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What A Wife Isn’t (Part I)


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

While we’re on the topic of the (frankly horrific and emotionally impoverishing) wedding/marriage sexism directed towards men, can we talk about this email that made me snarf water through my nose?

Meg,

While we’re reclaiming the idea of wife, could we make sure we get the right job description for it? A wife is not a husband trainer. Yet more than once since our wedding in November I’ve been asked if I’ve trained my husband yet. The last time was in his presence and he answered by saying that I already liked how he did things, that’s why I married him. Yes! That’s it exactly.

Thanks.
Lisa

Because seriously. We’ve been watching a lot of HGTV recently (you get this with your newlywed status, I didn’t even know it existed pre-wedding) and the concept of the ‘man cave’ keeps coming up on every show. And everytime I yell at the TV “What the m*ther f*cking f*ck with the MAN CAVE already? He only gets ONE ROOM???” And David shakes his head and sighs. Because you know, David’s man cave is the kitchen… and also the rest of the house, since he cares as much about it as I do.

So since these horrible conversations all seem to come from generally the same people/ line of societal discourse, in some horrible way, it makes sense. Because if someone told you getting married meant you were going to get trained, and then given only one room in the house, and then your wife would be in charge of your entire social calendar… wouldn’t you think getting married was a mistake? I effing would.

So here is to more men who cook and decorate and are allowed in all rooms of the house and keep their own calendar and can dress themselves and can express a range of emotions and can change a diaper without fear and can hold up their end of cocktail party conversation and don’t let their (super bossy) wives boss them around. Because THOSE guys are the marrying type.

UPDATE: I’m sort of shocked that I’m having to post this disclaimer… but… I’m NOT saying that partners shouldn’t have personal spaces or hobby rooms in their homes (um, obviously). I’m talking about sexist terms, and the way we culturally discuss marriage and gender roles. I’m talking about the way wives are somehow viewed as being in control of the household (for better or worse), while husbands are shuttled off to a back room somewhere. So lets all relax a bit, go to our respective hobby rooms, and breath deeply.

PS This is Part I, because somehow I have the sneaking suspicion that there are lots of other things wives are not… and we’ll figure them out.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02808981371272030390 Cupcake Wedding

    As a Ms. Bossy pants, let me say that if a guy let me boss him around all of the time, I would not respect him, and, therefore, could not marry him. I also could not marry a guy on the notion that I could fix him up, because doesn't everyone know that ends up in divorce and/or deep resentment?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06939655050839177513 thehickbride

    Hurray! I agree, I'm so sick of that whole shbang. I've been asked a few times if I've started training him yet to be a husband.

    We spend our time training our dog, my significant other is not my pet, therefore I will never train him.

    We've already been living together for over a year and a half, the quirks he has now are permanent ones, but hey big shocker, I still freaking love him!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10972465903387097782 Jen

    appropriate responses:

    as meg said, "I already liked him – thats why I married him!"

    "I married him because I liked him, not because of his pedigree"

    "I married him to gain a partner…not a pet"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03534900102032292325 writtenbliss

    Amen! Seriously!

    I have to admit that I was brainwahsed in this area. I thought I should have full reign of the decorating and he that we could find a place out of the way for his stuff. But you know what? My man is man enough to stand up to me when I'm wrong. And I love him enough to tell him I'm sorry. My husband doesn't need me to train him any more than I need him to train me. We're learning from each other and growing together. The idea of women training men is an insidious lie that breaks down our marriages and our husbands.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11097163969864312650 K

    HGTV! <3

    and i am RIGHT with you re. the man cave. everytime they those words i cringe.

  • Annie

    My fiance wants a "man cave." He wants a "man cave" and I want a "craft room." We want these because we don't want our future home to be a baseball/history/ribbon/modgepodge glue explosion! It has nothing to do with me being controlling or wanting to mandate the decoration scheme of the whole house. Though, I have seen plenty of men who have man caves because they literally have no say in anything else in their home. And that is utterly pathetic and sad.

  • http://oooooohshiny.blogspot.com Pink Heli

    I totally agree! My husband was already pretty civilized; no training needed! Though he does sort of have a 'man cave'. It really is a cave though. Not one of these fancypants big-screen pool-table bar things. It's more like a big walkin closet in the unfinished basement where he keeps all his extra nerdy computer gear.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12997875522614810785 Mouse

    Wow, I have never heard of the man cave til now. Yikes, HGTV, isn't the idea to form an equal partnership? Perhaps this is where all those horrible and derogatory words for wife
    (the old ball and chain, etc) come from.

