Couples Tend To Be Happier With Equal Workloads | Relationship Advice Video With Dr. Wyatt


by Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D.

Work is a part of life and takes many forms. Raising children is work, paying all the bills is work, taking care of the home and cars is work, working for an employer is work. The problem can arise when one spouse starts feeling like they are working much more than the other. If this persists for an extended period of time resentment usually begins, which creates barriers to closeness within the marriage. Therefore, my relationship advice video this week is that you remember to check in with your spouse on a regular basis to ensure you both feel the workload is roughly even and if it's not to make changes so that it is.

Video Transcript

One area that's important for couples to look at is how equal they feel like the workload is between them. It's important for both spouses to feel like the workload – net sum workload for both of them is roughly equal. If it's not, and if they feel like one spouse is working much more than the other one, usually that leads to resentment and problems.

It's interesting this whole area of fairness and it's something that usually is just innate within us, not something we're taught but something we're born with and it's something that God has just wired into us; it's a sense of fairness. My wife and I have four kids and from an early age, they quickly pointed out scenarios that they didn't feel like was fair. "Mom, that's not fair" or "Dad, this isn't fair" - Between me and my brother, me and my sister, etc. And so, no one had to teach them that; it was just something innate that God built into them and we carry that sense of fairness right into our marriage.

And so, if we start feeling like we're working much more than our spouse, we're going to probably get resentful and it's going to create walls and problems in the marriage. So, it's important to talk about this with your spouse. Ask them "how equal do you feel like the workload is that you do versus what I do?" and they may think it's perfectly equal or they may say "I feel like I don't work as much as you", or they may say "I feel like I have much more on my plate than you do and it feels very unfair."  And if that's the case, you need to talk about it, process through it and then find solutions so, talk about what could you do to level the playing field; to make the responsibilities for both of you roughly equal because you need to get into that place where you both can say "our workload, for both of us is roughly equal.”

And I've seen this play out in two main ways. The one way I see it a lot of times is if a spouse is working outside the home, a lot of times it's the husband - say if he's the main breadwinner and the wife is staying at home, especially once the kids go off to school, a lot of times the husband could start feeling like he is working much more than the wife who is staying at home full-time and if that's the scenario they need to talk about it and see what needs to be done to help even out that workflow.

I've also seen it where both spouses are working outside the home and when the wife comes home she's also expected to do the majority of the domestic duties and the majority of childcare and then she can get resentful. So, that's also not fair. And so, no matter what your scenario is or what your setup is, you just need to talk it through and to see, do both of you feel like things are relatively equal with your workload and again, if it's not, to come up with some solutions to make it so. Be sure to apply this relationship advice to your current or future relationship!

 How important do you feel it is for couples to have an equal workload?

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