was already emotionally invested in my now in-laws. While generally he takes lead on his family and his important stuff and I take lead on mine, I also care about the relationship I have with his parents and siblings, so I will take things on there when I feel like I need to nurture those relationships.

    • Magi

      As someone below said, it has a lot to do with your partner is. I also think it has a lot to do with who their family is! I definitely had some unexpected new assumptions laid on me when I went from long-term gf to wife; but a lot of them actually came from my in-laws. For some people marriage is not a huge distinction, but for others it’s a whole new level of relationship within the extended family unit and they WILL see you differently. It’s not necessarily always bad, but can be surprising.

  • lady brett

    i think this is the other half (the “women’s pay is what pays for childcare” and wage gap being the first half) of the reason that most stay at home parents are women still. if the woman in the relationship is already doing the majority of the emotional (and especially if also the non-emotional) labor of “running a household” then of course it makes more sense for her to be the one who doesn’t *also* have to do a paid job. this is why i am aiming to be a housewife. in my case, i am really excited about it, and it plays to both of our skills (and there’s no men in our relationship), but it is also culturally relevant that that is consistently more true for women than men.

    • Sheila

      This is such a good point. My career is taking off and my husband just lost his job, so we debated if he should stay home with the kids. But after one month of him staying home without the kids (we don’t want to lose the daycare spots if he’s about to start work again), I have realized that would never work. We have totally different expectations of what he could/should be doing during his time at home. So many things don’t even occur to him, and the dynamic of me making lists and then asking what he completed is NO FUN at all. But I somehow hadn’t made the connection quite the way you just put it, so thanks for that.

      • Lawyerette510

        My husband recently lost his job, and shortly thereafter I was offered a job that would have meant a large increase in responsibilities/ stress-levels/ time and a significant enough increase in pay that he would not need to be employed full-time, so could be at home most the time to do all the things I wouldn’t have the time to do if I took the new job. We spent 24 hours thinking about it, but ultimately him being a “house husband” is not something that would be good for our relationship because of the EL component, specifically having to do with what could/ should be done when someone is working in the home and someone is working out of it. He doesn’t have a desire to run our household, so the result if he stayed home would be me being his manager, which wouldn’t work for us. (Note, we don’t even have children, but I imagine that would up the ante further.)

        • TeaforTwo

          This happened with us. It was never a long-term thing, but fairly early on in our living together/marriage, my husband had two four-month bouts of unemployment.

          I really appreciated that we could spend our evenings and weekends relaxing together, because he was taking care of the household stuff during the day like laundry, errands, etc. and I loved coming home to dinner in the oven. We also moved during the second bout of unemployment, and he did almost all of the packing which was incredible.

          But you’re absolutely right that I was still the manager. He ran the errands while I was at work, but I made a list in the mornings before I left. They were short enough stints that it never got to be a big problem (I preferred making the list and coming home to find it done to making the list AND doing the work, for sure) but it wasn’t long-term sustainable, for sure.

          • TheOtherLiz

            Do you have any tips for how to do it better? Currently struggling with this, as the employed woman in a hetero relationship – also with a few more years of career experience – I am working full time at a demanding job, project managing our wedding planning, taking the lead on our housing search, keeping our social calendar organized, and also advising him in the job search and networking process. Where’s the escape button?

          • TeaforTwo

            Hmmmm…unfortunately, not really?

            The longer we’re together, the more I start to understand the tips I’ve always read in women’s media about letting go if things aren’t done your way. It never made sense to me, because it’s usually about house cleaning, for example, and I’ve never been that clean. (Meaning that he couldn’t be washing the floor wrong, because if he was washing the floor, he was years ahead of me.)

            It’s harder for me to let go with the kinds of things you described. I lead our housing search, for example, because I really care where we live. When I found our current place, he texted “sounds good” and I signed the lease without him having seen it. It was more work for me to find the apartment, for sure. But I also would never in one million years let him sign a lease without me seeing the place (maybe more than once!) and without more information.

            Similarly, I made a lot of unilateral decisions about our wedding, but I expected him to consult with me about the decisions he made. And while I’ve drawn a line of “if he forgets his mother’s birthday, that’s his problem because she’s his mother,” I would have a harder time letting go of the job search, because I want him to have a paycheque!

            I’m sorry, though – it sounds very overwhelming that you have so much on the go. Have you talked to him about it?

          • TheOtherLiz

            It’s an ongoing discussion – and it’s not about him not caring, it’s more about… how do we escape this pattern? How do we make things more equitable? I’m a project manager at work and it’s tough for both of us to escape the pattern.

    • Sarah McClelland

      YES. If I were working more than 25ish hrs a week, I would have a much harder time handling the emotional labor of running the house.

  • eating words

    Ever since reading that Metafilter thread, emotional labor has become the lens through which I see the world.

    It’s interesting for a same-sex couple. On one hand, both of us were raised to understand the emotional labor we’re expected to perform. On the other hand, both of us absorbed some level of, “I have a wife who will do emotional labor for me, especially if I don’t feel like doing it.” We’re both super-aware of it and talk frequently about chores, scheduling, etc., and we both have areas that we’re stronger in — and not so strong. Whenever I start to feel frustrated about doing the bulk of planning, reminders to schedule appointments, keeping mental lists of cat food and toilet paper inventory, whatever, I remind myself of the things (tidying, dishes, etc.) that my wife absolutely does more of the work for. And when she’s stressed, I make a point of picking up some of the emotional labor for her. Being conscious of it is huge.

    • QUEER

      Thank you for sharing this.

      I am in an interesting and similar-but-different situation, in that my husband is a trans guy. The similar part is that he was socialized and raised as a girl, and is a really good listener, very patient with me and has super-high emotional intelligence. He’s usually excellent at taking initiative at household chores and so on. The different part is that, well, he’s a guy and has been for as long as we’ve known each other. He looks, acts, sounds like a dude 99% of the time.

      What’s been challenging me recently is that our work/life schedules have changed so that I currently have more free time than he does, and have been picking up most of the household duties. Not so much the calendar-social secretary things (I have always avoided taking that on for him) but like the everyday chores. Sometimes I’m ok with it (I like a clean house!) and other times it annoys me, I get resentful and simply don’t like taking on these traditional heterosexual roles, ugh.

      It would probably be good to talk to him about my feelings. But it will probably not be a very fun conversation, and I am not sure how to minimize defensiveness :/

      • eating words

        So glad you chimed in! It’s tough when one person has more free time. My wife has a long commute, and I work close to where we live, so 95% of the time I’m the one coming home to start dinner, feed the cats, program the coffeemaker for the morning, etc. It can get frustrating, but I’d happily take that over spending 1.5–2 hours in the car every day. For me, it helps to remember what I’m getting out the deal.

        I think that in your case, it might help to try to sort out what you dislike because it doesn’t work for your relationship, and what you dislike because of how it resembles traditional hetero roles. Other people in this thread have talked about how to avoid sounding defensive when bringing up things like this; it helps to lay things out in a way that works for your dynamic. Maybe it’s something like, “I’ve been noticing that since X, it seems that Y… Can we talk about that?”

        • QUEER

          Hey! Wanted to update you and let you know this morning I brought up the EL article with Mr. QUEER. It was a general conversation on the topic rather than being specific to my frustrations, because we had limited time and I wanted to gauge his response.

          It was really interesting. I learned a few things from talking with him about it:

          1) He said when he started taking testosterone for his gender-change process, he got worse at things like remembering dates. He was never good at it but believes that hormones really affected his brain in many ways, this being one of them. Thankfully I am not the social secretary in our relationship — but I wonder about the biological differences between men/women/people in general. How much does that play a role in our relationships? [I am cautious about using this as an excuse, but don’t think this stuff has been studied much.]

          2) Mr. QUEER mentioned that he really doesn’t like how I make the bed. He was raised by a very picky (gay!) father who had a super-meticulous way of cleaning and tidying the house, and apparently my way of throwing the blanket over the sheets in the morning… does not fit that standard. But Mr. QUEER just leaves it be because, well, the bed is made. It was really interesting to hear that perspective! In our few years of being and living together, he had never mentioned it and talking about the article brought it up. Many women in the EL article and comments here have mentioned just accepting the way the other person cleans on your way to building an egalitarian household… and Mr. QUEER did a really good job of that.

          Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts and I wish you and your wife continued harmony :)

  • Cellistec (formerly Lizzie)

    I was reading all the comments, mentally patting myself and my husband on the back for not falling into the trap of traditional EL gender roles, and then I realized: we do this too. I just always chalked it up as “I’m a control freak” or “men are dumb about social stuff.” So when there’s a gift to be given for a wedding or baby shower, I procure it and wrap it, because my husband is “terrible at gifts.” I design and order our holiday cards because “he would pick an ugly one.” I juggled most of the wedding planning because it would have taken too long to teach him to do it (teaching is emotional labor for me too).

    He’s so good about 95% of our shared lives, but I’ve created these narratives to let him off the hook for the other 5%. Mind blown; paradigm shifted.

    • Jess

      About two years ago, I completely opted out of family gift giving with my husband’s family. His family is TERRIBLE at giving gifts on time, and it was MADDENING to me to have to rush out last minute before a family event to make sure someone had a birthday present. I am the kind of person who will buy a gift months in advance if I see something I think you’ll like, and I couldn’t stand that even though birthdays are the SAME DAY EVER YEAR, shopping for gifts always seemed to come as some sort of surprise. It caused me so much stress that eventually I told my husband that he and his sisters could take that responsibility. If someone gets an antibacterial computer cleaning cloth six months after their birthday (a thing that actually happened), at least it’s not on me.

      • ART

        antibacterial computer cleaning cloth six months after their birthday

        might have just laughed some salad through my nose there.

      • tr

        Am I the only one who’s genius fiance will take no initiative at gift giving, but then proceed to critique the whole thing?!?!?!
        I swear, my FH is so amazing in so many ways. When it comes to gifts, however, he can’t be bothered to budget for them, nor can he be bothered to shop for them ahead of time. Then, two hours before he needs the gift, he’ll tell me, and I’ll drop everything to run out to the store, where I’ll have half an hour and $15 to pick out the best gift possible. I’ll come home proud of what I did considering my limitations, and he’ll wonder why I didn’t get the person an engraved iPad.

