Invisible burden on women’s shoulders: what is the psychological burden?


Even in the most modern families, where household chores are equally divided between couples, usually only one person does most of the “thinking” … This is also known as “mental burden”. What is mental stress, how does it affect women; Keep reading to find out more.

What is mental stress?

Mental workload is a term used to refer to the invisible labor that usually falls on women’s shoulders in managing the home and family.

Mental load, also called cognitive load, is not related to physical tasks, but rather the control of those tasks. Having an endless to-do list in your head, remembering what needs to be done and when, explaining all the tasks to the appropriate family members and making sure they are actually completed… All these duties fall under the concept of mental workload.

How does mental burden affect women?

According to experts, mental work is a different and sometimes more strenuous type of work than physical tasks like cooking and cleaning. This type of housework is often underestimated and also takes up a lot of time and energy. In other words, women are often frowned upon for taking on these jobs.

Lucia Chichiolla, a psychologist at Oklahoma State University who studies the effects of mental stress on mothers, says:

“I think it has become a topic of discussion in recent years because men are more involved in childcare and home care. Even though women do less physical laundry, they are still responsible for making sure they don’t run out of detergent, that all dirty clothes are washed, that clean towels are always available, and that children have clean socks. After all, they realize that even if they share physical responsibilities with members of their family, they carry a mental load around the house, and this mental burden is very heavy … “

Research by Ciciolla and colleagues shows that mental burden is associated with pressure on maternal well-being and decreased relationship satisfaction. For example, about 9 out of 10 mothers in subsidiaries believe that they are solely responsible for family planning; she says the burden makes them feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and unable to take the time to care for themselves.

“Tell me if you need help!”

Does this phrase sound familiar to you?

One of the clearest signs of mental stress is that a woman will often tell her partner, “Tell me if you need help,” when it comes to cooking dinner, cleaning the kids, or any other aspect of housework.

Or usually after a woman has expressed how tired or overwhelmed she is by the weight of all her affairs, her partner tells her something like: “I would help you if you would tell me.”

If a man expects some action from his partner, then he sees in her the mistress of the household. So if he wants us to tell him what to do, then he really refuses to take on his share of the mental burden.

Women need help not only with household chores. They should also be relieved of the responsibility of knowing what needs to be done and making sure you do your part.

Organizing and planning is a full-time job that people get paid to do. The expectation that women will take on this role in addition to half of the physical work means that they actually take on more than half of the housework. Invisible labor remains labor.

How is the mental load distributed?

What mental stress means, now you know in detail. So how can you share this burden with your partner? Talk about it first!

1. Speak clearly

Talk frankly and directly with him about what mental stress is, how it affects you, and why you want to change it.

Also make sure you have a real conversation and not just a cry for help when you’re nervous. In order for your partner to truly decide to change, they need to understand what mental stress is and how it affects you.

2. Include planning and management tasks when distributing household chores.

Splitting work in half helps some couples, but often this is not enough, and as a result, one person feels more exhausted. This is due to the fact that the mental burden is often assigned to one person, even if everything is “equal” on paper.

You shouldn’t just share physical tasks like cooking, cleaning, and putting the kids to bed. You must also separate and account for mental tasks such as planning, delegating, scheduling, memorizing, and keeping score.

It is difficult to properly separate many of these aspects of mental work, but the key is to make sure that both people are equally involved in these processes. If your partner tends to carry most of the mental load, you should take the lead in these mental tasks until both partners feel more balanced. So you need to keep talking about it with each other. So over time, you can really feel that the burden is shared equally between you.

3. Let go of control

Oddly enough, women tend to do more housework when they live with a partner than when they live alone. According to the researchers, this is due to the fact that women feel the pressure of their “gender role” when living with a partner.

Thus, sharing the mental burden requires a change for women as well. For example, when it comes to housework, women can often be in the habit of being watchmen. This means that they can automatically monitor, criticize or correct their partner while he is doing chores.

Whereas, you must be able to trust your partner in order to get things done. If you want to do something a certain way, try explaining why it’s important to you. Formulate such requests as small details that concern you, and not as criticism.

4. Keep talking

Unfortunately, you cannot solve the problem of equal distribution of mental load in one conversation. Learning this will probably take time, a lot of talking. But it’s definitely worth it. Try to be patient with each other. Be sure to communicate regularly to find out how things are going, what works and what doesn’t, and how you both feel.

This may interest you: Women are getting more unhappy every year: What to do?

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