It is said that marriages are made in heaven. Some of you may believe this and some of you may not. But regardless of whether a marriage has a heavenly blessing or not the statistics tell us that 40 – 50% will end in divorce. Some believe things like man caves are to blame.
With such a bad success rate asking “is a man cave sexist” and “will having a man cave ruin my marriage” are valid questions to have. But what might surprise you is that a lot of psychological research suggests that allowing your husband to have a man cave could actually strengthen your marriage.
- Busting the myth that man caves ruin marriages
- How a man cave could actually help save your marriage
- The marriage benefits of encouraging him to build a solid relationship with himself
- Taking short periods apart to rejuvenate helps both parties with interpersonal relationships
- A man cave is also a place for creation and recreation
- A man cave can help balance relationships inside and outside the marriage
- Man caving is not a zero-sum game but can be a win-win scenario
- There are caveats though!
- Conclusion: Man caves do not ruin marriages. When used right, it can be the opposite!
- Expert articles from professionals that support the above views
Busting the myth that man caves ruin marriages
Let’s start with the obvious question, do man caves ruin marriages?
Man caves do not ruin marriages. Psychological studies show that taking time to yourself can actually help improve your interpersonal relationships. As long as the wife also has personal space, and the time apart is limited, a man cave can actually help improve a marriage.
Of course there are caveats to this, which I will explore later in this article. But, if a man cave is used correctly, and is not abused, the benefits to the marriage can be numerous, as you are about to learn.
How a man cave can help a man be a better husband
Although the term “man cave” was first used in 1992 in John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, the man cave as an idea have been around for a very long time.
A man cave is basically a room in the home, or a converted outbuilding in the yard, that is dedicated to the male person of the household. It is a space reserved solely for males where the man of the house can indulge in hobbies & favorite activities, hang-out with male friends, or just relax in alone.
A man cave can be set up in any part of the home. Most man caves are created in a garage, basement, spare room or outdoor shed.
Although the name “man cave” applies to a male-specific place the actual concept is not gender specific as there are she caves as well. A she cave is also known as “lady lair” and more commonly a “she shed“.
In this article I intend to demonstrate to you through scientific thinking, which is backed by scientific evidence, that the idea of a man cave is neither sexist nor will it hurt a marriage if it is used right.
In fact, I will show that having both a man cave and a she shed or lady lair is advantageous to your marriage, because the proper use of both will lead to a happier, healthier and more stable relationship.
Let’s delve a bot deeper into that topic.
The myth of the sexist man cave – busted!
A quick internet search of subjects related to man caves being sexist, or if you type in the popular search “man caves ruin marriages”, the results will throw up some damning incitements of this male only space. However, a closer look at these articles shows that most of these pieces are poorly researched and offer only biased personal views.
Most articles that state man caves ruin marriages are poorly researched and only reflect the personal views of the writer, with zero scientific evidence provided.
Some even sound like they are written by embittered women with a grudge and a chip on their shoulder like this one.
However, there are highly educated women, like Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D., who are a lot smarter than me (and the aforementioned article writer), who strongly disagree with the naysayers. Professionals insist that taking time alone is desirable and very helpful for creating healthy relationships.
Articles disparaging man caves are almost always grossly misleading and completely lacking in any real evidence or even substance.
As I have already covered in the article What is a Man Cave and Why Every Man Needs One many modern scientific sources confirm that the introduction of a man cave to your married life could enrich it in multiple ways.
Giving a man his own personal space where he can unwind, and temporarily withdraw from his real-life commitments, can boost everything in his life and the life of his wife.
By providing a place where he can not only recharge his batteries but also contemplate, and formulate plans to move ahead in life or heal divisions in relationships, can help a man become a better husband.
Man caves provide that much-needed personal space away from work and home commitments that can help a man recuperate.
It allows a man to have a space where he can pursue his passions and reconnect to who is he as a person rather than an employee, husband, father etc. This can actually help him to be more present with his family when he is with them.
In short, a man cave can not only help a guy kick-back and enjoy his favorite pastimes but it can also help him with his interpersonal relationships, especially the relationship with his wife.
How a man cave could actually help save your marriage
Men are individuals first (just as women are) and husbands second.
However, when a person gets married, he or she will start to experience life in a paired unit. To ensure that unit functions correctly and smoothly each partner must start to think, act, and make decisions based on a co-existent life with their spouse; they compromise.
Although this is necessary and desirable is does tend to rob a person of their individual identify if they become so immersed in this role that they lose who they are and what they want as an individual. Most women know this all too well!
For this reason the need for personal space never disappears for both partners whether they realise it or not.
Below I have outlined the main ways in which a man cave can help strengthen a marriage when it is used responsibly.
Be aware though that these benefits apply just as much to a she shed or lady lair and are by no means applicable purely to the male of the species.