    • Magi

      YUP. “He will do a bad job at x” is such a hard thing to get past; you think, “I’m GOOD at x, why wouldn’t I be the one who does it?” until you’re doing x, y, z and all the rest. It’s hard to learn to either let it not happen or not happen the way you want it to.

      • Eh

        A little off topic, but this reminded me that my FIL tells his sons to do a bad job at tasks so that they won’t have to do them in the future. My husband and his brother learned very quickly that it wouldn’t fly with me and my SIL. My FIL has made those comments in front of my and my SIL. More recently my husband and his brother have both told their father that it doesn’t get them out of tasks (and might actually result in you having to do the task until you learn how to do it).

        • Eenie

          YES! This was common in my family too. If you do it wrong the first time, you wouldn’t be asked again. I put my foot down HARD on this one.

          • Eh

            Before my husband and I moved in together my husband had to stay with me (for over a month) because I hurt my back and could not lift or bend (I could barely dress myself). I did have to give up control on how things were done and I did have to change my standards but I still expected that things be done to a minimum standard (eg that if the task was to clean the toilet that the toilet be clean). This is actually why my husband does most of the cleaning still to this day.

          • What if your husband injures himself, or breaks something, almost every time he’s doing chores? He sprains his back cleaning and breaks dishes cleaning, and I’m fairly sure it’s because he’s doing it “wrong” but don’t have the heart to tell him that when he’s in pain or feeling guilty? But at this rate I’m going to end up doing everything.

        • OhNoThereGoesTokyo

          That’s right! Half assing it means doing it twice, possibly three times.

      • Cellistec (formerly Lizzie)

        So true. When I cringe at the way he’s done something, he sees me and retorts, “Why don’t you just do everything then.” And if I keep this up, I WILL be doing everything. I have to remind myself that done is better than perfect.

        • Jessica

          I hate this attitude. This attitude has led to fights. This attitude is the antithesis to everything my parents taught me and what my husband preaches regularly, but it still pervades into our marriage and family relationships.

          Example: My mom and I had a conversation with my husband and dad about what bullshit it was that at Thanksgiving the men wouldn’t help prep, would come eat, then would go to the living room and not do any dishes. They both vowed to help with dishes at the next holiday. Thanksgiving came up and my dad actually stuck around and offered to dry the dishes as they were washed. Grandma (minutia-obsessed control freak) scolded him for “using the wrong towel,” which then led him to whine about how that reaction is why men leave the kitchen–they can never do anything right and aren’t made to feel welcome.

          I had to remind him that every woman in the family went (and goes) through that as well and we don’t shirk responsibility, and he quieted down. While I don’t approve of how my grandma phrased things, in her own way she was pointing him to the towel that dries dishes faster.

          • Ashlah

            #maleego

          • JLily

            Gahhh this is how it is and has always been in my family too. It’s the worst because the women 1) organize the dinner/buy gifts, 2) cook and clean, and then 3) end up bustling around the whole time and actually not spending much quality time with anyone.

            I hate it so much that I am resolved to do only “my share”–usually making 1 or 2 dishes and also playing bartender–and then I am done. I don’t clear the plates or clean. I know this doesn’t help my aunts/mom/grandmas, but I guess I think of it like I’m trying to break the cycle? My brother and college-aged boy cousins have actually started helping with things, since they have witnessed this dynamic their whole lives as well. Gives me hope.

          • THIS THIS THIS. “I had to remind him that every woman in the family went (and goes) through that as well and we don’t shirk responsibility, and he quieted down. While I don’t approve of how my grandma phrased things, in her own way she was pointing him to the towel that dries dishes faster.”

            I hate that it’s acceptable for men to say “to hell with it” about tasks because a woman has input on how that task should be completed. Part of being a helpful adult human is stepping up to the plate and not requiring kid gloves. Phrasing and tone are important, and some women take things too far. But SHEESH. If you can’t handle the heat, don’t manipulate the story so you can leave the kitchen, roll your sleeves up and adjust.

    • Sarah E

      Yeah, that kind of thinking was heavily ingrained into me through my family. I come from a host of strong women (and pretty great men, too), which meant we just did everything, all the time. So I internalized a lot of “men just suck at that” and “men just don’t think that way,” that my awesome husband and APW and further feminist reading in general have all helped me slowly recognize then break out of.

    • Your plight reminds me of this article by Anne Marie-Slaughter: http://time.com/women-are-sexist-too/

      • Cellistec (formerly Lizzie)

        Great article, and one I hadn’t come across before. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sara

    Amen.

  • Ashlah

    I honestly think we do a pretty good job at splitting the emotional labor in our house. There are areas where I fail (grocery shopping and cooking) and areas where I invest more (financial duties, improving our house [we once had a fight about how he ‘just doesn’t care’ about curtains]), but overall we do pretty well. I still want to send my husband that MetaFilter pdf and see what his thoughts are.

    What all this recent talk of emotional labor has done for me, though, is made me realize why I’m so terrible at making and keeping friends. I have never put in the emotional labor necessary to maintain a friendship. I don’t know why I never learned how to do that. Part of it is lack of confidence (“They don’t really want to hang out with me…”), but a bigger part of it is just…laziness? Not making an effort to make plans with friends, not getting in touch with them until they reach out to me. It’s been a big epiphany–I always knew, and joked, that I’m a
    bad friend because I fail at making plans with people, but somehow putting it into the context of emotional labor has made me really recognize the importance of it. I really am being a shitty friend. When I don’t reach out, I’m signaling that they aren’t important to me. But I’m working on it. I made plans with two friends just last night!

    • Jessica

      It’s interesting to hear you talk about the EL of friendship from a woman’s POV. All of my ‘bachelor’ friends will dip out on us for awhile, then reappear suddenly after they had an epiphany of how long it’s been since we hung out. My close female friends and I organize stuff every week (or at least a couple times a month) and will always invite these guys, but it’s a running joke about what excuses the guys will have for not coming. I think it’s because they just don’t emotionally invest as much in friendship as the rest of us do.

      • Cellistec (formerly Lizzie)

        It may also depend on where you are on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. I’m deeply introverted but spend hours buying/making and sending cards to friends and family; just don’t ask me to host or plan an in-person event. My extroverted husband doesn’t do greeting cards of any type, but sees friends face to face a couple times a week. So for my friends who prefer in-person visits, I probably look like a recluse, and for his friends who love birthday cards, he may look callous. Sending cards and making plans both count as emotional labor, I think, but in order to maintain relationships, you do have to pick at least one to do.

        • AP

          “…in order to maintain relationships, you do have to pick at least one to do.”

          This is the key for me and what I’m trying to get across to my husband. It’s fine not to take the lead on in-person stuff, but if you don’t do anything at all or don’t ever accept people’s invitations, then other people stop reaching out and you find yourself alone. And relationships are way easier to maintain than they are to start from scratch or to rebuild after a significant amount of time has gone by.

    • Carolyn S

      oooo this hits close to home!

    • AP

      It wasn’t until I got divorced and lived alone that I learned how to maintain friendships. I realized that I had always just tagged along with college roommates and let them make the plans, and whenever I had a boyfriend I would just become enfolded into his social group. I’ve always had friends, but they were default-by-proximity friends from school or internships or living situations. After a few weeks of living alone and being bored out of my head and wondering why no one ever called me, it was like a lightbulb went off and I started making new friends as well as making new efforts with old friends.

      This is actually something that the EL metafilter has made me think about, and something that my husband and I are currently struggling with. Through a combination of introversion and just not valuing relationships, my husband doesn’t really have friends. He’s got one childhood best friend in town who he sees maybe a few times a month, a couple of other childhood friends spread around the country who he rarely talks to, and his work mates. His family members are also his friends, but he doesn’t make much of an effort to see them now that we live 30 minutes away. He used to live at home so he saw them all the time, and that was his social life. On the flip side, I have a ton of friends, both local and around the country, with whom I have pretty close relationships that are very important to me. Our struggle is balancing our needs…he expects me to be his social life, but I want him to have a social life that doesn’t depend on me. He wants to do everything together, but I think it’s healthy and important for us to have some separate interests and social activities. And I’m realizing that I’m tired of the emotional labor it takes for me to be the one who has to balance friends and marriage, while he would be perfectly content to let all our other relationships fade away.

      • Ashlah

        Yes to the default-by-proximity friends. The friends I hung out with every day in high school I now see once a year, maybe. I don’t talk to anyone I met in college. Friends I made at my retail job are mostly gone. The only one that’s stuck around is, amazingly, one who ALSO struggles with making plans with friends and lack of confidence. We had an honest discussion about it before I quit that job, and we’ve both managed to put in the effort to maintain friendship. So I know I can do it! It just takes work that I’m not used to doing/valuing, even though I know logically that it’s super important.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I definitely lost a treasured female friendship because I wasn’t doing enough emotional labor. I can blame it on distance and college and self-absorption, but the real problem was that I wasn’t paying enough attention to her or caring enough to support her or even to notice that she was going through a really rough time. We’ve since reconnected, but it’s not the same. This is a thing. I learned from it, but at a huge price.

    • Abe

      I can definitely relate to this (re: friends and emotional labor), though I struggle with my perception vs. reality of how I’m doing. I often feel guilty that I don’t do enough for my friends, which frustrates my partner, because he thinks I put in way too much emotional labor as it is. As a man, is it just that he doesn’t “get it”, because guys don’t typically put in a lot of emotional labor with their friends? Or is he picking up on a real discrepancy, and I need to quit the worrying? Anyway, I feel ya!

    • akm

      Ashlah, I had this reaction to the MetaFilter thread as well – we do a good job of balancing EL in our house and partnership. But in other female-female friendships? 1/2 the time I’m completely burnt out from being a therapist, and 1/2 the time I’m avoiding investing, avoiding getting to know or attend to someone else. Either way, I feel like I never hit the right mark of shared EL in friendships.

