Emotional Labor in Relationships


Why do we get involved in romantic relationships? For various reasons, actually. For example, we simply can't live alone, and we always need someone to support us. Of course, this is not the only big reason for people to strive for love and relationship, but it plays a huge role when it comes to living together with someone as a couple. When two people decide to be together, they not only face new pleasant challenges and bring more romance in their lives but also have to deal with many small or even big inconveniences and problems. In simple words, they must get used and adjust to each other.

Some problems in romantic relationships can be easily overcome by love, while others turn into quarrels with time. That is the way of things in healthy relationships. However, there is another type of problem that can't be resolved purely with love and that never causes quarrels. As you have guessed, we are talking about emotional labor. Nowadays, men, when searching for a woman to marry, very frequently subconsciously pay attention to this matter. Why subconsciously? You see, due to gender differences in education, men usually have no idea about emotional labor. On the other hand, women from childhood are taught to be responsible for it.

emotional labor in relationships

What Exactly Is Emotional Labor?

Sooner or later, when you are involved in a long-term relationship with a woman, one of you will have to plan your dinners, choose movies, and decide where you will spend the next vacation. Of course, when you are still on the stage where you try to find a single woman, it may seem that those are standard questions of adulthood. Of course, every responsible adult makes sure that he or she has available toilet paper, something to eat, and can do the laundry. Furthermore, we get used to those daily chores so much that we don't even think this can be hard and that we should even talk about such "small" matters.

Surely, people in relationships and not in relationships do such sort of things. However, there is a huge difference between these two situations. When you live alone and do all these things, they don't feel like labor at all. On the other hand, when two people decide to live together, those daily chores don't disappear, and both partners must do the emotional labor. Unfortunately, in the majority of romantic relationships, there is a significant misbalance in responsibilities for emotional labor. Most frequently, women carry the whole responsibility for this, and men don't even see their efforts. No, this is not because men are unfeeling monsters but because they don't even think about those matters.

So, what is emotional labor? In simple terms, emotional labor in relationships is all those small daily chores and contributions that people do to maintain their lives. Later in this article, we will share with you several emotional labor examples. Generally, everything that partners do for the sake of their joint living can be considered emotional labor but only with one requirement. The difference between contribution and emotional labor is that people get rewarded by their partners for making contributions. However, when it comes to emotional labor, partners don't even notice efforts that were put into it.

Do Men Really Tend to Invest Less Emotional Labor Than Women?

When it comes to discussing matters related to emotional labor, women tend to say that they are responsible for the majority of it. Even in this article, we have already said that, most frequently, women invest more emotional labor than men. If you are a man, then think about your relationships, without a single doubt, you do many things together, and you help your girlfriend with everything and always voluntarily do something for her if she asks you. For example, you help her with bags when she comes from a supermarket and calls you to meet her on halfway home because bags are too heavy. Or you brush your daughter's hair when she asks you to do it because she has no time. Or sometimes, you voluntarily clean your kitchen if she has other matters to do and asks for your help.

Doesn't this small emotional labor checklist mean that you are a perfect husband or partner who is always ready to help? Well, it means that you are a normal person who respects his woman and never lets her struggle with problems alone, but this is not enough. As we have already said to define emotional labor: it is all small planning, thinking, worrying about all those matters that directly affect the smoothness of your lives. Unfortunately, it is not just enough to be willing to help her when she asks for your help. To make sure that you equally carry the brunt of all this emotional labor, you must be proactive yourself.

Consequently, when we are talking about unequal duties and emotional labor in marriage, we in no way aim to insult or offend carrying and loving men. Your girlfriend knows that you love her, she also feels your care, if you do everything right. But in our lives, we always must aim for better, right? Particularly when it comes to making our significant others happier. Hence, you, as a man, should take charge and become proactive in all your daily duties and chores. Want to surprise your girlfriend? To begin with, make breakfast every morning. And don't expect her to acknowledge it or do anything in return. This is your duty, just like her duty, for example, is to make sure that you both have something to eat for your supper.

When I faced this matter for the first time, I thought, "Why she can't just ask me to help her. I am always eager to do this." Probably, you have thought about this too. Unfortunately, when a girl must always ask her boyfriend for help, it clearly means that she carries all the weight of emotional labor at home alone. We have already said about the importance of proactivity. Your proactivity shows that it is not she who manages all daily chores alone and you just help her from time to time, but it is both of you, who more or less equally carry this burden. This difference is crucial.emotional labor women

Emotional Labor Examples

To give you a better understanding of this concept, we are going to share with you the most interesting examples of emotional labor. Surely, you know that your partner manages all those things, but this is the problem of awareness. The main problem is that we don't see those chores as something that requires attention. This is why, for a girl, it is very hard even to start a conversation about emotional labor. So, we hope that these examples will give you a clue what things to focus on when you will be working on your proactivity in a romantic relationship.

1. Meal planning

Have you ever thought about your diet? Who cooks in your family most frequently? Maintaining meals is a very hard thing. Unfortunately, people never notice this. Thus, it becomes emotional labor or even a burden. Actually, this is the most common form of it, because cooking is one of the most time-consuming things.

2. Planning entertainments

Yes, boredom is a terrible thing, but emotional labor can be even worse. Pay attention to who in your romantic relationship always searches for new movies to watch or new things to do to entertain. This may seem like a very small matter, but the devil is in details, remember?

3. Planning vacations

Have you ever planned a joint vacation? When people do this, they carry an enormous amount of emotional stress. After all, they need to make sure that everyone will like a vacation, and what is more important will be comfortable with everything. This is a hell of a work, you can believe me.

