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to resent the 'mental load'

(305 Posts)
newnameoldme Fri 02-Jun-17 10:19:13

i just read the mental load and it gave a name to what i always feel and complain of.. why I and all the other women i know, even those with partners who take on their fair share of parenting voluntarily - we still bear the responsibility of this weight of constantly having to think about everything.
why is everything only our concerns? I resent it both because it's on my back and in my head every minute of the day whilst men are me are largely unfettered by this mental load. I resent that freedom they have!
It's isolating to bear the burden of all this stuff and the resentment overtime poisons relationships.
Do women naturally care more or do we have no choice as men opt out of being bothered by the minutiae of life

anonymice Fri 02-Jun-17 10:22:36

no of course we don't naturally care more. We are socialised into it. It stinks.

anonymice Fri 02-Jun-17 10:22:52

YANBU by the way

AperolOnIce Fri 02-Jun-17 10:24:47

It's because we allow it! It's not easy to let it go but let it go you must. Believe me - nobody will die. As long as someone else is stepping up then nobody else is going to volunteer are they - but if things grind to a halt, stuff stops happening etc - in other words - consequences grin

Anyway - it is entirely possible to change this. I know this is true because I did it. Nobody did die but it was a battle for a while!

DirtyChaiLatte Fri 02-Jun-17 10:26:24

I think women have been sold this lie of 'having it all', when in fact it's turned into 'doing it all'.

At least years ago most women didn't have the burden of full time jobs as well as parenting. Now, we're expected to do it all whereas a lot of men pretty much only focus on work and do the chores their wives nag them to do!

BossaDad Fri 02-Jun-17 10:28:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DirtyChaiLatte Fri 02-Jun-17 10:28:57

I didn't say but YANBU.

I've been having the same conversation with my DH for 15 years and I think he only recently really got the message.

Wormulonian Fri 02-Jun-17 10:31:07

Yes socialisation.

However, although it is almost always women who pick up the "mental load" it isn't exclusive. My Dsis DH deals with all the family stuff (he does childcare pick ups, shopping, organising holidays, bills,ferrying to activities etc and took a lower paid job with flexitime so that my Dsis could pursue promotion, travel the world to conferences etc) in a classic reversal they are having some disagreements of late as he feels the "mental load" falls on him and that it should be more shared.

Witchitywoo Fri 02-Jun-17 10:36:24

We have no choice, that's my belief. I divorced DH because of this exact problem. He decided to shut down completely with every task behind the front door. Even if I asked him to help it would be when HE was ready to help. I remember talking to a friend about the lack of help from DH and she said, well ask him! But surely, if I can see something needs doing, why can't he see it??

I think society is still programmed to accept women as stay at home people and men to go out to earn and provide for their family. It's possibly so far entrenched into the collective psyche that changing it will be damn near impossible. I'm on my knees with my 'mental load' at the moment but no-one is helping and I don't think they ever will.

I always remember my mum saying, you're the central cog in the wheel. If you break down and stop working for whatever reason, then the household will fall apart. And it's true. 😟

EmilyBiscuit Fri 02-Jun-17 10:38:24

I have a similar problem with 'decision fatigue'. Say exDP wanted to cook dinner. He would ask what I wanted, what do we have in, should he go to the shop, where is the bread knife... His turn to do some cleaning it would be: shall I start with the kitchen, do we have any more washing up liquid, where is the mop... Endless small decisions which felt like death by a thousand paper cuts.

As women (ime) still tend to be the organisers at home, we are still the ones making the household related decisions. And it can be exhausting, even if each decision is small by itself.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Fri 02-Jun-17 10:47:22

No choice here. I was just about to start a thread about how often other people just have to internally sigh and get on with it because their partners are so bad at multi-tasking.