      I’m not sure what it is about friendships that is so difficult for me with EL. I think I resent EL in friendships because the EL isn’t opening discussed or negotiated. With my partner, we can have a conversation if I am burnt out, or something isn’t balanced. With a friendship, it just kind of ….. festers? I don’t know how to articulate what I want if something feels off – I want to say “hey, how come you never ask about my life?” or “hey, why do I also invite you over?” But I never learned how to judge if my friendships can sustain those conversations (and I don’t think many of my friendships can). Also, I feel that these EL investments in friendships seem even more fraught as friendships have gone out of synch: while I settled down and got more invested in my family life (which makes me happy), other friends embraced an extended adolescence (which also makes them happy), and it got more and more difficult to bridge those different perspectives.

      • Amy March

        “extended adolescence” is a really problematic way to describe other adults’ choices to me

        • Cellistec (formerly Lizzie)

          I agree, and I think friends can grow apart regardless of what choices each have made. But it’s painful when you don’t want to drift away from a friend and feel like you’re doing all the emotional labor to keep the friendship afloat. In that situation, the other person may look immature (or adolescent) because they chose different priorities.

          Total projecting on my part; if I called it wrong, feel free to say so.

    • CII

      Although not exclusively an introvert issue, I think this can be an issue that introverts struggle with in particular. For me, I interact with people every day at work, and when I’m not working, I’m try to spend as much time as I can either with my husband, or doing things that help me relax (reading, taking a bath, walking my dog, binge-watching a silly show), all of which are sort of “alone” activities. Sometimes I forget that my friendships need maintenance, too. Although, it’s also why I tend to do well in friendships with other introverts, or low-EL friendships (i.e., independent people who may not need add that I have found that friendships work best for me when there aren’t a lot of hurt feelings if day-to-day interactions do not occur — i.e., where it works for both parties to not interact with someone for a few weeks and then call or text “hey, want to get breakfast this weekend and catch up?”

    • SAME. “It’s been a big epiphany–I always knew, and joked, that I’m a bad friend because I fail at making plans with people, but somehow putting it into the context of emotional labor has made me really recognize the importance of it.”

      I’ve been trying to improve at this especially since reading about emotional labour recently. I’ve been starting small with just trying to get in touch with people more often. It’s hard for me because even though I care about people and want them in my life and like seeing them… I find “plans” exhausting most of the time. Hard to find a balance.

    • Poppy

      Thanks for putting this out there, Ashlah. Do you have any tips or ideas about how to support my introvert fiancé who has expressed some very similar worries about himself and his ability to maintain friendships?

      • z

        Does he have social anxiety? I do– I’m always stressing about whether friends really like me, whether the plans I propose are good enough, whether the event will go well, etc. Another friend once sat me down and explained that enduring the stress and anxiety of making plans is a burden that must be equally shared. Just as we would share cleaning up the kitchen or paying for pizza. It was like a light went on! So you could try approaching it like that.

        • Jennifer

          How do you actually go about sharing enduring stress and anxiety? I have some social anxiety, and it frustrates me when my husband doesn’t feel any stress. But it seems like having us both stressing out would be worse, no?

  • emilyg25

    I do most of the emotional labor, but he does most of the other labor and it works well that way. I’m (generally) perfectly happy to do all the planning, etc. if it means I can sit on the couch after dinner while he cleans everything up. :)

    • Magi

      Thumbs up that this works for you!

  • Magi

    I’d love to hear from other APWers on the particular nuances of money and emotional labor. There has been a lot of really great discussion of emotional labor in relation to one’s family (baby family, in-laws, your fam of origin), but I’d like to hear about how yours and your partner’s attitude about money relates to the division of labor. In my own marriage, I’ll use the example of housework. We both work full-time (no kids), and have had trouble dividing housework evenly; somehow, I am always the one cleaning the kitchen, sweeping and mopping floors, and scrubbing toilets. I recently got a new position that comes with a pretty substantial pay bump; I want to negate the whole discussion by hiring someone to come clean our home every two weeks. It’s not an amount that would be a huge burden to us; something like $100/month. My spouse really dislikes this idea and mocks me for being too bourgeois to clean our home! He thinks it’s totally ridiculous and insists that if I want to do it, the money should come out of my own personal fund (we each have a personal petty cash fund to use as we please once we get done with shared expenses).

    I guess what I want to know is, do any of the rest of you experience this issue? When is it okay with you to simply throw money at the problem? Does it bother your partner?

    • Ashlah

      I brought up the possibility of hiring a house cleaner for a once-a-month deep clean, but my partner is adamantly against the idea of having a stranger in our home. I think he’s being ridiculous, but for us the issue isn’t uneven division of labor, it’s that we both hate cleaning and it doesn’t get done as often as it should.

      If I were in your scenario? I would be very upset. Does he recognize how much more work you put in to cleaning the house than him? Have you discussed your division of labor with him? If he isn’t open to hiring outside help, then he needs to step up and take the burden off of you. That seems like the more important/first conversation you need to have.

      • Magi

        It is quite upsetting! I’ve tried to chill and just let stuff go uncleaned; we have spent a lot of time figuring out our division of labor and he *does* sometimes do the sweeping and scrubbing, but if he doesn’t explicitly promise he will do it then he assumes I will. Sometimes he promises to do it and it doesn’t get done anyway. Somehow he ends up doing “important” tasks that all happen to take place outdoors while I clean inside.

        The problem is that I hate keeping score. Discussions like this usually fall off into “you don’t do more than me!” on both sides, and the only way I see to remedy that is to literally keep score, which I really don’t want to do.

        It’s an ongoing thing we’re (read: I’m) working on constantly, but I’m more interested in how others have overcome their partner’s reservation at spending “unnecessary” money to solve problems. For us, it comes from different attitudes about money passed down by our families of origin, and I wonder how to help him see my side (or see his side, if that’s what needs to happen!).

        • z

          I don’t like keeping score either. It isn’t very fun. But here’s a story. One time I got so fed up with my boyfriend’s failure to do his share, so I decided to keep score. I posted a big paper on the fridge, and for two weeks I noted the chores that I did and the chores that he did. At the end of two weeks, I asked him if he had any chores to add to his list, and he did not. Indeed, I was doing about 10x as much household work as he was. In a good relationship, this would have resulted in a constructive discussion and rebalancing of responsibilities, and maybe even an apology. But instead, he chose to attack me for keeping score, as if that were the bigger sin. We are no longer together.

          Bottom line: I think the stigma against keeping score can be a way of silencing the person with the higher score. Or because we’re afraid of what we might learn.

          • Magi

            That sounds like a good suggestion; in my particular case, I don’t believe it will work. My spouse is highly competitive and I would not put it past him to up his housework quotient during that time just to “win”! It’d have to be a secret scoreboard, which would probably feel quite aggressive to him when I revealed it (I know it would to me). I could see this working for some folks though.

          • E.

            Maybe that would be a way to motivate him to do more! Or, if you just want to see how it balances, you could both sit down and brainstorm over the last week what you each did. That way he doesn’t know about it in advance to try and “win” but it’s also not keeping a secret scoreboard (I agree, that feels really icky and I would be very upset if my partner did that).

        • Poppy

          It sounds like one of the problems you’re facing is the sense of competition going on here. You’re telling him that you can’t continue on with the way things have been and he’s hearing: you personally can’t hack it and need to outsource one of your personal responsibilities to compensate. So he’s made it into your problem, not his problem, which he thinks should be solved with your money, not your collective bills.

          Regular housework is actually a collective responsibility, as is your comfort with your domestic labor arrangement. Have you ever approached him with the mentality that since you’re on the same team, your problem with this needs to be his problem also? If he thinks that hiring outside help is distasteful, he’d better offer up another way to solve this collective family problem.

          • TheOtherLiz

            I love your point that in a relationship, since you’re on the same team, your problem is his problem too! You’re supposed to share each other’s burdens.

    • Amy March

      Either he does all the cleaning without complaint, or you get to hire someone who will. You tried his way, and it failed.

      • Magi

        Very succinct! :) I like it.

    • Eenie

      We are doing that this month! He hated the idea of paying for someone to clean, but then we spent hours at a time on the weekend doing it ourselves. We have yet to actually hire someone though…

      • Magi

        How did you get him to come around to the idea?

        • Eenie

          Ours has a little history. I moved halfway across the country in December to his house that he’s lived in for a year. My two requests were that he unpack and get rid of all the boxes he hadn’t yet unpacked from his move, and then clean the house – highly suggesting he schedule a cleaning service two months out to do it for him. I wanted the house move in ready for me. He thought he didn’t need the cleaning service. He spent four hours cleaning the smallest room in the house. He gave up, failed to schedule the cleaning service in time, and we had a very sad “I will not live like this anymore” conversation. In which I said, my stuff isn’t even off the truck so now is the time to call it quits if we need to.

          So kind of an ultimatum? We had just finished driving 13 hours and I didn’t feel like I had anywhere clean to walk or sleep. I just hit my limit. Let him know. Talked it through. It was the solution to me not walking away from the relationship, in all honesty.

          We haven’t actually scheduled the service yet, but it is budgeted. The house is a mess right now. I’m quietly ignoring it while nudging him to please just handle it. The original cleaning service has been unresponsive to his calls/texts.

          • AP

            That’s tough. I’m glad you guys were able to come to a better place about it! I was in a long distance relationship in college, and whenever I would drive the 4 hours to see him and walk into a disgusting house with no clean dishes or place to sit or food in the fridge, it made me feel so unloved. Especially because when he’d visit me I’d spend a few days beforehand straightening up, washing the sheets, and stocking up on his favorite foods. I wish I’d had the confidence back then to say “this is about respect and it has to change or I walk.”

          • Magi

            Yiiiiikes I hate it for you!! Glad you were able to come around to a compromise, but that experience sounds like it was miserable. Here’s hoping he gets a new cleaning service handled ASAP.

          • VKD_Vee

            Nooo…

          • Eenie

            Haha, December was rough on us. Merry maids is coming this weekend!!! ?

          • VKD_Vee

            Ha ha! I only typed that because after reading your comment, my lips parted and that’s what came out! But good for you getting the Merry Maids over! :-P

        • honeycomehome

          I’d start by asking point blank why he thinks that it is your responsibility alone to clean your joint home. Because this is what he’s saying: it’s your labor or your money. Doesn’t he benefit from a clean house?

          Also, maybe point out that mocking you is unacceptable behavior.

          • Magi

            Lest anyone here think I’m a shrinking violet, I want to add that I did shut that mocking down right quick. But you pose an interesting POV: we do both benefit from a clean house. So (rhetorical) why can’t I achieve that in the way that works for me?