4. Maintaining the house

People always underestimate how hard it is to remember what cleaning supplies it is better to have at home. When she gives you a shopping list, have you ever thought how hard it is to keep track of all food supplies in your refrigerator? It is very hard, and your partner should never do this alone.

5. Keeping track of birthdays and anniversaries

Have you ever wondered why your girlfriend never forgets anniversaries and sometimes even reminds you of your mother's birthday? Surely, this is cool, and you always thanked her for it. But have you even though how emotionally hard it is to be responsible for keeping track of everything?

Signs of One-Sided Emotional Labor in Relationships

When it comes to love and relationships, we always want to make our partners happy. However, sometimes, we make stupid mistakes that can offend our significant others. Moreover, in the case of emotional labor, not doing anything is the worst mistake. Usually, people make it simply because they have no idea that their partners suffer from carrying the burden of emotional labor alone. So, here we want to share with you the top 3 hidden signs of one-sided emotional labor in the relationship. You must act even if you see a shadow of one of those signs.

1. Your partner always has to ask for your help

Here is a simple example: you have noticed that you are completely out of milk, and you know that your partner likes it. So, instead of going to a store and buying it, you either wait till he or she asks you to buy one or just call your partner to ask him or her to buy it. And even if you do, you always ask for gratitude for this. It is not okay if your partner always has to ask you for help, even if you gladly help him or her. You must be noticing things that you can do for your relationship yourself and never ask anything in return.

2. Your partner feels exhausted

Being exhausted after especially hardcore exercising program at a gym is okay and even good for your health. However, it is neither good nor okay if your partner feels exhausted daily with no good reason for this. You must remember that emotional labor is labor, and it takes a lot of energy, especially when it comes to maintaining the house. So, when you encounter this situation, don't wait for him or her to come crying on your shoulder. Start doing something to help your partner relax and lower the pressure on them. Your lover will definitely appreciate it.

3. Your partner fears to look needy

This one is very tricky because it involves many other factors. You should pay attention to your partner's behavior. Can he or she freely ask you for something? Most frequently, when there is inequality in emotional labor in a relationship, one partner has absolutely normal requests, and he or she has to ask more because they have more responsibilities. In the eyes of others, it may seem that this partner is needy. So, in this case, your tasks are to ensure your partner that this is okay to ask for things that you both need to keep things running smoothly and try to lower the pressure of emotional labor.define emotional labor

Ways to Invest Emotional Labor in Marriage and Relationships

It is clear that emotional labor in friendships or relationships is a terrible thing that may even suck the happiness of your partner. Also, it is clear that, in the majority of cases, women carry this burned alone in relationships. So, is there something that you, as a man, can do to make things easier for your girlfriend, or even completely eliminate the problem of unequal emotional labor in your romantic relationship? To be honest, there are many different ways to do this, but today we will concentrate on the most effective ones that will give you the first positive results very soon.

1. Emotional labor is for everyone

It is crucial to understand that you can't build a happy relationship without certain aspects of emotional labor. For example, even controlling your emotions or helping your partner in dealing with them to avoid outbursts of anger is emotional labor. It may be extremely exhausting to try to regulate some situations that involve strong emotions, especially if those situations occur very often. Yes, this seems to be very hard, but believe me, that by splitting the burned of emotional labor, you both will have more time for making each other happy.

2. Learn to listen

When your significant other tells you things that don't sound inherently positive, you should never consider them as attacks on your personality. He or she is just trying to express their point of view on whatever situation happened between you two. If you don't know how to listen and adequately regulate your emotional response, just talking to you about the smallest issues will be emotional labor for your partner. Your incorrect reaction to your partner's attempts to have a hard conversation with you will only increase the weight of emotional labor.

3. Take responsibility for your emotions

When two people fall in love and decide to be together, they start building emotional connections and ties. Those connections unite people together and directly affect their emotions. Thus, if one partner has a terrible mood because he or she can't control their emotions, the second partner will also suffer from this. To build a healthy romantic relationship and equally spread emotional labor, it is crucial to be responsible for your emotions and their effect on your relationship. To begin with, try to become more sensitive to the emotions of other people. Thus, you will make emotional labor easier for both of you.

4. Start a conversation about emotional labor

Recently, we have mentioned that the worst problem with emotional labor is that most frequently, it remains unnoticed by romantic partners. But now, you know about this issue, know how to listen to your partner, and control your emotions. The time has finally come to start this conversation with your girlfriend. I am sure that she will have plenty of things to tell you, especially if you've noticed some signs of one-sided emotional labor in your relationship. So, get ready to listen to what she has to say, and work hard on fixing those matters.

5. Be attentive and open-minded

Sometimes emotional labor takes unexpected forms and may appear in every aspect of our lives. So, be attentive to your girlfriend, make sure that your words and actions are not putting additional stress on you. If you know that something soon will significantly change your lives, for example, your relatives are going to pay a visit to you, and she will have additional emotional labor, make sure that she is not the only one who will carry this burden. Sometimes, her words may seem strange and frustrating, but when this happens, you must tell yourself that this all is for the sake of her, thus, your happiness.

It is not a secret that a healthy romantic relationship requires constant work and adjustments. Brick by prick, you fix your problems and build your castle of happiness and love. With this fact in mind, you should approach emotional labor as a glue that holds those bricks together. Yes, no one can see this glue from the outside or even inside of your castle of love, but without this glue, the first storm will bring down those bricks right on your heads and will burry your love under the rubbles. So, be attentive, and learn to control your emotions to make sure that you both, every day, equally add this glue of emotional labor on your bricks of love, mutual understanding, and happiness.

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