The marriage benefits of encouraging him to build a solid relationship with himself
When we have time alone to acquaint ourselves with our true selves we strengthen the most important relationship in our lives – the relationship we have with ourselves.
“If cultivating a relationship with ourselves is not worthwhile, what other relationships would be?”, Arnie Kozak, PhD, a psychotherapist and clinical assistant professor in psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. (1)
When a person takes time to build a healthy relationship with themselves they are in a much better place to build healthy relationships with others.
Unless a person has a healthy respect for themselves and their own needs and desires how could they offer that same respect to their partner?
By allowing him to take time-out to honor his own needs and desires a husband is much more likely to honor the needs and desires of others, especially his significant other.
On the flip-side, when a man’s needs and desires are not being met, and they feel that they are just existing to service the needs and desires of others, they tend to feel resentful and this will often bleed into their closest interpersonal relationships.
So taking time-out helps a person become a better partner. Thus a man cave can help a man become a better husband.
Taking short periods apart to rejuvenate helps both parties with interpersonal relationships
As human beings it is a known fact that taking time-out really helps to rejuvenate both mind and body.
A man cave is a retreat where a man can spend some quality “me-time” where he can just relax. It can also be his play area where he can cut loose in the safety of his own home without disturbing other family members.
Alternatively, his man cave can be a place where he can give deep thought to what’s happening in his life, family, business and career, etc.
A man cave allows a guy time alone to contemplate how he wants to shape his own individuality and steer his own success.(2)
When a person has a clear internal image of himself and where he fits in the world, as well as where he wants to go, his thought processes are no longer scattered but are focused. This means he will be most more “present” when he is with family members and his spouse.
In most cases a man is all of the above, having a different purpose at different times.
A man cave is also a place for creation and recreation
Just as time-outs can help rejuvenate mind and body, indulging in short periods of recreational fun and creativity helps light-up your spirit.
As the saying goes “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.
Although marriage comes with certain serious responsibilities and commitments a person still needs to be able to have fun pursuing their own hobbies. Partners do not always agree on what that entails though.
No matter how compatible a person is with his or her spouse there will be certain things that the husband wants to do that the wife is not interested in, and vice-versa.
By being able to indulge in activities that are personally appealing to only him, a husband will be less likely to feel that his needs and desires are being withheld from him.
He will feel that his needs are respected within the marriage and he will be much more likely to yield to the desires of his wife in all other areas.
Having a space to do those things that are interesting to him but uninteresting to his partner also means he doesn’t have to try to cajole his partner into things she is not interested in doing.
A man cave can help balance relationships inside and outside the marriage
It’s not just a marriage that can directly benefit from a man spending short periods of time alone in a man cave. All interpersonal relationships will benefit and this in turn will also help the main relationship with his spouse.
As a human being, we are all tied-up in different kinds of relationships both personally and professionally. Arguably, outside of the marriage the most important of relationships are the ones with close friends.
A man cave can help a guy to cultivate the important male relationships that exist outside of his marriage without negatively affecting his wife.
You need to remember and realize the importance of cultivating and nurturing friendships.
A man cave offers the opportunity for a husband to hang out with his buddies without having to go out to a bar or leave his own home.
And, he can do it without disturbing other members of the family.
Having a space for socializing with friends at home means a guy has all the benefits of friendship outside marriage without the wife encountering any of the risks. (3)
Man caving is not a zero-sum game but can be a win-win scenario
When a guy retreats to his man cave his wife may be left with all the household responsibilities, but she should also be given some “me-time” too when she needs it.
When there is a man cave, it is often a good idea to have a lady lair.
“By spending time with yourself and gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you desire in life, you’re more likely to make better choices about who you want to be around.” Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter. (4)
However, as I will outline below both partners in the marriage need to have somewhere they can kick-back and both need to time in which to do it.
Decades ago men worked and women stayed at home. Men where constantly around other people and rarely got to experience any alone time. A personal den was a great way for them to unwind.
Women in those days usually had the opportunity to steal some quiet time alone during the day when the man was at work and the children were at school, in-between their household chores.
Modern society works a bit differently these.
Many women work these days, while also having the responsibility of running a home and nurturing the family. Even stay-at-home mums can experience a lack of personal space and me-time due to the hectic nature of modern living.
So, a guy can’t simple go into his man cave and expect his wife to look after the kids and perform household chores – she needs space too!
The time a guys spends in his man cave should be equal to the time his wife gets to spend alone as well. (5)
She can utilize that time for her “me-time” in a separate part of the home with friends or else she can expend the time in her lady lair if she has one (which I recommend having).
There are other things to consider also which we will look at now.
There are caveats though!
You and your partner should acknowledge the power of personal space as being is a key factor in helping a marital relationship thrive.
However, there are key points to consider.