          • Does he not acknowledge that he benefits from a clean house? I thought that was a given… If he’s not accepting that premise, time for a talk.

    • Arie

      We compromised on this. Our cleaning service comes quarterly and does the big deep clean. This is enough to keep me from going insane, and it makes the upkeep cleaning much more manageable in between visits. It is also one of the most positive things we’ve done for our relationship. I would recommend phrasing it as “what else could we be doing with the time we/I am/are spending cleaning? What is our time worth to us? What is harmony in our relationship worth to us?” That made it easier, but perhaps starting with the quarterly clean could be a good compromise as well.

      • Magi

        I have tried framing it that way and he agrees in the moment, but then when it comes around to cleaning day again it’s like he forgets! I think he has a picture of how non-work-time and labor should look in our house and it just doesn’t match up with mine.
        If you don’t mind my asking, what’s in your “quarterly clean”? I’m looking at every two weeks for the floors (sweep/mop), dusting, and a good scrub of bathrooms/kitchen (including wiping down big appliances). We’d do maintenance-level clean in between, ideally.

        • Arie

          Those things, plus vacuuming and we pay a little extra for them to do the inside of the fridge. That way we do maintenance cleaning of bathrooms/kitchen/dog hair. We’re just not very good at it, though, so even with the maintenance cleaning by the time they come back around we are pretty happy to see them.

        • TheOtherLiz

          Have the two of you ever done the love languages quiz/study? That helped me frame more positively a heart to heart with my fiance recently – I finally told him outright that I was hurt that when I handed him a hand made Christmas gift, he had nothing for me. I framed it as “I’ve realized that receiving gifts is one of my important love languages” because I had not been explicit with him before that I was hurt. One of the other love languages that we both scored high on during the quiz (free online) was acts of service – it sounds like you would feel more loved and appreciated if your partner pulled his weight at home. Maybe it’s because of all the dumb sitcoms about nagging wives, and it just sounds like complaints – but reframing it as “by not helping and not paying, you’re making me feel less loved and valued”.

      • Poppy

        I dream of returning to this arrangement. When we were both working much higher salaried but more miserable jobs, we had someone come every two months or so for a deep clean. We both felt so guilty about it at the time (see “too bourgeois to clean our own home”) that we paid the person who came to do the cleaning twice his standard rate. It was still so worth it.

    • Caitlyn

      This is really frustrating, but it seems like you have an easy solution. You just got a raise. Use the money from the raise to hire the cleaner. Don’t change the amount that either of you have as personal petty cash. You are paying for the cleaner, but you are also getting an equitable amount of spending money. That seems like it would make everyone happy.

      • Magi

        It does seem simple when you put it that way! That may be what I just go ahead and do. I think I’m rather tired of trying to fight this one out.

        • Honestly, I am so offended by his response. I say it’s worth having another serious conversation with him about it. Keeks response above was my thought pattern. I don’t think he’s being fair AT ALL. Yes, you can afford it, but will you resent him for not contributing/seeing your side of things? It’s the principal of the matter that would weigh on me the most. He is mocking you for being above cleaning the house when you have carried the weight in that department. What are the emotional/time costs he’s not fully considering? Show him those.

          If a talk doesn’t get him to budge, you could do an experiment: tell him you won’t be doing any cleaning for awhile (a month?). He’s on his own. At the end of the experiment, ask him whether he felt supported and like you were a team around the house. Say that’s how you imagine feeling if he will not help you cover this expense. Sure, you’d live, but you feel like he’s got your back. If he still refuses to contribute after fully considering the situation, you can bite the bullet and work to let go of disappointment and resentments that arise.

          This is an opportunity for you to feel supported by your partner. Don’t rob him/you of that opportunity.

      • Emily

        I struggle with this idea of using the raise… it feels similar to the claim that childcare costs only come from the woman’s income.

        • Caitlyn

          I would agree if they didn’t share money. But since they do, it’s really just semantics (re-phrasing what she was already requesting). In theory, they put all of their income into one pot, pay all of their bills from that pot (including the new bill of a house cleaner), take a certain amount out for each of their spending, and the remainder goes towards savings/whatever they choose. So in that sense, it’s really coming from both of their salaries. However, since she just got a raise – the new bill will not affect either their spending money or their remainder. The shared bills will increase, but so will their shared income. In the end – she isn’t really paying for the cleaner – anymore then he is paying any specific bill. They are both paying shared bills. But since she just got the raise – it isn’t a matter of negotiating what other bills they might have to cut or agreeing to put less in savings. It is literally her saying – with our increased income – I would like our bills to also increase in this way. I agree that she should be able to just say “hey I want a cleaner.” and BOOM her husband would hear her. But that isn’t working. So maybe instead saying “I want a cleaner and it won’t affect your spending money or savings in any way” will be enough that he’ll understand continuing to protest when it is not affecting him other than a happier wife is pretty ridiculous. (I’m responding with such a long explanation because I do agree with you in a sense and felt awful saying “well it can come out of your salary – problem solved!” – so I hear you, but here’s my own internal dialogue about it).

          • Emily

            I see what you are saying and I think I am likely hung up in semantics. If this was my relationship and I had just gotten a raise, I would still be asking for his part of the money. I see what you are saying, and I know that financially it all comes out in the wash, but the action from him would feel important to me.

    • Keeks

      If he think’s it’s too bourgeois to hire a professional, perhaps he can be the noble peasant who does it all solely for his heavenly reward? Not to be too flip about it…

      • Jess

        This… was my reaction.

      • Emily

        Yes. Reading what you wrote me me angry with your husband. My response would be either he shares the cleaning, or he shares paying for the cleaning.

      • Magi

        Lol!! No offense taken, that actually made me laugh. You hit the nail on the head. I don’t think this mindset is a conscious choice he makes, but you’re right; it’s like I need to do all this free labor in our home or I’m not wife-ing right.

      • TheOtherLiz

        Yep, this x 1,000. Consciously or not, it seems that your partner is just enjoying the protective bubble of gender norms that save him from the trouble of ever wondering if he’s doing enough housework – but you’re the one with the smarts to say, this needs to get done – and if it’s not going to be done equally, then we might as well pay someone to do it. If this happened in my relationship, I would ask my partner why he thinks he doesn’t need to share in this labor equally in ANY scenario – either by doing an equal share or by paying an equal share.

    • emmers

      That sucks! If you want to try one more compromise, you could talk about how the reason you want to do this is because you don’t want to be in charge of cleaning, but if he’s willing to coordinate cleaning, then that would be OK. And perhaps you can set a trial period date, like “Let’s try you coordinating cleaning (i.e. you divvying up tasks, you doing your agreed-upon tasks) for a month, and then let’s check in on X date. If it’s going OK, let’s continue, and if not, let’s do the cleaning service.” I would also explain if he continues to push back how it makes you feel (like he thinks his time is more important than yours).

      • Magi

        This is a good suggestion! No reflection on you or your suggestion, but I got tired just reading that. I think that’s just indicative of my level of doneness in discussing this with my spouse. :)

        • emmers

          Fair enough! Not sure if this is helpful either, but another thing I thought about would perhaps be to go ahead and schedule a cleaning appointment in a month, and tell him you can cancel it if he can work out some kind of cleaning schedule/start taking care of cleaning stuff before then. Maybe less work? Good luck!!!

    • emilyg25

      For the money question, maybe try explaining to him how keeping the house clean takes resources—that can be time (and stress and marital strife) or it can be money. Does he understand the stress and resentment that this is causing? Maybe also try hiring a cleaner on trial? I had a hard time coming to terms with hiring a cleaner, but oh my gosh, it’s the best thing ever and I love her to death.

      • emmers

        I like trials. Because often they become permanent.

      • Magi

        Good suggestions – commodifying “time” as equal to “money” and a trial period.

    • emmers

      This might not be super helpful, but another thing I’ve been considering for us is buying a Roomba. The Roomba obviously wouldn’t take care of toilet-cleaning, but I’m thinking it will be $$ well spent on keeping the dog hair down versus weekly vacuuming.

      • AP

        Yes to the Roomba! It’s really helping with my dust allergies. We put one on our wedding registry and totally lucked out. They are expensive but I see them discounted all the time or old models for sale at places like Sam’s.

      • Magi

        I dunno if a Roomba would be a good option for us – split level house! But thank you for the suggestion.

    • lindsayinMPLS

      How long does it take you to clean the house, and what’s your hourly rate at work? Your time is valuable, with a dollar amount put on it by your employer. If it costs less to hire a cleaner than what it would be if you were getting paid to work, that could be a compelling argument. Or even the wage equivalent of both of you cleaning.

    • Scissors

      If my bf did what your spouse did, I would have thrown him out the window. And then I would have used our joint account to get a cleaning service.

      When I got my bf a cleaning service for his birthday, I was the best gf ever and he was so appreciative. It has actually made him a tidier person. He told me, “I thought it odd that the maid took the time to organize all this garbage I have on my dresser. Oh wait, why do I have all this garbage on my dresser?”

      You found a solution. He doesn’t like it. He has to offer a new solution or shut up. You don’t get to tear down solutions, mock the solution-maker and not come up with a new, better solution. There are some comments re compromise and I don’t think you should, but if you feel there must be a compromise, he should also spend a similar amount of money every month from his account doing something beneficial for both of you.

  • Juliet

    I really, reaaaaaaaaally struggle with my mom and my MIL’s relationship with emotional labor, in that they both do ALL of it for their respective families, and my mom resents it, and my MIL is so emotionally devoted to it as her ‘job’ that she is very hard on herself when she doesn’t meet her own, self-imposed (or societal) expectations.

    In terms of my MIL, last weekend my in-laws came to visit, and there was a small moment that really struck me. We were out to lunch, and my MIL asked my husband what he was planning to order. Here’s the conversation:

    MIL: What are you going to get?
    H: The Rueben. I really like Ruebens.
    MIL: You do? I didn’t know that.
    H: Yep! I like them a lot.
    MIL: (legit upset) I’m sorry, I didn’t know that. I reallyshould know what my son likes! How did I not know that you like Ruebens?!?!
    H: Uh, it’s okay mom.

