Susan Blackburn Psychology

Shared Relationship Responsibility

In most relationships, there’s an over-responsible partner and an under-responsible partner. Do you know which one you are?

You might be the over-responsible partner with preparing meals and keeping track of the household activities, but you might be under responsible with finances or major repairs. At the same time, your partner might be over responsible from a career standpoint and with your children’s education, but under responsible with health and socializing with friends and family. Any combination is possible.

The over/under responsible dynamic is natural. However, when it’s unbalanced, it sets off a cycle of anger, guilt, hurt and resentment. By becoming aware of your particular dynamic, you can make shifts in your behavior that allow you to grow as an individual and as a couple and balance things out.

Let’s say that you’re the over responsible one and you’d like your partner to start doing more. For this to happen, you’re going to have to start doing less and trust that your partner is intelligent enough to figure out what to do to pick up the slack.

What often happens is that your under responsible partner is slower than you are. You relinquish the task for a while, but by the time your partner gets around to washing the windows, for example, you’ve usually already jumped back in and taken care of it yourself.

When this happens your partner doesn’t really get a chance. If you’re committed to balancing this dynamic, remember that one of you has to pick up the slack… don’t let it be you.

Yes, it’s quite possible that your partner will mess some things up if you stop doing everything. A bill might be paid late, the garbage might not be taken out or your child might miss soccer practise. All of these things are small in comparison to the damage that’s otherwise done through criticism and bitterness with one another.

If you’re the under responsible partner, although it might feel great to be taken care of, you want to see that you’re only adding to your feelings of inadequacy, helplessness and insecurity by sitting back. Make an effort to start doing some of the things your partner takes care of.

At the same time, help your partner to become skilled in the areas that you’re competent in and request his assistance in teaching you a thing or two.

Underneath much of this imbalance is a struggle for power and control. When you retain control over the children’s care, for instance, the price you pay is that you’re burdened. This burden is an awfully high price to pay for retaining control as it makes you moody and distant at times and builds a wall between the two of you.

On the opposite end, not being responsible feels safe because you don’t have to worry. The price you pay here is that you feel disempowered and somewhat inadequate.

You and your partner are both on the same team!

Aim to share the responsibility and learn new skills whenever possible. Once your skills have increased, you may choose to separate the household tasks equally. When you both do your part to share the load out of desire, neither of you feels burdened and it becomes much easier.


Susan Blackburn

Susan Blackburn

About Susan Blackburn:

Susan Blackburn, M.A., C.Psych. is a Registered Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Counsellor & Therapist in Toronto at Yonge Eglinton, a Published Author and a guest Relationship Expert on radio and television.

Susan enjoys working with people to enhance the quality of their lives. Her collaborative psychotherapy and counselling approach offers clients effective tools and strategies to increase happiness, manage stress, find balance, improve confidence, embrace self care and focus on the positive so that they can relax and enjoy life.

Services are covered under most extended health benefits and workplace insurance plans requiring clients be seen by a Registered Psychologist through her registration with the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

Susan is the owner of Susan Blackburn Psychology a boutique therapy private practice located in midtown Toronto at Yonge and Eglinton.

Recent Posts

Book an Appointment!

Sign up and receive our free Stress Relief eGuide!

Download E-Guide

Thank you!

Click here to download Stress Relief eGuide.