In an interview recently published in The Atlantic, Joe Pinsker talks with Kate Mangino about highlights of her new book, Equal Partners: Improving Gender Equality at Home. The book explores the inequalities between partners when it comes to the mental labor of running a household, and the interview looks more closely at some of they key processes at play.
Here are some of our favorite takeaways from the article:
1. If we want someone to step up, we need to give them opportunities to do so.
If we want our partner to take on more of the load, we need to give them a chance to do it. Of course this makes sense, but Mangino takes it further and describes one dad who, when left to manage the household with very little guidance, quickly learned what he needed to be successful during that time, and that it was better to plan ahead.
Not only do we need to give our partner the chance to take over, we need to give our partner a chance to take ownership of the role – to identify a path to success and exercise agency in getting there.
2. Taking on the mental load of managing a home takes practice.
Just as an individual needs to be given the chance to take on new responsibilities, they must also be given opportunities to practice their new skills in order to become effective and efficient.
If one partner only steps in to manage the home when there’s a hiccup in routine, that partner won’t have the chance to become competent through practice. However. with regular opportunities to apply and adjust new knowledge and skills, our partners will be able to master the task of managing the mental workload at home.
3. No matter how the workload is divided, support can be tough to find.
As is usual with a cultural shift, community support can take a while to catch up and be effective in the face of change. Women have had time to develop an evolved ecosystem of support as primary bearers of the mental workload, but for those who are new to the responsibilities (usually dads), support can be difficult to find.
There’s all these micro-decisions we make throughout the day around parenting and our chat groups really help us with those.” Mangino says, expressing, “dads don’t really have that… Just like moms can put out on their chats, I feel like a bad mom because I just served Kraft mac and cheese for dinner, dads would benefit from that too.”
The interview with Mangino offers us some important insights surrounding the mental load of managing a home: 1) Give your partner opportunities to step up, 2) Give your partner opportunities to practice their new role, and 3) be mindful that community support is important, but may be tricky to find.
If you would like help navigating an issue in your relationship, a love coach can help you untangle the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that get in the way of deeper connection. Live better, love better… you are worth it.