    Anyway, we have our own offices, which is where each of us keeps our work and our mess, but the house is both of ours and I wouldn't have it any other way.

  • Anonymous

    Because if someone told you getting married meant you were going to get trained, and then given only one room in the house, and then your wife would be in charge of your entire social calendar… wouldn't you think getting married was a mistake? I effing would.

    THIS.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11575834126606152875 miss fancy pants (the bride)

    I'm going to have to agree with Cupcake on this one… if I were able to step all over a guy 100% of the time, I would never want to marry him.

    And I think you're right Meg, all of these messages are definitely coming from many of the same sources, and now that you point it out, it makes total sense why guys wouldn't want to get married! It's as if the bride is saying "hey, come strap yourself to me for all eternity so I can verbally abuse/degrade you, isolate you within one room of the house and ignore all of your emotions and opinions". Wow. Sounds like fun.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06990466546123333194 Kyley

    Oh, man, the man caves! It drives me crazy! My single friend just bought a house and was giving me a tour and was like, "Let me show you the basement. It is my man cave." whhaa? You own this whole huge house!!

    Anyway, the thing that drives me crazy is that a) men are only allowed one room but also b) women don't get a designated "fun hang out room." You get the kitchen! and the laundry room!

    If my 1 bdrm were big enough for any kind of a fun, hang-out cave it would be for BOTH OF US. And it would have air hockey.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14407339959089381343 J

    A-freaking-men! One of the big things that annoyed me was when we got engaged, people started asking me questions about when I was going to start planning my wedding. Not US planning OUR wedding together, but ME planning it BY MYSELF. Because you know, we women be wedding crazy, dragging men into marriage against their will! Ugh.
    A marriage is a partnership, not a unilateral decision and we felt strongly about this so we figured what better way to reinforce that then to plan day one of our marriage together? I took care of the logistics and he did the creative stuff. Bing, bang, boom – awesome wedding.
    (P.S. Love you blog! Only discovered the wedding graduate series after I got married in 2008, but I recommend it to my engaged friends. So good!)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03429404210444847213 lauren

    i just heard a great phrase, in reference to letting culture structure your working definition of things like love and partnership. examples can be instructive, but at the end of the day (as this guy put it) versions fabricated by other people are "pollution in the river of your own experience."

    that's a little woo-woo sounding, but i think there's a lot of truth in it. we've done our time in front of HGTV, too (joe and the house-hunting shows…it's a little disturbing, really), but it's useful to think of marriage-via-media as shiny stuff that doesn't actually belong in the current what you yourself know to be true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01390627453974953641 Frugalista

    I have to wonder what it says about the marriage if a man really feels the need to have a man cave. What is he hiding from? Oh, and I constantly watch HGTV too. I am a house hunters, property virgin, and my first place addict!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17793704844457938554 South Nashville Life

    My husband keeps talking about wanting a 'man cave' where he can have a giant flat screen and watch football and play Wii.

    Whenever he brings it up I want to scream, "I like all of those things too! Why does it have to be a 'man cave'? Why can't it just be 'Our Cave'?"

  • Anonymous

    Um I want a woman cave, that sounds so fun like it would be full of fuzzy rugs and stalactites. Like a fort when you were a kid. But I agree banishing anyone to a single room is a no. No man cave (unless it could be a people cave with said fuzzy rugs) and no woman in the kitchen etc… Although I do keep my husband out of the kitchen, but that's because he's a shit cook and will probably set something on fire. He can make a mean ice cream sundae though

  • Chris

    Well said!
    I am marrying my partner becasue of who he is, not who I think I can turn him into. The endless comments I get from women at my workplace and out in the community about the fact that he does the majority of the cooking (WHAT?!) and that sometimes I "let" him have his own social life (DANGER!). And heaven forbid the question of children should come up. We've decided that we may not want to have children. Well, that's just unnatural!
    ::end rant:;
    Thanks for this post and for your whole blog in general. It keeps me sane, amused and informed while we struggle to plan our wedding celebration.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11268259116470796202 susie Q

    where i come from, we call it "man town" and my mister really wants one! probably because it generally includes some exposed/unfinished brick wall, a neon beer sign, sports paraphernalia, a lingering musty smell and of course, a bar :)

    still, we share decorating duties and i don't think of our marriage as training at all. if anything, I'M getting trained in how to share my every waking moment and every inch of my precious living space with someone. he seems totally cool with that. other than that, we hone our training skills on sausage (our dog).

    and i must say, all sexism aside, i've always loved HGTV. and "man town." :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11854891640925870685 Emily

    I love this!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02189637917666578405 Allison

    SOMETIMES I do wish that he would dress a little better or learn how to cook more than spaghetti but you know, it's not that big of a deal because I fell in love with him this way and I wouldn't want to change him because doesn't that defeat the purpose?
    We just bought our first home and I am enjoying decorating it TOGETHER because we are both living there. Yes, I may have more of an eye for desing or whatever but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have good taste either.
    And yes SOMETIMES I do want to turn the basement into a "game room" so that he can play Madden10 and I don't have to listen to the stupid commentary.

