Women around the country are speaking out about an issue they’ve quietly dealt with for a long time.
It’s become known as “the mental load,” which, if you haven’t heard about it, refers to what women often see as an unfair divide of parenting and household duties, or emotional and invisible labor. You may think that celebrities are immune to these differences. After all, they can afford a whole staff’s worth of help if they need it. That isn’t the case, however. Busy Philipps recently shared her family’s story and how they got past arguments over “the mental load.”
The 40-year-old actress and husband Marc Silverstein recently sat down for a joint interview with Harper’s Bazaar. In it, they discussed the evolution of their 12-year marriage, especially after they became parents to 11-year-old Birdie Leigh and 6-year-old Cricket Pearl. In the candid interview, Busy admits that there was a point where she was ready to walk away from the marriage because it felt like she had to take on everything on her own. Marc stepped up to the plate when Busy shared how she felt, and it changed their relationship forever.
Busy Philipps is known and loved for her say-it-like-you-mean-it attitude. She’s not a celebrity who carefully chooses her words. In fact, Busy errs on the side of oversharing, and she makes no apologies for it.
It’s for that reason that many are surprised to learn that Busy once found herself at a place in her marriage where she was taking on all the responsibility. She used her voice to put it all on the table, threatening to divorce husband Marc Silverstein if things didn’t change.
“My thinking was that if I leave, at least then maybe I’d get two days off a week,” Busy told author Eve Rodsky in an interview for Harper’s Bazaar. Although she was looking for a break, she understood how circumstances were stacked in her favor.
“I understand that I’m in a place of privilege, and even if I left Marc and I’d been super down on my luck, there was a version of life that I could have made work for me and my daughters,” she added. “This is not the reality for many women.”
Busy found herself pushed to the brink when she realized that her stress and unhappiness was a result of her doing most of the labor of parenting daughters Birdie and Cricket on her own. She put it plainly to Marc.
“Marc was like, ‘I’ll do anything.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, then do everything. Because I have done it all, all by myself, and I’m done, dude.’”
Marc stepped up to the challenge and worked with Busy on rebalancing household and parenting duties. He took over handling meals and wake-up and bedtime routines. “And he made the call: He should be the one to stay home with the kids,” she remembers.
Busy was impressed by how much Marc really committed to the idea. “I was fully out the door,” she recalled. “I wasn’t expecting anything from him, but what we ended up doing was creating our own system.”
“He now loves his mornings with the girls,” Busy explained. “He’ll make my Bulletproof coffee and bring it into the bedroom while I’m still sleeping, and then leave to take the kids to school. He has conversations with them that I’m jealous of. The closeness he now has with these girls, it’s really special.”
Marc also told his side in the interview, explaining how it came to be that Busy felt so alone in the household work. “I like being good at stuff,” he explained. “And I didn’t feel like I was good [in the home], so I stayed away.”
Marc said that Busy’s revelation that she was ready to leave, coupled with therapy, helped him realize the truth. “I realized that deep happiness comes from my family. And once I figured out what I could bring to the table, things changed. I wanted to do more,” he said.
Marc added that emotional communication wasn’t the only thing he needed. He also needed actionable items. “Once Busy said, ‘I need you to put Birdie to bed every night,’ I owned it. And I was good at that. I started with one thing and it grew from there,” he noted.
“Today, Marc literally spends so much time with the girls that they accidentally call me ‘Dad’ sometimes. Like when did that ever happen?” she jokes. Certainly, they’ve turned things around for themselves.
“[In a partnership], you have to decide what works for you. And you have to think about your children,” Busy noted. “I want everything for my girls, but the only way they’re going to believe it’s possible for them is if they see me have it.”
Of course, there will be bumps in the road. Parenting and relationships are inherently flawed processes. Tackling things together has proven to be what’s best for Busy and Marc, and hopefully, she’ll inspire others to get to the bottom of their issues by sharing her own.