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Carrying the Mental Load in Marriage- Wait, What?

Uplift and Connect Counseling couples mental load counseling

Marriage isn’t always a bed of roses. In fact, it can get challenging at times. Have you ever felt like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? As a working spouse, parent, homeowner, and community member in St. Louis, Missouri, you’re not alone in feeling this way. What is mental load all about? It’s the pressure of managing everything from planning birthdays to taking care of the grocery list, cleaning the house, organizing schedules, and managing finances. The mental load is a real thing, and it can affect your relationships and sense of connection to the world around you. It’s an invisible but heavy load that can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being.

While mental load isn’t a gender-specific issue, studies show that women often carry the bulk of the mental load. This is why understanding how to balance the load in your relationship can significantly improve your connection and strengthen your bond.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what mental load is, how it impacts your relationships, and ways you can alleviate the burden in your daily life.

What is Mental Load

Have you ever felt like you’re the only one carrying the burden of managing your home and family? Do you find yourself constantly juggling tasks, such as scheduling appointments, making grocery lists, or planning birthdays, while your partner is seemingly oblivious to it? You’re not alone. This invisible load is called the mental load, and it can be overwhelming and exhausting.

Mental load is real, even if it’s invisible. It’s the mental and emotional work that goes into managing a household, a family, and a relationship.  While it’s necessary work, carrying the load can take a toll on a person’s mental and physical health. The first step to reducing the load is to understand what it is, what’s involved, and the effects it can have on yourself and your partner.

The Impact of Mental Load on Relationships

The mental load can be a source of tension in relationships. It can lead to feelings of resentment, frustration, and even burnout. This unbalanced division of tasks can create a power imbalance in the relationship, where one partner holds more control than the other. It’s essential to recognize that the mental load affects both partners, and avoiding it could have disastrous consequences.

When one partner carries the majority of the mental load, it can strain the dynamic in a relationship. The person carrying the load may feel unsupported, unacknowledged, and burned out. The other partner may not be aware of the emotional toll the mental load takes, leading to a lack of empathy and support. Over time, this can lead to feelings of disconnection and even physical distance between partners.

Oftentimes, the other partner that might seem oblivious might actually really want to help but is not sure how. Or, when they do step in to help it might feel like it was not done right, up to par or timely enough. This Adds to the frustration for both partners as this is where we can get stuck.

My colleague, Anna Kisting, MS,  LPC, with Cozy Chair Counseling has noticed mental load show up in her practice and shared this with me,

“I work with so many parents, and moms in particular, who consistently feel absolutely exhausted. When we delve deeper into the underlying reasons for this, they often share the heavy mental load they carry. They love their kids and their partners but it’s just too much sometimes. Could someone else, for once, remember to RSVP to that birthday party or make that dentist appointment? But it never happens so we keep doing it all.

Sadly, this resentment toward the other partner is REAL and can damage our relationships. It’s hard to talk about because we don’t want to blame our partner or cause a fight but it’s so important to ask for help so that we can eventually EXPECT helpful support from our partners. Engaging in these conversations is great for us, great for our partners (who typically want to contribute) and great for our kids.”

Anna Kisting LPC Cozy Chair Counseling

Uplift and Connect Counseling couples mental load counseling

Ways to Alleviate Mental Load:

  • Share Responsibilities-

Sharing responsibilities is one of the most effective ways to reduce the mental load. It’s not just about dividing household chores equally; it’s about sharing the mental load that goes along with them. For example, planning a birthday party is not just about buying decorations and cake. It’s also about organizing the guest list, sending invitations, and coordinating schedules. Sharing these responsibilities can make a significant difference in reducing the load. Make a list of all the tasks that need to be done and divide them based on each person’s strengths and interests.

  • Communicate Openly

Communication is essential in any relationship, especially when it comes to mental load. It’s essential to communicate your needs, expectations, and feelings with your partner. If you feel overwhelmed and overworked, let your partner know. This will help them understand what you’re going through and find ways to support you. At the same time, listening to your partner’s needs and expectations is equally important. This way, you can balance the load and ensure that both of you are carrying a fair share.

  • Find Ways to Decompress

Finding ways to decompress is crucial to reducing the mental load. Whether it’s taking a break, exercising, meditation, or spending time with friends, finding ways to relieve stress can help improve your mental health and well-being. Prioritize your self-care and find ways to recharge your batteries regularly.

  • Seek Professional Help

Seeking counseling can be a daunting task, but it’s worth the effort. It can help you recognize and manage the mental load, create a more equitable division of tasks, and improve communication. It can also lead to a stronger, healthier, and more connected relationship. By seeking help, you’re investing in yourself, your partner, and your future together.

Counseling is a powerful tool that can help couples navigate the complexities of the mental load. A counselor can encourage communication, emotional support, and understanding to help both partners work together towards a more equitable division of labor. By addressing the underlying root of the issue, counseling can improve relationship dynamics, reduce stress, and promote a healthier work-life balance.

Why Connection Matters

Feeling connected to your partner and the world around you is essential for mental health and overall well-being. When you’re bogged down by mental load, it can be challenging to find time and energy for connection. However, creating space for connection in your daily life can make all the difference. This could be as simple as taking a walk together, having a date night, or practicing gratitude together.

Overall, mental load is a pervasive issue in many relationships, and it can take a toll on mental health and connection. However, by having an open conversation with your partner, delegating tasks, and practicing self-care and connection, you can alleviate the burden of mental load and create a stronger, more joyful relationship. Remember, you don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders alone.

In conclusion, the mental load is a real issue that affects relationships, especially in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s essential to recognize its impact on both partners and seek help in the form of counseling. With the right tools and guidance, couples can navigate the complexities of the mental load and create a healthier and more connected relationship. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

Mental load can be a significant burden on your relationship, but it doesn’t have to be. By understanding what it is, sharing responsibilities, communicating openly, seeking professional help, and finding ways to decompress, you can reduce the load and strengthen your connection with your partner. Remember that reducing the mental load is not about keeping score but about working together as a team. Start small, be patient, and remember that every effort counts.

I hope this has helped shed some light on what could be happening in your relationship and how to face it head-on.

Until next time,


Katheryn Barton

Uplift and Connect Counseling couples mental load counseling