    And I was like (in my head) WUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT. No, MIL, it is NOT your job to know that. It is not my job to know that. It is exactly one person’s job to know that, and that person is my husband. How do you talk to people in your life who aren’t peers about emotional labor? Do you? This dynamic absolutely defines/affects my relationship her, and I want to address it, but ooof- it’s a lot.

    • Ashlah

      Whoooaa, MIL. Whoa. Her life sounds exhausting.

    • eating words

      That DOES sound exhausting. But this story made me think of how my mother — after over 35 years of being my mother — *still* offers me foods that I’ve always hated, and which I cheerfully remind her I’ve always disliked.

      I dream of a happy medium.

      • Eenie

        My grandmother served stuffed peppers the first time she met my dad. He said he loved them, because he wanted to make a good impression. She served them every time he came to visit for her whole life. He hates peppers. They make his stomach hurt.

        • eating words

          Bahaha.
          Not exactly related, but: whenever my grandfather didn’t like something my grandmother cooked, he say, “Make it again next year.”

    • Jess

      Yuuuuuuuup. I worry about people who have taken mothering as their identity (see: my FMIL). It’s just not healthy and makes it challenging to know them as a person, which means really strained dynamics.

      I have no solution to how to change it, because she has knowingly made choices in her life to do this, so I just kind of politely sit there and give uninvolved responses until we all change subjects. That takes all of my politeness energy for the rest of the day.

      • Mal

        THIS x1000. My MIL is here to visit our new baby. As a the mother of 3 (that she had at a pretty young age) her whole identity is wrapped up in nurturing/caregiving/mothering and mine is……. not. So the tension between us gets pretty thick when she thinks I’m not “taking care” of her son, and I’m like ” you mean that grown a$$ man that is my husband/partner/father of my child?” He’s perfectly capable of making himself some dinner.

        I can only handle it for about 36 hours so I do a lot of reading in my room during her visits.

    • Magi

      So sad!! Sounds so much like my own mom. She has made HUGE strides in the last year with self-care and putting her own happiness as a priority (though it took a near-death experience to do it), but she still does ALL the emotional labor for my dad and brothers. I’m sure she’s getting as tired as I am of hearing me say “Mom, he’s a GROWN MAN. He can do x for himself.”

    • Oh man, I can relate to being surprised but sorry? intense. :(

    • BSM

      THIS I MY MIL, TOO. And it doesn’t help that the rest of her family (mostly my husband’s college-aged sister) frame her outlook on this as a ridiculous problem she has while simultaneously demanding she actually DOES know what kind of tea everyone takes. Oh, and did I mention that my MIL is not a homemaker? Lady has a Master’s in PT and works a full-time job. *cue hair-pulling*

      • BSM

        Ugh, and every time either my husband or I try to speak up a bit for her (see Magi’s comment below for an example), we get swiftly shot down by his sister who reminds us that we’re in THEIR house, so we don’t get a say. And then she continues putting down my MIL. Gahhhh.

  • Kayjayoh

    I’m tackling this issue a lot right now, and brought it up in the happy hour thread a couple of weeks back. One thing I did since that point was to make a household Google calendar. It’s kind of a pain, since I don’t tend to use anything other than my paper calendar for myself, but if it will decrease the “do we have plans this weekend?” questions, it will have been worth it. #notquiteHamilton

    • Lisa

      I shared my Google calendar with my husband this week mostly because of the discussion in that thread. We’re heading in hell week this week and next for a show, and I got tired of him asking me a million times which days I would be where and when he would need to pick me up.

      • emmers

        Ha! I talked to my husband just last night about him possibly downloading the Google calendar app so he can see our calendar because I, too, tire of being the coordinator, and it would save us both some hassle.

        • Jess

          Sharing both of our calendars through Google Calendar has been amazing. We don’t do household chores on them, but any time either of us is invited to a social event, we sent an invitation to tell the other person that it’s going on, and that they’re invited to it as well.

          We’ve gone so far as to send invitations for date nights.

          I feel that it contributes the most to our equal social planning. This and our weekly, “What’s happening in the upcoming week?” status meeting.

    • Emily

      We’ve used a shared Google calendar for many years and my husband has come a long way. Now he looks at the calendar, puts things on the calendar, and generally USES the calendar, not me. I have to give him kudos!

      He still has trouble thinking through an event. For instance, to get to that movie we will need to leave the house at X time, and the movie will probably last Y long, and by the time we get home it will be Z, so we need to take care of [feeding the dogs, kids, etc] before we go. He’s open and he’s learned and we’ve moved a ton. Plus, I love that our daughters see him doing all that.

      • TheOtherLiz

        As a person with ADD, I highly recommend the book “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?” – it has lots of great solutions and helps you understand the ADD brain more. It helped me develop coping mechanisms, like learning to make a backwards timeline that is honest about how long things really take.

        • Emily

          I just added this book to my list! Thank you for the suggestion.

  • Emily

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’ve decided that I’m blessed with a husband who does a ton of emotional labor. I am still better (more practiced) at these kinds of things than he is, but he puts a great deal of time and effort in and I appreciate that.

    Something I never see written about is the skill set needed for this work– strong executive functioning, future orientation. The writings I see about emotional labor all lean towards the gender angle and I’ve wondered some about that. Before I started reading about EL and gender, I thought this was simply a place I was more skills than he is–I have high executive functioning and I’m very future oriented. My husband has ADHD, pretty low executive functioning skills, and is more spontaneous and in the moment.

    I’m not sure what my point is… other than I’ve seen my husband’s skills grow in this area, and at the same time my skills will always (naturally?) be stronger. Perhaps this is because I’ve been socialized to develop them for so much longer…

    • “Perhaps this is because I’ve been socialized to develop them for so much longer…”
      I would bet you’d be pretty safe in removing the “Perhaps” from this statement. Research has proven that we get better at things we practice. Intelligence is expandable, and you can get ‘smarter’. So. If you keep using that executive functioning muscle, it *will* get bigger ;)

      • Poppy

        Yes to executive functioning skills getting stronger with use! This is part of why it drives me nuts when my partner talks about himself as “just a disorganized person.” The more he tells himself that, the more he gives himself the excuse to not develop those capacities. When something really, really matters to him, he has GREAT organizational and planning skills. Go figure, right?

        • TheOtherLiz

          You didn’t say that your partner has ADD, so I shouldn’t make the assumption, but as someone who DOES have ADD and is also very disorganized…. changing habits requires intellectual labor, and I’ve learned that I can only change one habit at a time. Disorganized IS indeed an adjective that I use to describe myself. It’s an unchangeable part of who I am, though I try desperately to manage it along with all the other things I do “wrong” because I’m ADD. So for example when my current roommate moved in, I had to explain to him that I could not, in addition to a demanding job and my other responsibilities in life, change overnight to accommodate his standards of immediately washing dishes, AND being less cluttered, AND not leaving my things on his coffee table. It would take me a few weeks to get the hang of one improvement, and if I tried to take it all on at once I would give up a couple of weeks in. This isn’t making excuses – this is knowing myself well after decades of experience being myself. That being said, that’s just me. And I HAVE made major changes for my roommate’s sake, though a box of cluttered papers now sits hidden behind my desk in a corner. At least he can’t see it.

    • Keeks

      There’s been a lot of research about how ADHD/ADD and autism spectrum disorders are harder to diagnose in girls and women because of the emphasis society places on the socialization of young girls. We learn from a very early age how to blend in and minimize symptoms.

    • TheOtherLiz

      This is interesting to think about because in my (hetero) relationship, I feel that I bear more of the emotional labor and intellectual labor (I’ll use both terms since there’s been some division about what’s better), but I am the one with ADD. I’ve expressed to my fiance that it would be a relief if he helped me remember things and keep up with commitments and routines, because I’m always struggling to do this and cope with my ADD…. but because I’ve spent so long coping, and also because I’m a project manager at work, I end up becoming our relationship project manager. I’m the one keeping us going on the wedding planning, I’m the one who searches for apartments and schedules viewings and then follows up with the rental agencies. Some of this is just intellectual – keeping our to-do list in my head, for instance. Some of it is emotional – because I’m the bride in a hetero couple, everyone from the photographer to my mother contact ME for my opinions, tasks and decisions. I’m the one who remembers that his sister is struggling as a vegetarian on a college campus and sends her a care package. I’m the one who gets the gift and card when we go to a wedding, who reminds him it’s his friend’s birthday, etc. But even though we talk about it, it’s difficult to shift our behavior and patterns, and I’m constantly afraid of things slipping through the cracks so I often just do it. Even though it’s a lot more work for me than it would be for someone without ADD.

      • Emily

        Thank you for telling me about your experience—I’m really interested. It makes me realize that I probably have been giving my husband (we’re also hetero) more of a pass than I was aware. I am happy that my husband and I look at scheduling as another chore to be done, so I manage scheduling, and he supervises the kids in cleaning the bathrooms.

        In my opinion, I think ADD and executive functioning skills need to be part of the EL (and IL) discussion. Teaching those skills to my children is a struggle in our household too. I intentionally don’t take on their responsibilities, and they often struggle (probably because they get ADD from their Dad).

        This entire thread reminded me of a couple I knew (another hetero) where the husband would routinely refer to his wife as “his brain.” As in, “I don’t know if I can do that—I’ll have to check in with my brain.” It used to drive me crazy and I wasn’t able to verbalize why—this is why.

        • TheOtherLiz

          Happy to share! I think a lot of why ADD is so much work for me to manage is because my mom, from whence my ADD came, bore the EL at home, including helping me manage my ADD symptoms… rather than doing what my dad wanted to do, which was let me make mistakes and learn from them. Neither of those things were what I needed, though, and have worked on as an adult: learning coping mechanisms. So my mom would secretly check my assignment pad and remind me to study for tests, while my dad would say “let her fail if she forgets”. If your partner is anything like me, he deals with shame for ADD-related shortcomings on a fairly regular basis. So he already may have a voice in his head about not being good enough… and may be berating himself for not doing his share. But if he can learn how to cope – this is HIS responsibility, not yours – and help the kids learn how to cope, everyone will be better off! One thing I find that I need from my partner is accountability – hold me accountable to the things I say I’ll do, follow up and ask me if I’ve done them, or what new strategy I’m going to try to get better at remembering to do them, rather than just covering my butt. I do WANT to be better at life, and I would love someone’s support at being that better person – rather than to have a mom who just swoops in at the last minute and does it all for me.