  • Jessica

    Ugh, I was out with friends a few months ago and when my fiance didn't want to go out with us one friend turns to me and says "you should call him, I mean can't you just MAKE him come?". I almost lost my lunch. And sad to say, but I know a lot of people who feel this way.

    I think you bring a lot more to the relationship when you BOTH have your own sense of self and the person you're with isn't some hen pecked, scared-to-express-themselves borefest. Man Cave my ass.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06008386302876377978 Lyssachelle

    Hell, I want a Man Cave. A whole room to myself where I can drink beer and watch NCIS and play my music as loud as I want? SIGN ME UP!
    [Okay, disclaimer. This cave would also have a sewing machine, Buffy DVD's and the music would be Patty Griffin or old school R&B…but; there would still be copious amounts of beer and NCIS.]

    And honestly, my husband would be DELIGHTED if I was the social director on our cruise ship of love. Partially because he's self-admittedly lazy, and partially because he has a bit of social anxiety and is SUPER shy. (Apparently asking me out was kind of a miracle.) And because he is a bit of a good ol' boy, he might be okay with a modified version of a "yes, dear" marriage. But I'M not. I think I am sort of training him, but in the "Nah uh. You have to remember to do that. I'm not your mama." But I prefer to think of it as learning together…

    So I just smile and say something non-committal when I get training type questions and move on. Because if I got all fired up every time someone said something stupid, I'd be perpetually pissed off.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00379596904318935981 Liz

    psh. this series is gonna last forever.

    i hate men that let women push them around. it's the opposite of masculine.

    i hate women who need to control everything around them.

    why is this the accepted standard?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02986236095577713549 CaitStClair | A Peachy Bride

    I honestly don't understand what all the fuss about "man caves" is about. All the ones I've seen are a retreat, not a cage. Are you really saying it's not ok for couples to have their own spaces within their home?
    I love my husband to bits and want to be next to him 98% of the time but I'm also an introvert. I need my own space. He is not. He is the definition of extroverted and so if he has his own space to entertain in that doesn't take over the whole house (the only downside to these beautiful open concept homes) then so much the better!
    Rather than viewing them as divisive and derogatory I think they can be quite healthy.

    **This is all assuming that the husband ISN'T relegated to that single room and not allowed any input else where. And of course that it's not a Boys Only club.

  • Anonymous

    That's hilarious! I watch HGTV all the time, and I made the exact same comment regarding the "man cave" just this past week. And the other thing that always cracks both of us up is how much emphasis everyone puts on the double sinks!! Seriously, we can both brush our teeth in the same sink.

    Thanks so much for always putting a smile on my face and seeing the humor in life!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Susie
    Man town. I kind of love that.

    @Lysachelle
    'I'm not your mamma.' Indeed ;)

    All – Psh. Of course people can have their own spaces… and man and lady caves if that's how you roll. But that's not really what I'm talking about (see post). I mean, we don't have enough SPACE for any kind of caves, but we just have desks, no religating of anyone to everywhere. The house? It's ours. Our spaces? They are just our spaces (and they are not really gendered spaces, in our case.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12095127115348973647 Jessamyn Harris

    ha ha, my husband totally has a "man cave" – okay, sort of an office, but it's not because I get the rest of the house to myself (except for my own office), it's because if left to his own devices, he would literally put any old crap anywhere and it would be horribleness. this is the boy I've known since he was 14, who told me before we lived together that he preferred to wait until his room had mountains of stuff so you couldn't walk, then spend a weekend cleaning the whole thing, then let it build up again (whereas I prefer to keep things basically neat, all of the time). so the "cave" is because it is dark and dank and filled with his junk and I often can't walk into it because of the ten million cords and keyboards and boxes o' crapola.
    we are really lucky to be able to have the space to do that. sometimes it does bum me out that I spend more time in the house and he spends more time in his office/ cave – I prefer to clean the kitchen and cook and he prefers to clean the garage and build shelves and rake the leaves – and I question us falling into these roles and get nervous. But then we both come into the living room to play video games together, or go out to work on the garden together, or he vaccuums because he loves it and I get to sit with my feet up.
    believe me, I wish he cared more about decor, and he sometimes does – but sometimes we fall into those husband/ wife cliches and we just have to trust that we're still us and not some modern Stepford version of us! I think not having cable or going to the mall helps with that ;)

