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The Invisible Burden – How To Balance The Emotional Workload In Your Relationship

Written by: Martine Kotze, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


It's Monday afternoon, my last appointment for the day. I look at the woman on my screen, tears welling up and slowly rolling down her face. “I am exhausted. I feel like I am the only one doing this work and I don't know how much longer I can keep at it". Have you ever felt like you are the only one working on your relationship? You are not alone.

photo of a woman wearing eye glasses

What is emotional labor and why do more women report it?

Many women report the invisible burden of carrying the emotional workload in the relationship. Emotional labor can be classified as everything that goes into maintaining the relationship. Managing feelings, regulating emotions, and anticipation of the needs of her partner and the relationship. This is why many women that end up working with me are exhausted, overwhelmed, and frustrated.

From a young age, girls are taught to be the carer and nurturer in family dynamics, while boys are encouraged to be independent. Many women when entering a romantic relationship carry this conditioning with them. They become hyper-aware of their partner's changes in mood and take on the burden of trying to relieve stress in the relationship, they over-nurture their partners and kids, and they give to their communities, all while dismissing their own needs and end up feeling resentful and burnt out.

Here are 5 things you can do if you feel that you are doing the heavy lifting in your relationship:

  1. Work on open communication where you clearly state your needs. How often are you asking for help? Do you speak up when you feel overwhelmed?

  2. Create stronger boundaries. Be clear about what you will tolerate and what you won't tolerate.

  3. Evaluate expectations. Have an open conversation about what the expectations are for each partner. Choose a time when you are both calm and able to negotiate with love and compassion. Lead with compassion.

  4. Seek support through therapy/coaching where you have someone to guide those conversations if you have not been able to have them by yourself. It will speed up the process of change and leave you both feeling supported, instead of getting stuck in the same cycle.

  5. Show up for yourself. When you better yourself you fundamentally better your relationship and your partner will be impacted by it.

In conclusion, emotional labor is a crucial component of healthy relationships, but there are no rules. Each relationship is different and just because emotional labor is not split 50/50 does not mean that your relationship is doomed. The more important thing is that both partners are clear about who brings what to the table. It's important that there is awareness and appreciation for all contributions, no matter what it looks like. When you work as a team and stop taking score, it creates an environment where both partners are happy to contribute.

I teach couples how to master these skills. Tap this link to learn if you are a good fit for my coaching program.

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Martine Kotze, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Martine is a Relationship and Mindset Coach and provides bespoke Relationship courses and coaching that values and honors each client and supports them through all aspects of transformation in their relationship, leaving them with valuable tools to share for generations to come. Martine believes that everyone deserves a relationship where they feel loved and seen and deeply understood. Healthy families start with healthy relationships between partners.



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