          • Emily

            “If your partner is anything like me, he deals with shame for ADD-related shortcomings on a fairly regular basis. So he already may have a voice in his head about not being good enough… and may be berating himself for not doing his share.”

            Yes–He does. I hate that voice. With one of the kids we had a pivotal moment where we learned something about her. I said, “She’s not a bad kid, it’s this X” and that was monumental for him… and I suddenly realized we were talking about him, too.

            “One thing I find that I need from my partner is accountability – hold me accountable to the things I say I’ll do, follow up and ask me if I’ve done them, or what new strategy I’m going to try to get better at remembering to do them, rather than just covering my butt.”

            I do this, especially for things I feel are important. But… I struggle with it feeling like nagging. Knowing when to let someone–spouse or child–fail and when to hold them accountable is difficult. I basically pick what I feel is important (i.e., hold that kid to having to pay for the library book if she doesn’t find it) and let the other stuff go.

            I really appreciate the reflection and work you have and are clearly putting in!

          • Bethany

            THIS! My partner and I are both ADD and yes to loving support at being a better person, not having someone who swoops in and does it at the last minute. For us, google calendar, trello, and auto-orders on Amazon have been key to coping. We still have to remind each other to put things on the calendar, but it’s so much easier to do that in a moment, rather than try to remember that we’re doing something several days later. We then just check the calendar each morning to make sure that we’re on the same page and don’t forget an evening engagement. Trello we use to keep track of cleaning and chore-type things because we both have found that we need checklists and this way neither of us is responsible for remembering every step — we write it down once and then we just refer back to that. Amazon subscribe/save has been clutch for things like not running out of toilet paper or cat litter.

            I do not know how ADD folk managed pre-technology. We would be so screwed without auto-bill pay…

            Of course, we are five months past our wedding and still haven’t written more than two thank you notes (though, we did have a huge medical issue in the end of 2015 so we figure we have until six months before we’re horribly rude).

          • TheOtherLiz

            Oh man, I can’t imagine what that must be like, both of you with ADD! This is helpful to hear how you manage. Thanks for sharing! And a fist bump of solidarity for the festering guilt of being behind on thank you notes.

  • Kathy

    Oh my gosh, my husband and I just had a long conversation about this very topic last night. Thank you for writing this! And thank you to everyone who has shared their own experiences in the comments! I, too, have reached my quota and it has changed so much of how our life feels. Now that we recognize and understand what is going on, we are in “solution generating mode.” There are a lot of great articles and I initially found myself drawn to those that helped validate how I was feeling – overwhelmed, overburdened, etc. And then this article revolutionized my understanding of the whole issue and helped me see it so much more clearly: http://time.com/women-are-sexist-too/ . It may not relate to everyone’s personal experience, but it resonated so very much for me and hope it helps bring more understanding to someone else.

    • Magi

      This is what I was trying to (poorly) articulate elsewhere in this thread! A lot of the problem with dividing household labor (emotional or otherwise) evenly comes from “he’s not gonna do it right”. This is an unflinching look at the bias behind that thought. Thanks for sharing!

    • ART

      Thank you for that link, it’s really timely for me because in my new quest to start better equalizing our labor, I have definitely realized there are some things I need to address about my own behavior and expectations. This morning I was thinking of sending my husband some instructions about getting dinner started before I get home (e.g., “the chicken is in the fridge” [no shit?]) and then I thought, stop, you found the new recipe and bought the ingredients. He can handle the rest, capably. Literally everything is in the place it always is (fruit/veggie bowl, cheese drawer, utensil drawer, etc), and he can read. He doesn’t need anything else. And maybe he comes up with a different way to accomplish some of it, whatever, I get fed right? I need to shut up a little and trust him. And if something about that particular recipe just shuts him down and he doesn’t want to try it…whatever, we’ll do it together and I’ll get by with some thin mints while it bakes. I married a man who can build a guitar amp from scratch, he can sure as hell make rolled up chicken with zucchini.

    • emilyg25

      Ugh, I hate this so hard. I remember when a coworker went away for a weeks-long work trip and had to leave detailed instructions and schedules for the kids and resolved never to be that person. When our son was born, my husband and I were equally clueless. Actually, I was more clueless because my husband had more babysitting experience. Every time I see a woman roll her eyes at her husband, I want to yell THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS. Women will never be equal to men until men can be caregivers too.

      • Ashlah

        My co-worker told me that her husband decided to cut their baby’s fingernails, and she kept yelling across the house, “DID YOU CUT HIM? DID YOU CUT HIM?” And, well, it turned out he had. But she expected him to fail from the get-go and made it clear to him that she expected him to fail. And when something went wrong (as I imagine happens a lot when doing something for the first time–and Google verifies this is a common accident), it just confirmed in her mind that he is useless and confirmed in his mind that he shouldn’t be handling anything baby-related. If she had accidentally cut the baby, she would have felt massive guilt, but it wouldn’t have meant she shouldn’t be allowed to do it. Men need the same chance to fail and improve that women have, without their partner yelling and generally being condescending towards their efforts.

    • Caitlyn

      I actually find that article to almost completely miss the point. Yes if two people of equal experience and knowledge are in the same situation and one micromanages the other – that’s crazy. So in the workplace if you start a new job and are treated as though you are incompetent by someone with a similar level of education and experience – yes that would be an issue. However, this DOES NOT directly translate to the home. Most women I know were trained on some level to be competent homemakers. (of course not always the case and yes some men get this training, but generalizing here). The author is asserting that even though I have years of additional experience and education on household tasks, that I should allow my partner (who does not share this background) to “do things his way” since “there is no right way”. That is putting ALL the blame on the female as though all of these issues are just in our heads and the solution is not that men improve their skill sets, but that women just accept a lower level of competence as acceptable. The example she gives – dressing the kid – I can see her point – as long as kid is clothed – let it go. BUT that’s an incredibly simplistic example. There is a right way to do most household tasks. Right way – as in not doing it that way causes property damage or ineffective cleaning or just generally are not as efficient. As someone else mentioned, if you don’t close the shower curtain – mildew is more likely to grow. Yes, you could let it go and replace the shower curtain more often. And you could continue to do that with everything in your life… but is that really the best solution? There are SO many examples cited here and in the MF document of issues where there is a clear right way and wrong way to do it. So to say just “let it go” and he’ll step up is dismissive and short sighted.

  • Mooza

    I have one comment – I find the term “emotional labour” sort of sexist. It’s not emotional, it’s intellectual labour. It’s basically office work – thinking of stuff and To Do’s and relations… just because mostly women do it does not make it emotional. It’s work, or even “intellectual or analytical work”, and… lets call it that way. Or is it just me?

    • Kaitlyn

      Yes, I think you’re right. Emotional labor does exist as an entity, but in my mind it has more to do with listening, understanding and (sometimes) managing people’s emotions, providing emotional support, sorting out conflicts, and having conversations to prevent and repair relationship damage. There can be overlap with the “home economics” practical and intellectual work… But it’s also separate. That said, I think being the designated “house brain”, constantly charged with directing others and responsible for remembering details, relies on both realms.

      • ART

        “relies on both realms” – agreed. There’s the doing of the task, the knowing that the task is on the list…and honestly, the understanding why the task is on the list. Certainly, I think much of the last bit is emotional. And depending on the task, the other pieces can be as well.

    • Jess

      I agree and disagree, if that makes sense.

      The organizing, to-do listing, reminding, appointment scheduling, etc. is totally flat out Management and Household Management is very apt. It is a skill.

      The social aspect – the setting up dinners with friends, the staying in touch with extended family regularly, the making plans to celebrate birthdays is emotional care taking to me. That’s guarding of relationships and I’m not very good at it.

    • z

      I agree that a lot of it is managerial. But I also feel like they’re linked. For me at least, being in a well-run household where the most mundane of needs are anticipated and planned for, helps me feel emotionally secure. Things like remembering someone’s favorite birthday meal is emotional, but there’s also a managerial component to making it actually happen.

    • Amy March

      I think there is a distinction between housework and purely emotional tasks, but I can’t get on board with calling cleaning a toilet intellectual or analytical work.

      • Mooza

        Oh absolutely. Cleaning a toilet is manual work,or just work. But it’s also highly visible, unlike intellectual/emotional labour, which is not the cleaning itself, but remembering it needs to be cleaned, stocking the necessary equipment, keeping an eye on supplies to make sure they are available… and sometimes also assigning the job (to bf/husband) and then supervising to make sure it gets done properly (by nagging, begging, pleading, communicating…). It takes up mental capacity.

    • JC

      You’re right that the current topics being discussed here aren’t the most “emotional” of labor tasks. But after last Christmas, we had to have a talk about how I buy presents for all birthdays and holidays for both of our families, and he only buys them for his own. That is the emotional labor of joining a family, and he wasn’t doing it.

    • Nameless Wonders

      I think I disagree because housework ends up being emotional to me because ultimately I will feel unhappy or happy based on how it goes. I am not devoid of emotion while doing intellectual labor. And the stress of the labor will definitely invoke feelings. I feel like the differentiation in a hetero model relationship is that the work and the stress is emotional for women, but not for men (it doesn’t typically occur to them to be emotional invested in this kind of labor).

    • eating words

      I think “emotional labor” is only sexist if you think emotional considerations are less important than ‘intellectual’ ones, which is itself a sexist assumption. I agree that a lot of EL is also intellectual. But there is a huge emotional component to managing relationships and feelings, which so much EL is.

  • Winter

    Not sure if this is up-thread, but I wonder about emotional labour/division of labour etc. when I am (for the foreseeable future as we have 3 young kids) at home with the kids being a stay at home mom. He works outside the home, is supporting us all financially and I at home with the kids (my choice. He would rather I was out working) doing the cooking, cleaning (with some outside help), laundry etc.

    In this type of relationship a large part of me feels like it would be unfair (to him) for us to divide the emotional labour equally, since I feel that is in my job description of being at home.

    Thoughts?

    I should add, I want to and am happy to do many of the jobs (buying presents, writing cards, taking care of our pictures, etc.).

    I wonder though, if/when I go back to work, what are the chances it would go to 50/50. Low, I imagine.