  • bex

    While I would certainly never say either my partner or I 'trains' the other, we definately help eachother grow and develop new skills; particularly new skills that help us co-exist together.

    ex: he frequently avoids talking to his parents which lately has led to them trying to communicate to him through me. This is NOT okay with me & so we had a discussion about it… Then there are many times he's the one that sits me down over something…. like proper cleanup of our home-renovation tools (Looks like we're all HGTV obsessed! :) ) or not trying to use the garbage disposal to put 1/2pound of carrot skins down the drain.

    Couldn't these examples be considered by some to be 'training'?

  • Michele

    Seriously, what is it about having signed my name on a marriage license that suddenly made me so enamored of HGTV? Because I'd never seen a single episode of a single show on that network prior to this little marriage experiment and now I can't get enough of it. WTF?

    Anyway, I'm a big, big advocate of each partner have their own domain within the home – space permitting. I hate the stupid names we use to define them, but I love the concept.

    Because as much as I love my husband, and as much as I respect and appreciate all of the ways in which he is different from me, and have no desire to train him to be something other than what he is – the bottom line is that I DON'T WANT a Guinness Snowboard hanging on the living room wall. I just don't. Or a University of Oregon flag, a Seattle Seahawks Jersey, or a TOOL poster. But I DO want him to have those things, because he loves them. And so, in our house, there is a room where there is a HUGE, incredibly ugly (yet comfortable) recliner that he can sit in all day long if he wants to, and he can play X-Box to his heart's content and display all of his favorite paraphenelia, and never, ever clean if he doesn't feel like it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00357563330469281240 aliciajane

    Ya, we have a man fort… My guy moved in to my house after I had lived her for 5 years. It was already decorated, we added photos of his family and what not, added art that he liked. But I felt sad that he didn't have any real space for all of his things. I love me some band posters, and dart boards, but that doesn't really fit with all the random art from all over the world that we have collected to decorate the house.

    So I got busy building him his own space, which is the whole basement, I even surprised him and built a bar and shelves to display his shot glass collection. He loves it and brags to all his friends about it…

    So… I don't really think having a man fort, or cave or whatever room is bad at all. Its just another room in our house that happens to be all guy.

    As for training, thats just sad! I'm with my guy because I love him, and who he is, not because I want to change him. Though it would be nice if he didn't fart so much :) ha!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12977525202055990615 MaryKate

    It's funny, because the whole "man cave" idea– in general, a place where he can decorate it with sports and beer paraphernalia and watch TV with the guys– sounds exactly like *my* plans for the living room in our new place. I've been flipping through catalogs looking for some decorations and furniture related to our favorite teams, and toying with the idea of a bigger TV to watch it on. My boyfriend certainly likes the idea, but it was all mine!

    My boyfriend has also specifically asked me if I could teach him how to cook (although I'm not very good), and he asked me how to do laundry, I showed him once and he always does it. *That* to me is an ideal relationship- he wants to learn this things of his own accord, and I'm not bashing him over the head saying "wear a button down shirt" or "do the laundry." In fact, he's much cleaner than I am!

    Living in a one-bedroom apartment, it's hard to "have your own space" so we have become very good at sharing– there's really not many things that one of us likes that the other doesn't (or at least can tolerate). I can't imagine being with someone who I felt was so screwed up that I had to train him to act differently. I've dated boys who were like that before…so I dumped them! You just can't change people like that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388295799913646592 “T-Bone” Lee

    I don't even have much to say…..for once….because you said it all…I HATE HATE HATE the portrayal of men as dumb children who cannot take care of themselves, their lives, the house or children in commercials, movies, tv shows etc. It makes me ANGRY! My fiance is incredibly handy (we're remodeling our house ourselves), cares about design, likes nice things, is very smart, can mingle the shit out of a cocktail party, can be trusted to grocery shop, is an excellent cook and will be an amazing father. THAT'S why I'm marrying him. I don't have the time or desire to change/train a man.

    Ok. I guess I did have something to say.

  • Rachel

    I almost broke up with my now-fiance several times in our early dating time because I thought he was too nice to ever stand up to me and I thought I NEEDED someone to push me back. I snapped at him once and he almost left, and I haven't done it since!

