Opinion: Working women need support in many ways. Start by helping out more at home.


Men are essential allies to support needed progress. Here are some key ways that men can help their working partners:

1. Respect her time: The division of labor at home is often unfair because of societal norms and gender roles ingrained in our culture for generations. Addressing the unfair division of labor requires a shift in cultural norms and expectations, which should begin in our homes. 

We can’t expect women to have 21st-century career successes while managing the home using a 20th-century structure. Her time is valuable, and we need to do what we can to treat it that way. In some relationships, one partner may have a career with ongoing stress and long work hours. In others, both partners could experience stress spikes and additional work, in which case the division of labor could change frequently to manage the ebbs and flows of work.

One couple, who serve as Modern Husbands Ambassadors, is a good example. She is an emergency medicine physician, while he has a less stressful job. He ensures that he is prepared to support her emotional needs when she arrives home from work; the apartment is clean, and dinner is ready. Why? Because her job involves the heroic task of saving lives, and not every life can be saved. He knows that, and as a partner, he recognizes that he needs to support her in this way.

Men benefit the most in a marriage when they do more household chores.

2. Manage the home together: According to the University of Cambridge, men benefit the most in a marriage when they do more household chores. Sharing household chores is the third-highest issue associated with a successful marriage.

If your partner works full-time and you find yourself offering to “help with the household chores,” think again. Many men may need to realize the extent of the work involved in running a household, which can lead to an unequal distribution of labor that burdens women with most of the household responsibilities, in addition to their working outside the home.

Researchers, podcast guests, and members of the Modern Husbands community have shared about how to divide the household chores. Their suggestions include: 

  • Discuss and identify what you enjoy and are good at doing.

  • Be honest about what you hate to do or the chores you don’t feel the most confident doing yourself. 

  • Whatever tasks remain, divide them up fairly.

3. Manage money together: Surveys regularly show that money is the leading cause of stress in a marriage and a top-cited reason for divorce. Managing money in a marriage requires thoughtful strategies that include each partner understanding their relationship with money, regular communication, shared financial goals, and understanding money management roles and expectations. Partners need to make proactive decisions to decide how their money should be used and managed toward shared expectations and goals. 

4. Have a shared mental load for managing the home (invisible work): The mental load is the invisible burden of managing household and family responsibilities, which often falls disproportionately on women. Here are some ways men can share the mental load:

  • Share the responsibilities

  • Take initiative

  • Use reminders and lists

  • Be an equal partner

  • Communicate openly

5. Encourage her to take breaks: Research has found that the more a mother earns, the more housework she shouldered, especially in married couples. According to the author of the study, “Wives do more and husbands do less as they try to offset this ‘abnormal’ situation by leaning into other conventional gender norms.”

Men can ensure a fair division of labor at home and encourage their partner to take breaks during the day. She needs to know that it is okay to stop working around the home and that she deserves time to herself. 

6. Give support and listen to her: Understand what you want your role to be in conversations to support her career goals. She may need a sounding board for constructive feedback, or would like more specific guidance. It could be as simple as being curious about how she spends her work day to show a genuine interest in her work.

In preparation for an upcoming podcast release, we asked wives with pressure-packed careers what they needed from their husbands to excel in the workforce. At the top of the list was understanding how to listen and when to provide emotional support needed to think clearly.

7. Show appreciation: Show your partner that you appreciate her hard work by thanking her regularly for all that she does. Show her appreciation with surprise gifts, which are more meaningful. Make time for quality time together, whether it’s a date night or an evening at home. Most importantly, celebrate her achievements, both big and small, and show that you are proud of her.

8. Take care of yourself: Do what is needed to have confidence in yourself. Take care of your own physical and mental health. Stay socially connected with friends, eat well, exercise. Set goals for yourself and quietly celebrate your achievements. You can’t make your partner feel like her best self if you don’t feel like your best self. 

9. Be a partner in parenting: Fathers are taking on more caregiving responsibilities for children and spending more time with them overall. Among all stay-at-home parents nowadays, 17% are fathers

Read: Millions of working parents, especially women, are unpaid caregivers. So why doesn’t government data account for their labor?

Parenting can involve a significant mental load, which is the cognitive and emotional effort required to manage and coordinate various tasks and responsibilities associated with caring for children. Here are specific ideas of how fathers can help relieve the mental load of working mothers: 

  • Keep track of the children’s schedules and appointments, including school activities, extracurricular activities, and medical appointments. Ensure they are attended to on time.

  • Plan and prepare meals for the family, including considering individual dietary preferences and restrictions, grocery shopping, and meal planning.

  • Balance work and family responsibilities, including arranging for childcare and after-school activities. 

  • Address children’s emotional and psychological needs, such as providing emotional support, helping them deal with conflicts, and monitoring their mental health.

  • Plan and organize events such as birthday parties, holidays, and family vacations.

Brian Page is the founder of Modern Husbands, which provides men with advice about money, marriage and family matters.

More: Women are still falling behind in retirement savings; how to catch up, especially if you’re over 50

Also read: The gender wage gap hasn’t changed much — but women’s retirement fortunes could improve with a little more planning




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