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I’m a dating coach and author.

My wife is a stay-at-home mom.

I work from 9 am  to 5:30 pm.

My wife works from 6:15 am to  midnight.

I support the family monetarily.

My wife supports the family in every other way.

I’m writing a piece on my blog right now.

My wife is  taking a two-hour nap because she’s so exhausted.

I’m not sure if we have a traditional marriage (because I’m the breadwinner) or a modern marriage (because I work from home and  assist with childrearing).

What I do know is that my wife has it MUCH harder than I do. It’s not even close.

What I do know is that my wife has it MUCH harder than I do. It’s not even close.

When I wake up, I go to the gym.

When my wife wakes up, she gets our 5 and 6-year-olds  ready for school.

When I get out of work at 5:30, I play with the kids for an hour – bike riding, board games, reading, or basketball.

During that same time – after  my wife has gone food shopping, called the insurance company, picked up the kids from school, helped them  with homework, and driven them to and from soccer –  she prepares separate dinners for  us and the kids.

She knows that this hour is the only time I have with the kids all day and she wants me to enjoy it. I do. And I do try to take a few things off her plate at the end of the day, including bathtime, tooth brushing, goodnight stories and dishes.

At 8 pm, we watch a few hours of TV and I go upstairs to read a book. My wife  then starts on two loads of laundry, answers emails for the first time all day, handles treasurer duties for the PTA, and writes a list of a dozen things she has to do the next day.

By the time she winds down, it’s  1 am, at which point I’ve already been asleep for over an hour. It all begins the next day at 6:15 am.

On weekends,  my wife gets to sleep in as late as she wants while I  handle the kids, but it’s a pittance compared with the daily load she has to bear.

On weekends,  my wife gets to sleep in as late as she wants while I  handle the kids, but it’s a pittance compared with the daily load she has to bear.

We talk about it all the time. I offer to help ease her burden. She doesn’t even know what to delegate. All she knows is that she can never rest because, while I’m paying the bills, she does all the thinking for the entire family. It’s not just the thankless work itself that tires women out; it’s bearing responsibility for the whole family that is so draining.

If you want to compare my work with hers (because I pay all the bills), don’t bother. Maybe if  I had to work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, to support everyone, I might feel the same way. But I don’t. I can turn off at night and on the weekends.

My wife never turns off. She’s not alone.

Over 850,000 people have shared this brilliant Harper’s Bazaar piece by Gemma Hartley on what it’s like to be a woman who has to handle the emotional labor in a relationship. When I forwarded this to my wife and watched her read it in the kitchen, her eyes began to well up with tears. That’s how it felt to have  another woman articulate her unspoken feelings about how she never gets to relax.

Even with an appreciative, communicative, work-from-home husband who always offers to help, my wife, like most wives, bears the emotional labor in our home. Despite this realization, we have been unable to balance the scales. The situation is even worse for  women with full-time jobs who also handle  the vast majority of household labor. It’s beyond unfair.

The situation is even worse for  women with full-time jobs who also handle  the vast majority of household labor. It’s beyond unfair.

Check out this searing excerpt, which  cut to the heart of  so many marital disputes.

“My husband is a good man, and a good feminist ally. I could tell, as I walked him through it, that he was trying to grasp what I was getting at. But he didn’t. He said he’d try to do more cleaning around the house to help me out. He restated that all I ever needed to do was ask him for help, but therein lies the problem. I don’t want to micromanage housework. I want a partner with equal initiative.

However, it’s not as easy as telling him that. My husband, despite his good nature and admirable intentions, still responds to criticism in a very patriarchal way. Forcing him to see emotional labor for the work it is  feels like a personal attack on his character. If I were to point out random emotional labor duties I carry out–reminding him of his family’s birthdays, carrying in my head the entire school handbook and dietary guidelines for lunches, updating the calendar to include everyone’s schedules, asking his mother to babysit the kids when we go out, keeping track of what food and household items we are running low on, tidying everyone’s strewn about belongings, the unending hell that is laundry–he would take it as me saying, “Look at everything I’m doing that you’re not. You’re a bad person for ignoring me and not pulling your weight.”

Bearing the brunt of all this emotional labor in a household is  frustrating. It’s the word I hear most commonly when talking to friends about the subject of all the behind-the-scenes work they do. It’s frustrating to be saddled with all of these responsibilities, no one to acknowledge the work you are doing, and no way to change it without a major confrontation.”  

I, for one, want to acknowledge any woman reading this for her emotional labor. I don’t think most men understand what it’s like to have a second job after your first job ends. If anything, on the whole, we’re  somewhere between clueless and selfish. Sure, we can spin it by saying we’re better than our fathers, who never changed diapers or cooked dinner, but really, that’s pretty faint praise. We have to do better.

We can spin it by saying we’re better than our fathers, who never changed diapers or cooked dinner, but really, that’s pretty faint praise. We have to do better.

And  we want you to help us. This is not “victim-blaming,” in any way, shape or form. It’s an acknowledgment that being married is a lifelong collaboration, and couples need to communicate without attacking or rancor.

Sometimes, after dinner, when I’m sitting on the couch reading my phone, and my wife is still going 75 mph, I feel it:

The karma deficit – where, no matter what I do, it’s a fraction of what  she does.

“Honey?” I say, “I feel awful. Is there anything I can do to help you out?”

Her nightly reply? “It would take longer for me to explain to you what to do than to do it myself. And chances are, you wouldn’t do it the way I want it done, anyway.”

Bearing the burden of all the household knowledge is, therefore, a curse.

I can’t pack the kids’ lunches because only my wife knows what they like, which changes day to day.

I can’t get their clothes out for the next morning because I don’t know if the school is having a theme day and whatever I choose will never adequately account for the different weather at 7:30am and 2pm.

I can’t organize a pool party because I wouldn’t know which serving plates to use for which chips.

Last night, I asked about something as simple as folding laundry.

I was told that there’s only one way to do it – her way – and that if I deviated from it, she have to refold everything, so why bother?

I told her I could probably follow directions and, even if I got it “wrong,” she’d still be able to  fit the clothes in the kids’ drawers.  Isn’t getting things 85% right better than having to do everything yourself?

“But then one shirt on top  would look different than the rest of them,”  my wife replied.

She did the rest of the laundry while I watched the baseball game.

The result didn’t feel good – for either of us.

I will continue to ask my wife to delegate things, to lighten her load, to ease her worried mind, to give her a rest whenever I can.

But I remain frustrated – both for her and for women who carry the disproportionate emotional labor for their families. All too often, your husbands often don’t know – or care – how all-consuming it is to be the primary caregiver, to feel like  the overloaded computer with the spinning beach ball.

All too often, your husbands often don’t know – or care – how all-consuming it is to be the primary caregiver, to feel like  the overloaded computer with the spinning beach ball.

It’s tiring. It’s unfair. And it has to change, for the sake of everybody’s sanity and well-being.

Since I’m still  grappling with this in my own marriage, I don’t claim to have the answers, but  I would suggest this: if you have a good man who loves you and wants you to be happy, please share this article with him.

He may not understand what it’s like to walk a mile in your shoes, but he probably wants to do better than he’s doing today.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.