"He Completely Dismissed the Overwhelm" — Woman Shares Example of Domestic Engineering

Chrissy Bobic - Author

Aug. 24 2023, Published 1:56 p.m. ET

Most adults can sympathize with feelings of being overwhelmed with housework, jobs, and everything in between. So when you have a partner who just can't quite pick up the slack, it makes things worse. And in one TikTok video, a user by the name of @ThatDarnChat, whose real name is Laura, explains that it's all part of something called "domestic engineering."

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In the video, she shares another video from someone else's TikTok that shows what it is in action. A woman in that video explains everything she needs to get done at home, while expressing how each task reminds her of another task that needs to get done to complete that task and so on. I know I've experienced this countless times and, like the woman in the video, my partner doesn't seem to totally understand how much of a mental load is created.

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A woman explained what domestic engineering is.

In her video, Laura shares the other TikTok video, from a couple’s account called @wearedanandsam. The video shows the wife, who explains she is “overwhelmed” with everything she has to do in the home, starting with cleaning the house. But when she realizes she's hungry and wants to make herself carrot juice, she can't because there aren’t any clean glasses.

From there, she goes to the sink and then opens the dishwasher, to see that it's full of clean dishes that she feels she now has to put away. And this continues as her husband follows her into the bedroom, where she explains there is still a lot to do that she feels falls on her. These feelings are still there when her husband offers to make her carrot juice (which is the least of her troubles) and urges her to take a nap.

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“I can't take a nap,” she says. “The bed is a disaster, there’s clothes on it, and they need to be put away and folded.” And, in addition to her other stressors, this is a valid concern on top of everything else that is seen as a mental burden.

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After this, Laura, the user who re-posted this video, explains that the woman “perfectly captures the experience of domestic engineering.” According to Laura, it’s when someone’s tasks in the house all intersect with one another but they don’t have help from their partner.

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Laura explains that the husband in the video “completely dismissed the overwhelm” by telling his wife to take a nap and making light of her feelings. The worst part is that they are now in “the nag paradox.”

It means that, no matter how the wife in this scenario gives her husband directions or holds him to a certain standard in helping her, she is seen negatively. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been stuck in one of these (FYI, I’m currently raising one hand and typing with the other).

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Others shared how their feelings of being overwhelmed at home are similar.

The best thing the husband or partner can do in this scenario is to tackle some of the things listed without being asked and without doing the simplest of tasks. In this case, the carrot juice is the easy way out. By telling his wife to relax, he’s still doing her a disservice, because he isn't making relaxation possible without real help.

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And people in these situations aren’t alone. One user commented, “So true. I’ve never heard of domestic engineering… It’s so exhausting when nobody wants to help and then acts like it’s not a big deal but they aren’t.”

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Another shared, “The nap suggestion is infuriating. I’m not a tired toddler. I’m [an] adult who is breaking under all this mental pressure.” Regardless of whether your partner knows they’re doing it, or are waiting for directions, the lack of help is an added stressor for many.

If I could take a nap and wake up to everything that I feel weighing on my shoulders as a wife and mother done and not haphazardly, it would be a literal dream. But that just isn't reality when you’re dealing with domestic engineering.

As some users pointed out, there is more to the original video, wherein the man does help with the chores listed and things turn out a lot better for the pair. But the point is still here, and it’s something that so many of us can relate to.

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