    • Carolyn S

      I think this is one of those cases of “what works for our family is right for us.” I think it makes sense that if one parent is at home they do end up carrying a bit more of the emotional labour, same as they end up carrying a bit more of the household labour. From watching my friends, it becomes extremely tricky to reassign this labour when the parent who had been home begins to work again. You need to be extremely diligent and vocal about restructuring all labour. One of my friend’s husbands hasn’t cleaned the house in 7 years, and she is now planning to go back to work and her first thought was just “I don’t know how the house will get cleaned” not “we need to restructure how house cleaning gets done.”

    • z

      I think the big question is does he do emotional labor for you? Like, does he remember your birthday, plan dates, basically pull his weight emotionally as a partner? I think it’s fine to put one person in charge of All Gift-Giving To Others if that makes sense, but it’s not ok to check out of the marriage.

      • Cellistec (formerly Lizzie)

        Well, and sometimes the opposite of pulling your weight emotionally isn’t “checking out of the marriage,” but just not knowing that there’s weight to be pulled. I mean, I didn’t even realize emotional labor was a thing until reading Stephanie’s post this morning, so I don’t fault my husband for not seeing it in our marriage either. Education for all!

    • Amy March

      I agree with you- if someone is staying home, then I think they are signing up for the job of managing the bulk of the emotional labor. Not all of it- he can still write cards to his family, he can certainly be expected to help out when he is home, but particularly when he’d rather you not be staying at home, I think you are taking on responsibility for the bulk of these tasks. And I would say it is extremely unlikely it will ever go back to 50/50.

      • z

        Yes, I do think it’s very tough to get back to 50/50 here. These habits, once they become entrenched, are hard to break. Especially if your partner does not actually want to change! Its something to be very cautious about when choosing to stay home.

        • Louise

          Yes, I can attest to this from the perspective of the continually working partner. My husband took two years off from his career while I pursued an opportunity in India. He took care of ALL the household labor, physical, emotional, etc., because my job was insanely demanding. I mean he was your stereotypical homemaker down to packing my lunch and delivering it to me if I forgot it. Now, we are back in the states, and it has been a big adjustment for me, and we are definitely not at 50/50. He still plans and cooks all our meals, and manages the money (though I’m pretty involved with this- he has never used credit before and I have some experience, so we agree on spending goals together and he makes sure we carrythem out), and he makes household phone calls. I do most of the gift buying, make more long term plans, and we both listen while the other sorts out decisions. I try never to assume he’s got a plan for dinner, though he always does, because I will happily take responsibility if he’s tired of doing it all. But like you said, it’s a habit now.

    • emilyg25

      It’s not a problem if it works for you. If it stops working, you can reevaluate and adjust.

  • CMT

    I am really tempted to send this to my ex-boyfriend, who Could. Not. Get. that I did all of the emotional (and often physical!) labor. He still doesn’t get it and blames me for ruining our “perfect” relationship by breaking up with him. I would never bring it up, since it’s got nothing to with our lives now, but I still have the desire to tell him how bad he was at this!

  • Banee

    Late to this party, but what about when you’ve asked and asked and asked your husband to write 5 of the thank you cards for the wedding (because they are for people who are more explicitly his friends) and he still hasn’t sent them out, 5 months later? Is this a “suck it up despite setting a potential precedent” exception? Or fair for him to swallow crow on that? (Even though I’m sure I’LL get blamed for it, which is really why I’m digging my heels in anyway)

    • ART

      Have you had the conversation about how likely it is that they’re waiting for a thank you card from his wife, and that you believe you will bear the blame (don’t worry, I believe you…sigh)?

    • Poppy

      Do you tend to mention the thank you notes in passing? Have you ever been clear with him about why it matters that he do this? I think you need to sit down with him without distractions, maybe over dinner or drinks or something, look him in the eye, and tell him why this matters. “I know this might not sound like a big deal to you, but I really need you to step up and do this because XYZ. It’s important because XYZ” might work better than a casual reminder out of context as you’re running out the door.

    • z

      If it’s his friends, I would try to just let it go. What makes you think they will blame you? That may not be the culture of the friendship. Personally, I think thank-you-notes are super duper important and always write them right away, but that’s not how everyone rolls! I only twist my husband’s arm about writing to people who care, mostly my mother. And for his side of the family, I sometimes casually mention like this: “Joe is procrastinating on his thank-you-notes, but we love the vase you sent us!” That allows me to express thanks and acknowledge that the note is absent, but still keeps the actual writing responsibility on him.

    • Nameless Wonders

      If this was me… they’re his friends. I’d drop it. If they do blame you, be clear about how it was his responsibility and shrug it off. But I never send Thank You cards anyway :D

  • What do you do when your partner cares less about having a clean and tidy space than you do?

    My boyfriend does 50% of the housework… that he thinks needs doing. It’s 25% of what I think needs doing. We don’t live together and I want to wait until we are married to take that step; I don’t care how he does things at his place.

    I’ve told him about habits that bother me, and have asked he make changes. He often forgets, so I feel like I’m training him. On bad days, I might nag or resent.

    As an example: I always close the shower curtain after a shower (prevents mildew, hides clutter). I explained my preference to him. It took a bunch of open curtains and reminders for the habit to stick.

    I’m glad he does this now, but where does it end? Honey, wipe the counter when you leave crumbs on it. Honey, squeeze out the sponge rather than leaving it wet in the bottom of the sink. Honey, close the kitchen cupboard when you’re done getting something out of it, and definitely before you leave the kitchen. Honey, pick up your water glasses strewn around the house at the end of the day.

    Persistent tidying up after another grown human can create emotional repetitive strain injuries. And yet I don’t want him to feel like he’s walking on eggshells attempting to accommodate my preferences.

    How do I determine when I should ask him to change a habit and when I’m littering our floor with eggshells? If I’ve asked once and reminded once, should I just do the task myself if it’s important to me?

    • Elizabeth

      I guess there are two important things to remember. One is that it takes more than once or twice doing something to form a habit. So your goal together is for him to get to the point where he recognizes it should be done even if he’s not necessarily something he’s doing automatically. Which means there will be open curtains for a while, but as long as he can recognize they should be fixed it’s an important step. (Because even if he doesn’t close it as soon as he finishes his shower, by going back and doing it he is building that habit — this is a specific example because it’s something I learned (about the mildew) and decided to change in myself and it took me a while to remember/form it even though it was self-initiated.) So I don’t know what advice other than making sure that you two are on the same page about you feeling comfortable in the space.

    • Nameless Wonders

      Just doing it yourself leaves a lot to chance. You may end up doing a lot of housework as a result and feeling unduly stressed. It’s important to talk about these things, even trivial chores, to find a balance that works for the two of you. You need to know where is a reasonable limit (things that are not really a big deal) and he needs to know that some things that are ignored/forgotten make you feel disrespected (I’m assuming). Also, I’d suggest you read that MetaFilter Emotional Labor document (it’s in the comments, but also comes up on Google).

    • emmers

      Part of this is figuring out what’s a deal breaker for you (i.e. no trash on the floor), and what’s a preference (like the shower curtain). And part of this is acknowledging that you have different standards, and you’ll both need to compromise. I’m the messier partner. There are things that my husband has asked me to do, that I try to be careful about because they’re important to him, like wringing out the sponge, and tidying before guests come over. But I also do have some mess (like a pile of blankets and clothes by my side of the bed), that I know he wouldn’t have if he lived alone, and it would honestly stress me out if he was always pressuring me to pick that up, or tidying it himself. So, it will take time, talks, and compromise. For us it’s been worth it, so I hope you guys can work it out, too!

      • CMT

        I’ve gotten so much better about compromising about these kinds of things as I’ve gotten older. There were little things with my ex that I could not let go (things like the shower curtain) that I’ve realized are not worth the confrontation with my current partner. Although it does help that current boyfriend is awesome at these kinds of things, particularly cleaning and generally being a sanitary human being.

    • Thank you so much for your input. Feeling less stressed about it already.

      I know it’s going to require a lot of communication and compromise. I struggle with knowing how to determine what is a deal breaker and what is a preference. Because the things are so little, each is really a preference. But cumulatively, they add up into a deal breaker. Gotta keep my expectations in check.

      • Lisa

        I feel like a lot of the stuff you mentioned also can change with time. I don’t know if my husband will ever be one to realize the house needs to be vacuumed and initiate the cleaning himself. When he lived in his college apartment, it only got swept twice in the year he was there, and it was because I was so disgusted with it that I did it myself after much begging and pleading. Now if we’re cleaning and if I mention that the floors need to be swept, he’ll pull the vacuum out and help. It might be the years of training or a natural maturation process over the almost 6 years we’ve been together, but it adds up to a person who is helping and does remember things at least 50% of the time now.

        • That is so refreshing to hear. My guy is more absentminded than disinterested in change, so I think he can get there in time…

        • emmers

          I’m kinda like this, too! I’m perfectly happy to clean if he’ll be cleaning too.

    • Also, how long does this kind of domestic adjustment take? We’re going to continue communicating about it a lot, I’m sure, but I’d be curious to know how long it took others to find their domestic footing (particularly in cases with different mess tolerances).

      I feel like I should specify: I am not an obsessively clean person. In all of my other relationships, I have been the messier one. I don’t think he really realizes he is such a messy person.

  • Ugh, if there was a version of this for knowing where things belong in our apartment, I would be all over it. Unfortunately, I have not come up with a good strategy for this. I just end up frustrated that my husband somehow doesn’t know where the batteries live after seven years living together and two years in this specific apartment/organizational system. Any suggestions??

    • Is he asking you where things are without looking? Have you talked to him about how this bothers you and feels (careless/inconsiderate/lazy/insert other feeling)?

      • YUP. Totally. I did talk to him about it recently – I don’t think he’s realized how much he’s done it. One thing that I’m going to do, since we’re moving soon, is engage him more in our unpacking/organizing. Hopefully that will help things stick in his brain!

    • eating words

      My wife does this with her personal items. And yet somehow I often know where her phone, eyeglasses, or necklace are. Maybe in your case, just refuse to answer and make him do the thinking/searching?

