Who thinks of birthday presents? Who plans dinner? Who buys vacuum cleaner bags? Who enters the parents’ evening in the family calendar? And who goes then also? In most families the answer is: the wife. The partner. The mom. Invisible to outsiders, endless to-do lists rattle through the female brain, causing pressure, stress and bad moods. You can’t see it, but lately at least the whole thing has a name: Mental Load. The Berlin-based blogger and author Patricia Cammarata has written a book to this phenomenon, which comes on 24. June on the market comes:
In an interview with Men’s Health, the psychologist answered the most important questions on the subject – so that men can also recognize (and, above all, eliminate) the problem. With these problems, fathers should go to a coach.
What is Mental Load anyway?
“Basically, the term mental load means nothing else than that there are many, many invisible tasks in everyday life, which are never explicitly mentioned and which nevertheless have to be identified, considered, planned and then completed. It is also important to note that in most families there is only one person who bears the complete responsibility for all processes and results. In the vast majority of cases, it is the women. They bear the full responsibility and thus the mental load, regardless of the extent of their own employment.”That’s how easy it is to entertain children while relaxing on the sofa.
Why is everyone (women) suddenly talking about Mental Load?
“It helps to have a name for this phenomenon. When I first heard the term, it was like a long-awaited diagnosis. Finally I knew why I was constantly so permanently exhausted. Until then, I thought it was my individual problem and that I was alone with it, too weak and possibly too poorly organized. Many women feel this way, and it is a great relief to realize that you are not alone and, above all, that you are not to blame. In the free economy one would say to Mental Load perhaps project management. A pretty well-paid job, by the way, and no one would think of saddling the project manager with the additional task of implementing the project. And the project manager would not blame himself if he then fails due to the scope of the tasks.”
Who actually invented the term?
“The term has been around in sociology for a long time. It was popularized by the comic strip “You should’ve asked” by French illustrator Emma:
Order here: The Mental Load: A Feminist Comic
She has taken the concept out of the science corner and into everyday life, and visualized it so well that the scales have fallen from the eyes of those affected by it.”How to solve the most common relationship problems yourself.
Why do women in particular suffer from it?
“To a large extent, this is a problem of social views and socialization. Women learn at an early age that they are responsible for taking care of others. They are taught: No matter what you do later in terms of gainful employment: You will be responsible for the family and the household – that is your territory. It is also implied that women somehow have it in their genes or blood, that we even like to do it. And because we like to do it, they don’t need credit for it either. It is, after all, a matter of course.”
Does Mental Load only affect women with children?
“No, I often hear from women without children that they also carry mental load for their partner and the common household. They remind their husbands that their mothers have birthdays, plan meals together, keep flowers alive, and make the man feel that the soap dispenser never needs to be refilled but is connected to an inexhaustible reservoir of soap. The man lives a carefree life and there is no eternal to-do list rattling around in his head in the evening.”
What effect does Mental Load have on love?
“If Mental Load is not shared, at some point there is an overload and the woman slowly slides towards burnout. A constructive exchange is then only possible with difficulty. Oskar Holzberg, a well-known couple therapist, once said: ‘Out of excessive demand comes demand.’ I found this very appropriate. Because in the end, couples no longer argue about responsibilities and to-dos, but about injuries and about feeling left alone. This makes it very difficult to talk about mental load, because suddenly factual and relationship levels are mixed up.”
How can I tell that my partner is suffering from Mental Load?
“I think most people will notice it because the woman seems permanently exhausted and you have the feeling that she is always somewhere else in her head. Personally, I have lost all lightness and especially humor. I was all pinched and everything always had to go exactly according to my plan. There it would probably have helped a lot if the man had simply asked: What can I do so that we once again have a relaxed evening? What can I take from you? What do we want to talk about? I don’t want to leave you alone with everything, but I don’t know exactly how I can get involved. I know this is extra work for you now, but I want us to carry the load together in the future.”
How can man and woman solve the problem together?
“The biggest problem with Mental Load is that it is invisible. That’s why I think the whole problem should really be approached like classic project management:
1. Inventory: This means compiling, in as small a way as possible, who does what, when, and how often, and also marking it off: Who thinks of it and initiates the process.
2. Meeting routine: Preferably in a weekly rhythm, in which tasks and responsibilities are distributed and everything is discussed: Who does what and when?
3. Retrospective: This is necessary every few months: How did it go? What went well, what went badly? Why? What needs to be reallocated? Which tasks can be handed over permanently? What tasks should be rotated to build knowledge and competence? So essentially talk, talk, talk.
And don’t forget: If you want to ensure fail-safety and high availability in IT, you have to rely on redundancy. In other words, it’s not about efficiency in the first place, it’s about both partners having critical knowledge and skills, and that applies to both care and work. Working to ensure that the woman also has a good job, with which she contributes significantly to the family income, is then just as important. But that is again an additional topic.”
Can men also be affected by the mental load problem?
” Sure. However, much less often. There are even studies that show that in families where the woman works more and earns significantly more than the man, she takes on more care work because she has
a) a guilty conscience toward her husband (because she earns so much more, which is, after all, a male domain), and
b) life circumstances demand that the man be expected to do the ‘degrading housework’.”
Mental Load is at first sight a misery of the women. But if you take a closer look, you will quickly realize that the man is the real key to eliminating this problem. In the first step, it helps to recognize the facts and to talk openly with your partner. Who shies away from this, can of course first talk to a coach about his partnership, contact persons can be found for example under vaeter-ggmbh.en. After that, however, a conversation with the partner is absolutely necessary. And an old saying that still has its validity: A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved.
- 1 What is Mental Load anyway?
- 2 Why is everyone (women) suddenly talking about Mental Load?
- 3 Who actually invented the term?
- 4 Why do women in particular suffer from it?
- 5 Does Mental Load only affect women with children?
- 6 What effect does Mental Load have on love?
- 7 How can I tell that my partner is suffering from Mental Load?
- 8 How can man and woman solve the problem together?
- 9 Can men also be affected by the mental load problem?
- 10 Conclusion: shared misery is half the misery