My partner can't visualize what's happening in two weeks (or 20 minutes), even if it's something he's really looking forward to. He is utterly incapable of keeping a huge list of jobs in his head, reprioritizing every 10 mins as demands change. I am very good at that so I just sigh and get on with it. I'm not saying this is a male/female thing. For I'd it is the way things are. If I didn't do it it just wouldn't get done. I can't resent it because I know in this case he can't help it.

What I do resent is having my instructions not followed or argued with. He says to just tell him what to do because he can't visualize all this stuff, then either does other stuff for the next 20 mins, throwing us completely off schedule (20 mins counts when you have 3yo & twins) or argues about it. No! You think up what needs to be done and you get a say how it's done, otherwise just shut it and do as I say.


Picklepickle123 Fri 02-Jun-17 10:49:10

I think bearing the 'mental load' is a decision, and a choice. If your husband/partner chooses to act out and not share the management of your household, then it's about having a firm conversation about expectations.

For example, if I ask DH to put the bins out every week, I don't expect him to be reminded or ask me which bins are going out (recycling/rubbish). He is a professional at work and understands the meaning of being responsible for a task, therefore he can apply the same reasoning at home.

Certainly in generations gone by, women may have taken the bulk of household management, but in this day and age, you are only the change you choose to make.

On the flip side, if you want to take the whole mental load, then you should be able to do that too, without being micromanaged by DH/DP - once again, it's about setting up an arrangement that works for you.

I strongly believe some women are pre-conditioned to think that men can't do certain things - which is a little bit sexist really. It's a societal construct and needs to be dismissed.

Shoxfordian Fri 02-Jun-17 10:49:35

Yes it's very difficult not to fall into the trap of just doing it yourself because it's easier but I think the constant assumption that women will remember what to do and when it needs doing is a product of our sexist society

My friend lent me a book called Wifework which I think describes this issue

jamrock Fri 02-Jun-17 10:52:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MsVestibule Fri 02-Jun-17 10:52:48

I honestly think my DH and I would have divorced if we'd both continued to work full time. When I went back to work after my first maternity leave, I asked him to take responsibility for doing the washing. His response was 'that's fine. Just tell me when it needs doing'. FFS. I know I would have remained responsible for cooking, shopping, deciding who was doing the nursery dropoffs/pickups etc. (Luckily we had equally low standards of cleaning!) and I would have felt incredibly resentful.

Paffle Fri 02-Jun-17 10:53:32

I feel this. But otoh, my DH deals with all mending/replacing of broken taps/washers etc. He deals with all car maintenance, all bills, all financial stuff so I don't ever have to worry about that. So I think it probably works out about even (although I still feel as though I do more). We both work full time.

Cindbelly Fri 02-Jun-17 10:54:12

DH suffers with 'decision fatigue' too, it drives me mental! For example,
He does most of the cooking due to his hours at work and getting home earlier but we either have to wait till I get home from work to decide what we're having before he starts or I get an endless stream of food / shopping texts during the day.
He won't do a meal plan because that's 'boring' and restrictive. hmm

It's a recent thing too, we've been together 11 years but only in the last year he seems incapable of making plans or decisions without my say so first... I've no idea why it's started but if anyone has ideas on how to make it stop I'd love to hear

Fredella Fri 02-Jun-17 10:54:52

YANBU! I juggle everyone's calendars, ensure the DC have everything they need for school/clubs/everything else, and DH can't even remember what days I work or what we are doing next week... I have to remind him the night before if there is anything unusual he needs to be doing. It's so draining!

sizeofalentil Fri 02-Jun-17 10:54:56

My DH is the same.

I'm 10 weeks pg and cried in the shower last night because when I went to the fridge, we didn't have any yoghurt because "you should have known we'd run out. You saw me eating some this week and should have known I'd finish it." Rather than him actually tell me, or add it to the shopping list.

I've painted our kitchen wall and hallway in blackboard paint and bought packets and packets of chalk, so he just has to write it on the wall. But instead, I'm expected to keep a mental inventory of what he is eating.