    If anything, Dan trained me (well, okay, taught me) not to be a bitch just because I have the capability. I am a better person because I've learned to evaluate and decipher real emotions from crocodile tears and only speak up when it really matters, and then to always be respectful of BOTH of us!

  • Michele

    T-Bone: My husband is not particularly handy, knows very little (and cares even less) about design, likes some nice things as well as a lot of not-so-nice things, is pretty smart, can mingle the shit out of a cocktail party, most definitely CAN NOT be trusted to grocery shop, is an excellent cook and would probably be an amazing father if he really wanted to…

    And I love him anyway. :)

    Likewise, I am incredibly handy (for more so than him), know fuckall about design, like nice things but don't like paying for them, am not nearly as smart as I'd like to think I am, can mingle the shit out of a cocktail party, absolutely LOVE to grocery shop, am an excellent cook, and would probably be a pretty mediocre mother.

    And he loves me anyway. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10323993039912422459 Kristie B

    I'm also a total Ms. Bossy Pants. D, thank goodness, has learned to deal with it over the years and stand up to me (much like how I've learned to deal with his moodiness).

    A woman's place is NOT the home (ie. kitchen). So, she alone should not be deciding on it's decorating scheme. As someone with a pretty decent design eye, it was actually really important for me to know that D and I had a similar decorating style before I moved in. It may seem silly to some people, but if he favored traditional or old world to my quirky/modern/mid-century/woodland/beach house style, I don't know if we would have worked. I loved that in his own house D has (gorgeous) apple green linen pillows on his couch and a vintage teak coffee table.

    With that said, I don't like a tv being the center of my living room, or D's recording equipment and guitars in my space – the same way he hates when I craft on the kitchen table or leave yarn balls all over our coffee table. We talk seriously about having a house that has "Man Land," his recording studio, gaming room and an "Art Studio" for all of my creative mess. We are both really big on having places to disappear to that are just ours (maybe too many years of living independent before finding a partner). I need that space to just be alone, me, without D, the dogs, the phone… That way our personal stuff is in separate spaces that we decorate how ever we want without the other person's input (white lacquered furniture!) and we can live in the house communally. We actually both really suck at sharing.

    To be honest, the idea of living in a whole house with someone sharing EVERYTHING makes me really nervous. If we could afford it, I'm sure D and I would have 3 homes. The one he lived in, the one I live in and the one we share together. We both really really like our own space.

  • http://productjunkiesrehab.wordpress.com/ Jordan

    My dry cleaner actually asked me a few days ago if I had already made dinner for my husband. I replied, "No, actually he does all the cooking." And she gave me a very ominous look and said, "ohhh, that's not normal…you should cook for your husband." Um, ok.

  • Liz

    I think there are really two different things going on here, and it's important to keep them separate. First is the general idea that it can be nice to have one's own space in house that you share. My husband and I are way to broke for that, but I will admit to fantasies about an office that I share with *nobody* and a couch I can take undisturbed naps on. The second is the assumption that only MEN need that kind of space, because it is women who are in control of, and make decisions about, the rest of the house. Which sucks, for both partners, since the women's part of the house is (not coincidentally) where all the domestic labor happens.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11616638527985079172 elyse

    my fiance and i won't be living together until after the wedding, and all we talk about is the giant flat screen and wii we plan to buy as soon as we move in together. for both of us! (oh, and cable, which we both canceled to save money, so we can start watching house hunters again!)

    the best so far though, were the comments i got after we registered, assuming i had to 'drag him around' and how 'thats why they invented the scanner gun.' seriously? he was more into registering than i was! nevermind the good practice in figuring out how to make us both happy, because we both have very different taste!

    besides, the cost of living in boston is so high, we'll probably be sharing one small cave, never mind space for him to call his own!

    great topic!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05178474543832572708 Printable Press

    This very same conversation came up just last night with my hubby, but in the opposite way–I told him he better read Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" because while he grew up in a family of 8 kids and gets a tad fidgety when alone, I need some solo-time like I need air. Or at least like I need wine. When we someday get a house, he gets the basement for his woodshop, and I get to build a studio in the backyard. Because this wife isn't always going to go to bed at the same time and sometimes wants to watch movies into the wee hours of the morning.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04356655617475615318 SG

    Right now my fiance has a "man closet" since we don't have space for him to have a whole "cave" and it doesn't bother me, it's where he keeps all his fishing/hunting stuff and eventually can be a place to hide all his hideous "art" like his dogs playing poker so that I don't have to look at them and he doesn't have to throw them away.

