Partners sharing the mental and emotion load

Does the sharing of the mental and emotional load feel unequal in your relationship?


The mental and emotional energy that couples put into their relationship can have an exhausting impact on them. It takes conscious effort to maintain a healthy balance between their relationship, work, home-life and family commitments.  

Some ways how mental and emotional load shows up in a relationship:

  • Domestic duties.  These are things that keep your household and family going eg grocery shopping, cleaning, appointments, paying bills, organising family, mowing the lawn and the list goes on.
  • Work hours.  The work hours determine how available each partner is to contribute towards their home-life, family interactions/commitments and domestic chores.
  • Quality time.  The enthusiasm and the way each partner contributes towards making plans to spend quality time together.
  • Mental/physical conditions.  Partners may have other conditions that may impact their availability.

Unequal mental and emotional load pressure on a relationship

Where there is an inequality in the contribution of each partner being actively involved in sharing the mental and emotional load of maintaining house-duties, family commitments and quality time together, it can lead to feeling; overwhelmed, resentful, unappreciated and/or unvalued.  

Partners who avoid having a conversation about these areas often find themselves quicker to get angry with each other, become more anxious and become disconnected.   To change this cycle, a conversation with your partner needs to happen.

Having the conversation with your partner around sharing mental and emotional load

Partners may hold back from bringing this up with their partner for different reasons.  Maybe they may feel it’s easier that way to keep the peace, or they may not trust their partner to do things or that they are reliable to help them out.  

Possibly they may be concerned of their partner’s defensive response, or that their partner may tell them they are over-reacting or may be concerned that the conversation will go into a competitive point-scoring of who does what.  

So how do I start the conversation with my partner?

Select an appropriate time

Choose a time when you and your partner are both calm and you sense your partner will be ready to listen to you.

Begin with ‘I’ conversation

Begin with expressing from your personal viewpoint.  Being with something like: ‘I feel…’, ‘I think…’, ‘What’s coming up for me lately…’ followed by your point of concern.  Don’t start a sentence with ‘you’ as it can come across as attacking

Example: ‘I feel this is really important for us and I’d really appreciate if you can hear me out’.  ‘My intention for us is to work through this together’. ‘If I come across critical or aggressive please let me know, so I can say it in a more caring way’.  Focus on resolving the areas you want to improve on rather than be critical or angry.

Acknowledge your participation

Objectively and calmly express what you contribute and how it’s made you feel (eg overwhelmed, tired etc).  Express what you would like some help with.

Acknowledge your partner’s participation

Objectively and calmly express your appreciation for what your partner does to contribute.

Listen to each other and ask questions

To avoid becoming defensive, really listen to understand each other’s perspectives.  If either one of you become defensive, it’s more likely from a place of hurt, perceived lack of care, misjudgements or feeling like either of you are being attacked. Slow the conversation down and use ‘we / us’ language so it allows you both to stay on track and work through it together.

Example ‘we are getting no where when we do this defensive talk, can we slow it down and really understand each other, it would really help us both’.

If things escalate 

If the conversation starts to escalate, call it out and ask to have a break so both of you can reflect and process on what is being expressed and come back together with a suggested solution. 

Example: ‘I feel like we / I are getting off track and becoming defensive, let’s have a a break so we can think about it and come back in around 15 minutes to have another chat about it’.

Proactive changes towards sharing the mental and emotional load with your partner

1.  Express appreciation

Let your partner know how much you value their contribution and/or their willingness to make changes towards the betterment of your relationship.  Gratitude and appreciation between partners helps creates a stronger foundation of closeness and connection.

2.  Make a list

Identify the tasks both of you are prepared to collaborate on together that allows you both to share the mental and emotional load of doing the house-hold duties (shopping, cooking, cleaning, outdoor chores etc), organising the family/children commitments and allocating quality time together.

3.  Agree to let each other know if either of you drop the ball 

Give each other consent to;

– let your partner know if they are not doing what they were committed to on the list

– to give your partner plenty of advance notice if you will not be able to do something you’ve committed to on the list. This allows your partner to pitch in and help out. This can be reciprocated back to your partner in future.

4.  Revisit over time

Situations change and life happens, so allow yourselves time to revisit what is on your list and collaborate together if/when you need to change things, but still allowing you both to equally share in a way that works for you both.

If you are unable to work through towards making healthier changes, consider having Couples Coaching to help you both learn skills to communicate your needs and come to a place of equal sharing of the mental and emotional needs within your relationship, home-life and family commitments.

Need help to balance up the relationship?

If you are seeking to balance the relationship to a healthier and happier connection, work with Linda Kelly, Relationship Coach. 

About Linda …

Linda is a Relationship Coach and Counsellor. Having worked with hundreds of couples and individuals over the years, Linda understands the complexities and challenges that couples experience today. 

Linda’s blend of coaching and counselling approach allows her to be more hands-on, supportive and directive, helping people to achieve results within themselves and in their relationship.

Linda Kelly Relationship Coach Couples Counsellor Brisbane Australia America Europe

Linda provides ‘Couples Coaching’‘Women’s Coaching’ and ‘Men’s Coaching’.

Linda also offers a ’12 week Couples Connection Program‘. This helps couples to rebuild their relationship, learn more about themselves and their partner, adapt new strategies towards closeness and live a life that is more aligned to their values and needs. If you want to know more or to book in your spot, book your Connection Call click here.

Based within the gorgeous Redcliffe Peninsula region, Brisbane Australia, Linda offers in-person and online Zoom sessions, both Australia-wide and Internationally.

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