A lackadaisical gardener of earthly delights (pgrape) wrote,
A lackadaisical gardener of earthly delights
pgrape

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The Man-Room

This is a phenomenon I have only become aware of in recent years as I have spent more time with married people. I was enraged by it all over again yesterday after talking with a male colleague--forty-ish, an artist, very gentle yet very driven--who has just married his long-time girlfriend. It's a first marriage for both. Throughout the "long-time" they maintained separate apartments, but now they have bought a common residence of some sort and are, as he put it, "meshing." "I have been banished to the garage...it's a little awkward," he said wistfully.

Here's a guy who has done his own thing re: living space for twenty-some years, and clearly has strong ideas about the look and use of his environment. I've seen at least three other guys enter marriage from similar situations over the past couple years. But as soon as married life commences, all that experience of living and learning what constitutes comfort gets put aside. He is allocated a nook somewhere--the basement, the garage--and rigorously corralled there. The woman dictates the domestic space, to the near-exclusion of everything he has done before. I privately imagine the imposition of some homogenously-suburban House Beautiful decor, but of course I don't KNOW that's what she's doing--I just know she is very much doing it.

And if one asks, one almost invariably discovers that the man in such a situation has not done a thing to assert his own position--has not even articulated his position--has simply said, "All right, dear," and shuffled off to vent to third parties. It's easier, they tell me. Not worth fighting over. Not worth Making Her Angry.

When I was younger, it used to puzzle me why there were so many easy phrases like "seven-year itch" and "mid-life crisis" and "empty nest syndrome" that made relationship breakdown seem endemic, possibly inevitable. Nowadays, I can see why the phrases exist, but I still don't get why the behaviors that lead to it are so pervasive. Why on earth would you choose to spend your life with someone who can't tolerate your style or your stuff?
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