  • irene

    I am with the latest Sarah comment — yes, I am 'training' my partner, in terms of 'this is what I expect from you as a fellow adult'. We don't live together, but the few times he has helped me with the mundane chores around my place I was shocked to see how he kept waiting for me to correct him and tell him he was doing it all wrong. Because that's what his mom does to him IN HIS OWN HOUSE. Me? Load the dishwasher however you want, put them away in the drawers you find their buddies in, fold towels to be small enough to fit in the tiny closet. My one thing are socks – he naturally balls clean socks up in a way that looks very much like how I ball up dirty socks.

    So, my point is that this is a perpetuating cycle begun by well-meaning mothers of another generation, who raise men thinking that there are certain places they don't belong. Or things that they will never do right.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15452082852708707013 Peacock Feathers and Diamond Rings

    This is the first time I have heard the phrase 'man cave'. Not sure it's made it to the UK yet. We have just moved into a new house and share it equally. I suppose if my husband had a really messy or anti-social hobby I would ask him to perhaps to confine it to one room. But he cooks (all the time) and puts up with my mess in the kitchen, so I probably wouldn't.

    As for training: we do try and help each other improve our bad habits. Like, say, shouting when annoyed at him, or bottling up things that are bothering us. Not really training as we're not pets but I would definitely say we try and help each other be better people and by extension, have a better marriage.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08169407356570837365 D-Day

    yeah, it's bizarre how everyone talks about the man being trained by his new wife. like other commenters here, moving in together should be a learning experience for both partners – I'm pretty sure I've learned more about taking care of our home from my fiance than he has from me (if it were up to me the bedsheets would basically never be washed).

    and yeah I would say man caves are bad if they're the only space the guy is allowed to exert any authority over decor, etc., and there certainly will be no special room for him in the home we eventually own, unless there's a special room for me too. we've actually talked about having one big room where he can have video games and other nerdy stuff on his side and I'll have a sewing machine and all my random fleeting obsessions like old plastic cameras and embroidery hoops.

  • Kimmy

    agreed Cupcake.

    I had a long relationship before my current forever relationship… and my ex let me walk all over him and I always got my way. I never respected him, and never saw myself spending forever with him. When I got together with my current forever-man, we had the push and pull and respect for each other. I valued that he didn't let me (or really, want me to) boss him around.

    I didn't want to always be in charge just as much as I wouldn't put up with a man who was insistant on his way.

    Though when it came to nesting our forever home, I pretty much get the say, since I'm a) the only one who actually cares and b) the only one who will do it. HOWEVER, he is fine with this because he knows I respect him enough to choose things we BOTH like. ahhh partnership!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08534215770261448604 Leigh Ann

    I have to defend the idea of the man cave, because Owen is a hobbyist and an artist, and his helmets, weapons, miniatures, paints, tools and everything else he needs just pile up in and spill out of every free space in the house. We both wish we had a garage, so he would have a place to keep his hobby stuff and work on it and we could still have a clean, organized house.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02329381801379166829 Traveling bride

    So true. I admit he has habits that I aren't the best fun but I can't train him to be different and I wouldn't want to because when you change the bad you change the good too.

    I with others on this one the "man cave" situation comes about because some people don't know how to give get other enough space or alone time so they set up separate rooms/caves in order to get that space. I glad my partner an I don't NEED one we have no room in our little apartment. If it is because people haven't found a way to combine/live with each others personal taste – its very sad, a persons style is an expression of who they are and since we love them shouldn't we want to see that personality reflected in the house.

    My partner dreams of a cave though not so much for only men but he dreams of a room filled with computer games, big screen TVs and huge stereo equipment that I couldn't care less about, I guess if he was to ever get that I wouldn't go into that room much. And I would love a room to paint and read and make things.

  • Rebecca

    I have to agree with Kyley on this one. It's not the concept of 'Man Caves' as a place to hangout, chill, play games etc. that bothers me; it's that to me it implies that women are or should be perfectly happy with the kitchen, or living room as their domain…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388295799913646592 “T-Bone” Lee

    @ HeatherN I don't think meg is making a judgment about anyone that needs to learn from his/her partner. Lord knows my fiance and I have learned a LOT from each other. But I think in media there is this portrayal that women settle for a man because they just need to get married and then we try to make whatever man we end up with exactly how we want him.

    @Michele- I'm not saying you shouldn't love a man who isn't handy…just saying that not all men are inept the way "everybody loves raymond" and Direct TV commercials would have us think.

