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The Secret To a Happy Marriage May Be Easier Than You Think

Photograph by Twenty20

Years ago when our daughters were young, my husband had a man cave. Sure, from the outside it looked like just another bedroom in our suburban home, but step inside and you would have been transported to a whole new world, one that was far from the influences of our female-centric home. You wouldn’t find any dolls, nail polish or books of crock-pot recipes here – only guitars, amps and sports gear, and vintage album covers studding the walls. If you listened closely you could almost hear the sound of fists beating on chests.

Sadly, my husband’s sacred space met its demise once our girls became teens and needed their own rooms. He had to sacrifice his man cave, and in a matter of hours it was painted violet, papered with anime posters and filled with the overwhelming aroma of peach body spray. His new “man cave” now consists of a desk shoved into the corner of our bedroom, often draped with bras, leggings or my latest issue of People.

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But I’m all for him having his own space, so we’re trying to figure out a way to carve out a special place for him, somewhere he can let it all hang out, be his own person and let his man-flag fly.

So, how important is a man cave anyway?

Pretty vital, especially if your husband is the less-tidy one. “My husband's man cave is his home office, where he's free to be a messy pack rat,” says Jennie W. “Because he has his own space there, he's much better about keeping the rest of the house tidy, so I think they're great!”

And a separate domain may be absolutely necessary if your husband’s interests—and decor—don’t exactly jibe with yours. “[Man caves] are necessary to a happy home. Big TV, fridge full of craft beer, treadmill, dead animals hanging on the walls. I don't go down there unless I have to,” emphasizes Gaye T. “My library/study/crafts room is on a different floor. Built-in bookshelves, no TV or dead animals. Everyone is happy.”

Now companies are catering to the increasing need for husbands and wives to have their separate spaces. Phil Worth, VP of marketing for Tuff Shed, Inc., says that they’ve seen their customers increasingly request their products—previously mostly used for storage—be converted into man caves.

“The main use of the backyard shed historically had been to store lawn and garden equipment or household goods,” he says. “The man cave conversation seemed to begin in the early 2000s as men were looking to reclaim some guy space in the garage, basement or the backyard shed.”

And solace spaces aren’t just for guys. Worth says "she sheds" are becoming increasingly popular, too. “The she shed conversation is more recent and really coincided more with the trend of homeowners wanting to incorporate the backyard into their living space. We’ve seen this trend really gain steam in 2015 and continue to gain in popularity last year.

But not all men see the man sanctuary as an entirely positive idea. “It's sort of sad that they exist at all,” Charlie K. says wistfully. ”Because as a concept it says, ‘you don't belong in the rest of the house. We have to take all your stuff and put it somewhere else out of the way.’ But on the other hand, it's nice to have a retreat,” he continues.

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My friend Craig stresses that the testosterone domains are essential to a happy co-existence with your partner. “Every man needs a man cave. Man caves keep relationships healthy.” When I asked him what was in his cave he simply replied, “Whatever it takes to put the MAN in man cave.”

And with that I nodded in agreement and cleared my pantyhose and crockpot cookbook off my husband’s desk, just to give him a little manly space of his own.

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