I'm sick of jobs being 70% done, and loopholes being found so DH only has to do the bare minimum ("What, you said to take my rubbish to the kitchen when I went. You didn't say to put it in the bin…". "You asked me to change the bedsheets - you didn't say could I change the pillows and duvet too…")

And if he does help or does something like put up a shelf, he expects to be exempt from other tasks. Eg. He changed the bed sheets, so that means he doesn't have to close any cupboard doors when he's finished in the cupboard or pick up his socks this week.

I just feel like a nag the whole time, whereas he says I expect him to be a psychic and nothing he does is right. I just want him to think and do stuff without being asked. Like I am meant to.

EssentialHummus Fri 02-Jun-17 10:55:00


I had a proper stand-up row with DH about this, this week, after sending him the link to the Guardian cartoon. His response was, "Oh, but we both have stuff to do at home."

I've had it. I've had it with him waiting for instructions from me before doing anything even vaguely domestic, and then sometimes cocking up what I ask him to do.

I'm six months pregnant, managing the renovation of our next home, working, and stressed out of my eyeballs. I'd love to hand some of this over, but when I have, he's cocked it up - double-booked builders, arranged supplies to arrive two days after workmen etc. I can't even rely on him to fetch a pint of milk on the way back from the office.

I'm married to someone smart, able, sensitive and generally capable of analytical thinking. Why the cunting fuck does that not translate into semi-competence at home, and what can I/we do to change it?

Clg199 Fri 02-Jun-17 10:58:10

I don't have kids, but I do all the thinking for our household. DP spends weeks considering if he should change the broadband. And still expects help with it.

The lightbulb went in the bathroom the other day. "Where is your lightbulb box?" My lightbulb box? What? The cupboard next to the sink that holds spare lightbulbs as well as lots of other useful stuff? It's only related to me as I'm the only one that thinks ahead to buy stuff like that so I'm not weeing in the dark!

I feel like you've hit a bit of a nerve with me this morning...

fanfrickintastic Fri 02-Jun-17 10:59:38


I've stopped taking on the mental load now. DH is not happy - "why didn't you say we needed more x,y,z when I was at the shop?" me - "why didn't you notice we needed more x,y,z?" him - blank face.

It's meant thing haven't been done, bins don't go out as regularly, we often run out of shampoo, shower gel, food. But DH is slowly, very slowly starting pick up some of the mental load.

peaceout Fri 02-Jun-17 11:02:25

I'm married to someone smart, able, sensitive and generally capable of analytical thinking. Why the cunting fuck does that not translate into semi-competence at home, and what can I/we do to change it?
Because he doesn't want to be good at anything which (by social convention) is women's work, very little you can do unless he sees that it is in his interests to change

newnameoldme Fri 02-Jun-17 11:03:08

AperolOnIce I do agree we have to be careful not martyr ourselves by taking on the majority or responsibility for minutae and I warn friends with new babies not to take it all on, not to fall into the trap of believing only your way is the right way etc.. to leave the house and let dads find out how to do stuff their way and accept that they will do things differently to you.
but does your dh shoulder the constant mental juggling of random stuff - the family schedules, planning when and what to buy for gifts for parties dc invited to or the party bags and decorations for your own kids parties, the book bags, the playdate politics, the dentist appointments, the gymnastics/ ballet practice/ costumes, the bake sales, remembering the birthdays and important dates of everyone in extended family, laundry sorting/ stain removal - there are so many examples of traditionally womens domain. men don't seem to be concerned about getting whites whiter or making sure everything gets done

LBOCS2 Fri 02-Jun-17 11:05:31

There's a thread on this in Feminism too. I'll say here what I said there: DH shares the mental load with me, but he was a single parent to a toddler before we met. It goes to show that men are perfectly capable of doing it, they just don't. Whether that's because women take it on because they're just 'getting on with it' or internalised patriarchy or shirking menfolk I wouldn't want to guess, but they can do it.

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