I’m Not Your Mother

Mom role

It seems as though, in relationships where two or more people live together, that one person always ends up taking on more of the household workload. In cisgender, heterosexual relationships, this often falls on the female partner to take on more of a “mom” role in the relationship and shouldering a larger share of both mental and physical housework.

Why is this an issue? When a partner isn’t motivated to help around the house, it sends messages such as:

  • You don’t care about me.
  • You don’t respect me enough to help out.
  • I feel undervalued.
  • I feel unappreciated.
  • I feel like I can’t rely on you for support.

If there’s an unequal labor division, over a long period of time there can be detrimental effects to the relationship:

  • Resentment.
  • Loss of intimacy.
  • Lack of sex.
  • Increased stress.
  • A characterization of how someone may view the entire relationship.
  • Overall relationship withdrawal.
In 2016, an article circulated titled “She Divorced Me Because I Left My Dishes by the Sink.” His partner wasn’t his wife, she was his mother, and the unfair division of labor ended their relationship.

Changing the pattern

It’s crucial to recognize if your relationship is falling into these patterns of inequality, and take the action to start breaking out of it.

On the micro level

  1. Schedule a RADAR. Even if you don’t already do RADARs with your partner, it’s never too late to start.
  2. Track the time you spend doing household chores as well as the time spent planning for them, and share your findings with each other. Try to establish ways in which the two of you can share the load and take the burden off the person doing the most work. Do your best not to have one person delegate and instead work together to problem solve.
  3. Figure out a way to completely step away from the tasks you’re giving to the other person and temper your expectations of how well that task may be achieved at first.
  4. Use metacommunication and what you know about your partner’s likes and dislikes to anticipate their needs while collaborating on a task to strengthen intimacy.

On a macro level

  1. Advertising companies are starting to remove gendered stereotypes and roles from their ads.
  2. Companies should also be encouraged to offer both men and women flexible work hours, rather than standard 9–5.
  3. Companies should offer mandatory paternity leave so the stigma of taking it can be lessened.

What NOT to do when asking for help

  1. Pursuit/withdrawal. See episode 228 for more on this pattern. Avoid these behaviors in order to have a more productive discussion.
  2. Don’t criticize or micromanage your partner for doing something “wrong.” Sometimes partners may not want to try at all for fear of being chastised.
  3. Try to refrain from a dynamic where one person is the “leader” or delegates most of the decisions. This can mirror a parent/child relationship, which can be unhealthy and unsexy.
  4. Avoid the four horsemen: stonewalling, contempt, criticizing, and defensiveness.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store



We offer new ideas and advice for multiple forms of #love: everything from #conciousmonogamy to #ethical #Polyamory and radical #relationshipanarchy.