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  • Writer's pictureNicole Leistikow

What to Expect After You Make a Concrete Ask of Your Partner

Updated: Feb 11

Many of my patients are hesitant to ask their partners to take on more because they don't want to deal with the pushback they anticipate. The drawing below is my attempt to help them adjust their expectations to see that: 1) this is a journey, 2) the difficult stages are stops on a path towards eventual success, and 3) sharing responsibilities is a longterm good for the family, even if their partner does not embrace this at the beginning.

Another reason for hesitancy? It's gendered. We need to all laugh when a capable woman tells me that her capable husband is not able to learn how to plan and cook dinner for the family. "He's a professor; he's a doctor; he's a pilot; he's a (insert career that had to be learned here); I think he can learn to cook," I will say. What we are willing to expect from people, including our partners, is complicated by our own and their history. Sometimes it is easier to expect more in a professional context. Someone explained unexpected helplessness around learnable tasks to me this way: "At work, we call this weaponized incompetence."

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