    As for the man cave….coming from someone that has worked on HGTV shows for the last 3+ years…the man cave has a connotation for SURE! There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a room for your hobbies or for a specific activity…and more power to you if you can afford it!! But the man cave portrayed in a lot of these design shows is where the man gets to be "a man". Where he can scratch his crotch, drink beer and watch football with his buddies and where all his "guy stuff" is supposed to go so the rest of the house can be designed in flowers and lace just like all women want. Bleh. Personally I like drinking beer and watching football with my guy….but he sure would love a room for all his guitars and amps…too bad we only have 2 bedrooms.

  • Jessica

    OH. MY. GOD! I LOVE this blog! Fiance & I have a drinking game every time they say man cave on those G.D. shows (that coincidentally we LOVE because we get to be judgy from the privacy of our couch)! And ps, we watch them together… in our living room.. together, not in separate "caves"

    Not only do the men get just one room but what we can't figure out is why they insist on being away from their wives… and most of these couples are either engaged or newly married – what is so wrong with your spouse that you immediately need to make plans of escaping them/exiling them? ARGH!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18182268757502634911 sera

    I actually think that the "train him" idea comes with the brides that marry their husbands without having lived with them, which for the record, I think is a huge mistake. It is completely stupid to walk into a marriage with open eyes thinking "I can change him." Would we really want to marry someone who wants to change us? Of course not.

    As far as the man cave goes: when we first moved into our house almost two years ago (with a roommate who we still live with now, post wedding) G asked me if I wanted to decorate the bedroom or the office. I chose bedroom. Although I wish we had enough room for us to both have our separate offices, we make do. And for a while we joked that it was his "masturbatorium" as in Augusten Burroughs book Running with Scissors.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06008386302876377978 Lyssachelle

    @HeatherN
    Too far? Nah. An extreme difference of opinion from yours? Yeah.

    I think the biggest point is both phrases are indicative of a sexist mindset that is just not cool. And the more that the mindset is pointed out, the more aware of it you are and the more you can fight it, if you choose to.

    This is how I see APW. A Practical Wedding is like that best friend who meets you at the bar after work and carefully listens to your woes. And then, after you're done, APW leans across the table and says "Eff the bitches."
    No, I can't, you protest and then APW spends the next hour giving you an impassioned opinion that not only empowers you but makes a very good case for effing the bitches, and possibly setting them on fire.
    Now you either leave that discussion screaming, "EFF THE BITCHES!!!" as you grab your pitchfork, or you may disagree and leave and do nothing. Or, most likely, you leave not screaming, but also not taking shit from anyone.
    And APW is cool with that too, but still thinks you shoulf eff the bitches.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00650933140736435170 Giggles

    @Sera,

    As a bride who did not live with her husband before getting married but still had her eyes opened enough to know that I was not going to be training my husband in any way, getting married without living with someone is not a huge mistake. Thousands do it all the time. Heck, people get married in arranged marriages where they haven't even dated before marriage! Would you then say it's a mistake to move in with someone without living with them first?

    But marriage is between two individuals, not between a woman and a lump of clay she can shape into anything she wants.

    Most people say the "husband training" comments as a joke or a bit tongue-in-cheek. But jokes are funny because they contain a piece of truth in them. Listening to these "jokes" for too long, you internalize the truths they are based on.

  • Nina

    Yeah I don't think having a game/TV/whatever-else-is-in-a-man-cave room are really the issue – the issue is that these rooms are often represented as a necessary refuge because it's the ONLY place that a man can have a say and express himself. Which for all of us at least, is total BS. If you have a big enough house to have a game room and a craft room and a whatever else room, that's awesome. But I think that's more about your personal interest and maintaining them, rather than what is implied by the typical HGTV man cave.
    We on the other hand live in an expensive city and are lucky to have a room for our bed :-)

  • brendalynn

    @Lyssachelle Do you have your own blog? I just realized that when I find myself scanning the comments, I tend to just look for yours & Meg's. Yay for your comments! ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @brendalynn
    I KNOW! She totally needs one. She sends hilarious emails too.

  • Nina

    @bex – totally! And I think the kind of training you talk about is not only fair, but good. It's equal opportunity training.
    Partners should learn from each other, none of us are perfect and contructive criticism here and there is necessary. Just the sexist attitute that men are swine and women must domesticate them against their will is what sucks. I could certainly learn from when my FH actually takes a freaken toothbrush to the kitchen sink to get the grime off. Or when changes all the electrical outlets in the house and they all work and I have no idea how he knows how to do that.

