The “man cave,” an area of the house set aside exclusively for use by the man in a relationship, is a concept that’s probably as old as time, but it’s still very much a part of the lives of many modern cohabiting couples. Why is it such an enticing concept?
For all the clichés about boorish behavior and dirty dishes, a man cave can actually help a couple stay organized, both physically and emotionally. If you need to clear clutter out of some of your communal spaces, like your living room or bedroom, or if you and your partner are drowning in the constant accompaniment that often comes with living together, then a man cave might be just what the doctor ordered. Clear out a room or rent a storage unit and the extra space could save your relationship!
The (Wo)Man Cave
Big Yellow Self Storage, a storage company based in the United Kingdom, commissioned a survey recently to find out more about the man cave phenomenon. The results were resounding: People, men and women alike, enjoy the man cave.
Though the term “man cave” is the most popular way to refer to designating a room as belonging to one person exclusively, it need not be a gender-specific term. A “woman cave” can function just as well because the goal of a man cave is not to celebrate masculinity but to promote personal space, something that can be hard to come by when living with another person.
The man cave (or woman cave) itself can range from a workshop to a high tech entertainment room to a bar or even a library – whatever works best for the person setting the room aside as their own.
Benefits of the Man Cave
An article from SheKnows.com lays out a few basic benefits to the man cave:
- Acts as extra storage space
- Allows one to work at home without distractions
- Keeps house free from clutter
- Provides much-needed personal space
These can all work together to make the home and the relationship better. With most of the man’s stuff out of the way, the rest of the house can more easily stay clean and organized. And, as a woman named Yasmin says in the article, it provides space for both.
Personal space, of course, can be very important in a relationship. It is not – or at least should not be – about power or control over the physical space that the two people in the relationship occupy. Rather, it is about the necessary navigation between two very distinct needs – bonding time spent together and recharging time spent alone.
This can be a difficult balance to get right. Some people need more alone time to be happy, while others prefer the presence of other people almost exclusively. Communication is the most important thing. If a man cave or woman cave is what’s right for your relationship, it should be a mutual decision that makes both of you more comfortable.
Drawbacks of the Man Cave
If it’s not a mutual decision or the personal space is abused, then a man cave can serve as a warning sign. In a blog post at Psychology Today, J.R. Bruns, M.D. in Repairing Relationships, warns that it can be “a symptom of a basic structural flaw in [a couple’s] union.” If the man feels forced to create a man cave because he has no control over the rest of the house, then there is a fundamental imbalance that a small private space will probably not overcome.
It can also be a sign of withdrawal or of distance growing between a couple. If the man cave becomes a place of escape and not a place of necessary relaxation or introspection, then it will only hurt instead of help the relationship.
You also don’t want a man cave to become a place populated by dirty dishes and empty beer bottles. While less dire than the previous potential scenarios, this one can still cause a lot of strain on a relationship.
How to Create Space for a Man Cave
Once you’ve talked it over with your partner and decided that a man cave would be beneficial, you have to find the space to make one. Most houses are cluttered enough as it is, and shuffling everything out of one room to make space for a man cave can be a significant issue.
When in need of organization advice, there’s no one better to turn to than Peter Walsh. The author and television host has a knack of cutting through to the root causes of clutter and disorganization. His insight is just as keen when examining interpersonal relationships.
With this in mind, tackle things together. Decide as a couple what to put in the man cave and what to leave elsewhere. Avoid saying “you” and “I” and instead say “we.” The man cave may be a room set aside mostly for use by a single person, but it is a tool that should strengthen the entire relationship.
If you find the two of you have too many things to clear out an entire room of the house, stop by your nearest storage company and rent a unit for some extra space. Alternatively, you can simply make the storage unit your man cave and keep your rooms as they are at home.