I read something interesting today about the division of labor in a household. It was this comic and it broke things down regarding “mental workloads” in terms of how there is usually one person in a house that carries the mental workload. Now, this comic relies predominantly on the “woman” in the relationship which – as someone raised by her Dad – I’m not a fan of in general, but practically speaking it is the most common situation.
But one of the things it discusses is how, if you carry most of the mental workload (or even physical workload) in your home, your partner probably draw the line at saying, “Just ask for help!” which the comic points out is NOT something you should have to do. If both people are mentally involved then the partner should also notice if something needs to be done and do it without being asked.
And, for the most part, I was on board with this. BUT – it got me thinking bout my domestic balance. And yes, I carry 90% of the mental workload in the family. Donnie worries about money and dental appointments and I do everything else. But, I also insist he actually ask me for help when he needs something. When he says, “I need goggles,” I know he’s hoping then I’ll go buy them, and I will because I run all of the miscellaneous errands, but I prefer to be ASKED so that he recognizes this thing is not part of my normal schedule. And that seems contrary to what the comic suggests, the comic suggests that if someone has to ASK for help then the other person is not mentally invested enough to just notice something needs to be done.
It’s a dichotomy I’ve thought a lot about in terms of “giving thanks” in the domestic life of a family. My husband takes a day and cleans the house which is atypical for him and so I make sure to thank him. And sometimes, I don’t thank him and he points it out. And part of me is like, “UGGGGG, but no one thanks me for CRAP,” but the other part of me is like, “Yeah…but damn if I wouldn’t love for them to thank me.”
Gratitude and Asking For Help…those are two things that seem very different depending on the perspective. They mean different things coming from and directed to different people. It’s interesting, because I would love to have someone say “Thank you!” every time I do something for the family, but no one does so I get irritable when I’m supposed to notice and say, “Thank you!” when someone else does something. And I don’t want to have to ask for help around the house, I want someone to just also carry the mental weight of knowing it needs to be done. But I want my husband to ask for help instead of just assuming I’ll do it.
It don’t know if there is a right way to handle either thing: Gratitude or Asking For Help, I just know they’re complicated issues in maintaining a domestic partnership. How does your family handle either?