  • Anonymous

    Hummm…

    My future hubby is a wonderful man. Though he tends to be the "stereotypical" type of man that so many of you seem to role your eyes at.

    He can't cook (ummm…or prefers not to cook?) and instead will eat mountains of cereal and string cheese for dinner. He totally sucks at cleaning – as in he doesn't notice when things are gross and need a good scrub down. He is totally inept at "handywork" and sucks at keeping a balanced checkbook. And his idea of decorating are bobbleheads and sports figurines in the bookcases and phathead stickers on the wall of his sports heros. He's awkwardly quiet around people he doesn't know – but is the LIFE of the party with our friends.

    He is a dude.

    He wants a mancave.

    I know I won't change a damn thing about him…there are a few things I probably would want to change…but he is who his is. And I fell in love with him fully.

    And I can't fucking wait until he gets his damn mancave.

    (or masterbatorium – because that's hilarious.)

  • Marisa-Andrea

    Reminds me of the "your wife let you out?" comments. We get those.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Um. You can be a man and cook and care about decorating.

    But that's not really the point. The point is that it's wonderful for men to have ALL KINDS of skills – cooking or not cooking. The point is that they don't need to be trained, that we are equal partners in this. The point isn't really the man cave… it's that equal partners share a home, however they divide the rooms.

  • Marisa-Andrea

    Interestingly, no one ever says to me "your husband let you out?" Hmmm.

  • Vee

    I'm with @CaitStClair on the man cave thing. It's not about him being locked in a specific room, it's about him being able to put all his Mets and Broncos stuff in one place, and hang out with his dude friends and drink beer. I'm sure I would be allowed whenever I wanted! But, as I recently learned, I don't always want to hang out with him and his friends, especially when I have a good book to read or something good saved up on the DVR.

    I definitely think some people have the kinds of relationships where you have all the same interests and all the same friends. Our relationship isn't exactly like that. We have a lot of the same interests, but sometimes I tire of the video-gaming and would rather read a book. Sometimes he tires of the beer-drinking and just wants to hang out with the dogs. The "man-cave" is really just a second living room that he gets to decorate (not that he doesn't have input on the rest of the house, but I am going to veto Mr. Met-as-decor… I hope that doesn't make me anti-feminist.)

    The concept of training a man, though, I definitely hate. I don't need to train him. Sure, there are things I wish he did differently. It would be nice if he put his dishes in the dishwasher. But I'm sure if I asked nicely several times, he would "catch on." Sure, it would be nice to get flowers every once in a while, but you know what? He's just not that kind of guy. NO BIG DEAL! Flowers do not a marriage make. I don't want to "fix" him – I just want him to be him.

  • LawDoc2010

    Okay – I'm going to take the unpopular stance of acknowledging that I'm trying to "train"/"change" my SO.

    He could not be more loving, more supportive, or a more emotionally-invested partner–he's awesome, (to repeat a phrase used often in this thread)that's why I'm marrying him.

    BUT, if it were up to him, we would live in *squalor*. So, yes, I'm trying to "train" him to do laundry once a week or at least before it's overflowed the hamper…and the spare hamper; to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, not on the floor next to the couch; to hang up his clothes, not wad them up on a chair; etc, etc. And, he is probably trying to "train" me to be more relaxed about cleanliness around the house. We both make progress from time to time.

    Is it morally-wrong / anti-feminist / anti-equality-in-marriage / old-fashioned to work toward a shared standard? I've always thought this is what the "have you trained him yet" questions referred to.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Ok guys. It's been… unexpectedly feisty today. Man Caves? Who knew they were such a lightning rod of controversy? Huh.

    But we're done with this one for now. As ever, there will be more things to passionately debate… next week.

  • Nina

    I think what Liz said about how to frame the discussion is right on – and it is really telling that it's often assumed that only men need their own space while the rest of the house is women's domain. Like Michelle who said she's jealous of the "man-cave" – who wouldn't be? I sure as hell know I'll want an escape from the kids once in a while too!

  • Sarah

    OMG…. rofl. i jokingly say that i "trained" the fiance when we were first dating, but in reality terms, it's called becoming an adult and loving someone enough that you want to be the best person that you can be for yourself, and for them… in that respect, i would say that he "trained" me as well! it is NOT getting married and "training" your husband like you train your puppy not to go potty in the house!

    i just feel like, the more i hear about people's opinions on what you (as the wife) need to do when you're married, the more repulsive the whole institution seems! i want to marry my guy b/c i love him and want to be w/ him forever, but this stuff is just ridic.