      • I think that might be a strategy – and weirdly, often I DON’T know where the things are that he’s looking for! I just suggest that he look one or two random places, and it turns out that they are there…

  • AGCourtney

    augh, of course, the day I don’t check APW and I miss an EL discussion. Well, Stepanie: <33333333 for writing this. I look forward to seeing what others have discussed!

  • KEA1

    OK…I am super late to the thread, and this is a bit of a “water under bridge” situation because the relationship that prompted this question has ended. BUT in case I find myself in the future with a man who already has a kid: what do you do when the guy will talk a blue streak about how he’s the father, he’s so important, it’s so important for him to have this kid and have custody time etc…but then expects you to take care of the kid when he actually *does* have custody? In my case, this was especially bad because the guy refused to enforce boundaries with his kid and wouldn’t hold the kid accountable for things like violations of my privacy. But he’d also turn around and undermine my efforts to actually build a relationship with the kid. And when I tried to express my concerns about any of this, he would yell at me for not being “compassionate” enough toward the kid and not being “supportive” enough of him as a parent. He played the “stepparents don’t get a say” card WAY more than I think was appropriate…but because I’m not actually a parent myself, I have no good reference point on where that line should be drawn. Sigh.

    • Amy March

      You know what you do! You break up with him, because he is terrible.

      • KEA1

        That I did. And in most respects it didn’t take long to realize how much better off I am…but this part is sortof the one area where I’ve struggled the most with second-guessing myself. So thank you, both of you, because this bit of perspective really helps.

    • z

      TBH, the only thing I would do is break up with him. This sounds way beyond unfixable. He is not going to make any progress with his parenting skills if he avoids spending time with his child, for Pete’s sake. And if he doesn’t want to spend time with his child, then he doesn’t really want to be a better parent anyway. All talk of parenting technique is irrelevant if he doesn’t actually want to be a parent at all. You can’t fix that. Run far away.

  • Keri

    Is this why it’s so exhausting to hear “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it?” I’ve tried to explain before that that figuring out and telling is work too, but it never seemed to really go anywhere. Thanks for this – I think it’ll be helpful going forward.

    • ART

      Yes! And when the conversation eventually gets around to “YOU ARE A GROWN ASS MAN IF YOU CAN’T TELL THAT THE SINK IS DIRTY I DON’T EVEN” that seems to go worse than the preventative “keeper of the list” discussion. IDK why ;)

      • Keri

        Followed by, “YOU’RE RIGHT, I’M TERRIBLE,” spiral, spiral, silence, sulk, shopping?, and then, inexplicably, Game of Thrones. I suppose the system has a few kinks to work out still.

  • Karen

    Why did they change the title of this post twice? 1) What happened when I stopped reminding my husband about Every. Damn. Thing. 2) What happened when I stopped being my family’s calendar. 3) What Happened When I Stopped Playing Secretary for My Family.

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    Oh my goodness, the scheduling. A shared Google calendar has seriously improved this aspect of my relationship. That way, instead of repeating myself or getting frustrated, I assume that my husband knows what is going on and vice versa. And if he asks something like, when are you leaving for that conference again?, I say, I don’t know, it’s on the calendar :). Granted, we both already used Google calendars for work, etc., so the transition was pretty smooth.

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    And thank you, for putting words to the toll I feel for keeping track of all this stuff going on. My partner is always asking me to relax, but doesn’t pick up the share of planning, remembering, etc. maybe if I describe it like this, he’ll be able to!

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  • Rachel

    I remember observing this as a kid. My mom works at a hospital, so obviously her shifts varied. My dad, one year, was in charge of picking me up from Confirmation class every other Monday night. This was before the time of cell phones, and inevitably, every single time, I’d end up alone at the church with the pastor who hated me, trying to get ahold of my dad on the landline. And every time, he’d simply say “I lost track of time!”

  • Theresa Williams

    Hello, I am Theresa Williams After being in relationship with Anderson
    for years, he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him
    back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I
    have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he
    refused. I explained my problem to my friend and she suggested that I
    should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to
    bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no
    choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there
    was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my
    ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and
    surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I
    was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so
    sorry for everything that happened that he wanted me to return to him,
    that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him that was how we
    started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise
    that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help
    to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful
    spell caster who helped me with my own problem. His email: drogunduspellcaster@gmail.com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or any other Case.
    1) Love Spells
    2) Lost Love Spells
    3) Divorce Spells
    4) Marriage Spells
    5) Binding Spells
    6) Breakup Spells
    7) Banish a past Lover.
    8.) You want to be promoted in your office
    9) want to satisfy your lover
    Contact this great man if you are having any problem for a lasting solution
    through drogunduspellcaster@gmail.com

  • michele wilson

    Hello readers, My name is Alice from Dallas Texas in the United States. I wanna say a big thank you to this great spell caster called Azuliko. I have never in my entire life believe in spellcasting, but this servant of the great ancient seven demons of Africa has proved to me that online spell casting is real. I was so devastated and confused when my husband threw me and the kids out of his house cos of a lady he meant at his boss 60th birthday party. I tried all i could to get my husband back but nothing was working. I tried three different spell casters but none could help. They all lied to me and made away with my fucking USD. One faithful day i came across a testimony posted by one Mrs Phillips from Canada, she narrated how Dr Azuliko brought her bf back to her after one year of break up. So i decided to give Dr Azuliko a trial too. I contacted via email address at(Azulikosolutiontemple@yahoo.com) and told him my problem. He then replied to my mail immediately and told me to worry no more. He asked for my name, photo, my husband name, photo and our country of location which i provided immediately.Dr Azuliko helped me cast a very strong return love spell on my man and in just two days my husband returned back to me crying and begging me to forgive him and accept him back. Everything was just like a magic, all thanks to Dr Azuliko and his great seven demons. If you also want to witness the great magic of this great priest then simply contact him immediately via his email address Azulikosolutiontemple@yahoo.com or whatsapp him directly on his personal mobile, +2347063258525

  • michele wilson

    Hello readers, My name is Alice from Dallas Texas in the United States. I wanna say a big thank you to this great spell caster called Azuliko. I have never in my entire life believe in spellcasting, but this servant of the great ancient seven demons of Africa has proved to me that online spell casting is real. I was so devastated and confused when my husband threw me and the kids out of his house cos of a lady he meant at his boss 60th birthday party. I tried all i could to get my husband back but nothing was working. I tried three different spell casters but none could help. They all lied to me and made away with my fucking USD. One faithful day i came across a testimony posted by one Mrs Phillips from Canada, she narrated how Dr Azuliko brought her bf back to her after one year of break up. So i decided to give Dr Azuliko a trial too. I contacted via email address at(Azulikosolutiontemple@yahoo.com) and told him my problem. He then replied to my mail immediately and told me to worry no more. He asked for my name, photo, my husband name, photo and our country of location which i provided immediately.Dr Azuliko helped me cast a very strong return love spell on my man and in just two days my husband returned back to me crying and begging me to forgive him and accept him back. Everything was just like a magic, all thanks to Dr Azuliko and his great seven demons. If you also want to witness the great magic of this great priest then simply contact him immediately via his email address Azulikosolutiontemple@yahoo.com or whatsapp him directly on his personal mobile, +2347063258525….

  • Jaybee Randiel

    my business was searching for Acord 25 yesterday and came across an online platform that has an online forms database . If you are requiring Acord 25 as well , here’s a https://goo.gl/1vtpf0

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  • Elizabeth Taylor

    Hello, my name is Elizabeth, i was going through an article and found out about a man called Dr Bomoh. i have been suffering from breakup issues with different guys. i had to contact the spell caster.Steve was on the verge of leaving me for another woman. but i stayed positive and believe i could have him back and make him stay. lo and behold Dr Bomoh helped me.Steve and i are getting married soon. Dr Bomoh is such a nice man, he also helped me stop my cardiac problem. Thanks to him and thanks to God for the gift given to him. If you have any problem whatsoever, contact him on this email: godbomohspirit@gmail.com

    Contact him for the following and see the great work of Dr Bomoh:
    (1)If you want your ex back.
    {2}If you are searching for a job
    (3)You want to be promoted in your office.
    (4)You want women/men to run after you.
    (5)If you want a child.
    (6)You want to be rich.
    (7)you want to get Marriage Spells
    (8)Remove Sickness from your body Spells
    (9)Business spell
    (10)Lottery winning numbers.
    (11)Bring Back Lost Love
    and many more…….

  • Elizabeth Taylor

    Hello everyone, my name is Elizabeth and I am one of the persons that have benefited from Dr. BOMOH Love Spell. Dr. BOMOH appeared in the middle of my life when all hope was lost. I gave up on life and thought the best way to cure my broken heart was to take my life after I tried several processes to reunite with my husband who dumped me after two years of our marriage for another lady but none of my effort worked. I made up my mind to continue with my suicide plan before a strange spirit came over me like a rain and ministered to me to search online. After seeing so much talks about Dr. Bomoh Temple, I reluctantly searched and found amazing testimonies and recommendations about him which encouraged me to contact him via his email. He replied and asked me to wipe away my tears and quit any act to take my life; he said that my case is solvable after consulting his Oracle. Well, here I am today thanking Dr. BOMOH for saving my life and bringing back my Husband. We are so happy today and happier than we have ever been. I am so grateful for being among the people sharing this testimony. Contact him on this E-mail: godbomohspirit@gmail.com
    Contact him for the following and see the great work of Dr Bomoh:
    (1)If you want your ex back.
    {2}If you are searching for a job
    (3)You want to be promoted in your office.
    (4)You want women/men to run after you.
    (5)If you want a child.
    (6)You want to be rich.
    (7)you want to get Marriage Spells
    (8)Remove Sickness from your body Spells
    (9)Business spell
    (10)Lottery winning numbers.
    (11)Bring Back Lost Love
    and many more…….

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  • Lenise Williams

    My Husband broke up with me 3 months ago and left me heartbroken, this made me sick and my problem became very very difficult and it made me almost gave up but after the love spell from Robinson Buckler, my relationship was restored instantly, I was happy that the outcome was fantastic, only 3 days after [dr.mac@yahoo. com] started it all. Never in my life have I thought this would work so fast. My man reconcile with me and he started acting completely different, we make love everyday, I feel happy once again, and like never before. It felt so good to have my Husband back again, Thanks to DR MACK………………………………………