Personal space may be one key to a healthy relationship but it is only one, and it is a double-edged sword as you will see.
Wives need time-outs too!
Just as a guy needs time alone for all the reasons covered above, a woman needs time alone for all the same reasons.
When using a man cave it is not always possible to give your wife the same space at the same time, especially if you have kids that need to be supervised.
However, this does not mean that your wife should not be given the same courtesy and opportunity for some “me time” or time with her girlfriends.
For this reason it is always advisable to create a lady lair or she shed as well as a man cave.
I covered this subject in the article what is a shed and why every woman needs one.
If there is not enough available space for both a man cave and a lady lair then the husband must ensure his wife has some form of kick-back space.
He also absolutely must ensure she also has the time to use it!
If you need to, then both wife and husband must decide upon set times for each to use their own me-time and that time should be distributed evenly.
If one partner is a home-maker that person may find that they can take a time-out during the day when the kids are at school and the other partner is at work.
If both partners work or have busy schedules then a compromise should be agreed upon where the time can be split evenly.
Time alone in a den should be restricted and never abused
Water is the elixir of life and is essential for maintaining life. Go just 10 days without water and you will most likely die. However, drinking too much water in one sitting leads to hyponatremia, a condition of low-sodium in the blood that has uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, loss of energy, drowsiness and fatigue. In serious cases it can lead to seizures, coma and even death.
The point I am making is that you can have “too much of a good thing” no matter how “good” that thing is!
I have provided a lot of scientifically backed evidence to show how creating, and properly using, a man cave can help you strengthen your marriage. But, there are dangers to the over-use of a man cave that I must also outline here.
When a man cave is properly, and purposefully, used then this personal haven can be a marriage-strengthener and even a marriage-saver.
But, if it is overused or abused, it could very quickly become a marriage-wrecker!
It is unhealthy for partners in a relationship to spend large amounts of time away from one and other. Therefore it is unhealthy for a guy to spend large amounts of time in his man cave neglecting other members of his family and his wife.
A husband should never spend all his time in his man cave.
Below I have outlined how a man cave should not be used – ever!
Although I’ve outlined ways in which a man should not be used these reasons apply equally as well to a lady lair or she shed.
4 ways in which a man cave should never be used!
Below is a list of the common uses of a man cave that lead to marriage breakdowns.
I have listed them as “do nots”.
A man cave should never be used as an escape from life or a place where you “hide” from your partner.
A man cave is not:
- A place to escape from family responsibilities.
- A place to hide from your partner.
- Somewhere to engage in self-destructive pursuits.
- A male-only spot where you give more time and importance to your friends than your family.
Conclusion: Man caves do not ruin marriages. When used right, it can be the opposite!
There are a lot of popular articles which claim that having a man cave hurts your relationship. There is a growing trend to point the finger at toxic masculinity and berate anything that even slightly favors a man.
Almost all of the articles that paint a negative picture of the man cave rely on pure personal opinion and offer only wild speculation.
The truth is simple: there are scientifically backed experts who claim the exact opposite of what these sources promote. (6)
For the married man reading this article I say this:
- Explain the benefits of a man cave to your wife.
- Build the man cave.
- Spend time in it.
- Have fun it.
- Recharge your batteries in it.
- Make sure your wife also has a lady lair or she shed where she can do the same thing!
- Make sure you both get an equal amount of downtime.
Used correctly time spent in a man cave can be productive and life-enhancing for both husband and wife.
When overused and abused, to the detriment of your marriage and family, a man cave can be destructive.
Use it wisely!
For the woman reading this article I say:
- Encourage your husband to create a man cave.
- Let him spend quality time in it.
- Explain to him the potential problems that can arise from its overuse or abuse.
- Create your own personal space … and use it!
- Make sure time spent alone is limited and fairly distributed between both of you.
The truth is that the belief that man caves ruin marriages is based on outdated, and often very personal, views that have no foundation in fact. The opposite is true.
There is lots of solid, well researched, scientific evidence that supports the view that man caves, when used properly, can help a marriage grow stronger.
So, follow the above simple advice and you will find that having your own personal dens will help you to be more present with each other.
Expert articles from professionals that support the above views
(1) https://www.nbcnews.com/better/wellness/why-you-should-spend-more-time-alone-n750966 – cites Arnie Kozak, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor in psychiatry at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine.
(2) Psychology Today – https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/emotional-nourishment/201812/the-benefits-spending-time-alone
(3) The Risks & Benefits of Friendships Outside Marriage – https://www.marriage.com/blog/friendship-in-marriage/risks-benefits-of-friendships-outside-marriage/
(4) Psyalive – https://www.psychalive.org/being-alone/
(6) Why Alone Time Is The Key To A Successful Marriage – https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-secret-to-relationshi_n_4326246