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Does Your Husband Have a Man Cave? May 2, 2008

Filed under: Marriage — gervmaine @ 1:49 pm
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Mine does. When we were looking at house and toured the one we ended up buying, the first thing my husband said when we walked down into the finished basement was, “This is my man cave”. I was waiting for him to club me over the head and drag me around by the hair, but alas, he isn’t really a caveman, he is a man who wants a cave. Confused? Read on…

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Why he needs a room of his own

(ifeWire) — When Vicki and Brian Meldrum bought their first home four years ago in Cleveland, they made a pact: She could decorate and furnish the rest of the 1,110-square-foot house however she wanted, but the 15-by-10-foot finished basement was his.

“I have it decorated with all the sports memorabilia that my wife would not allow anywhere in the house in a million years,” says Brian, 30, a sales director for a print media company.

But for Brian, it’s not just about holding onto the ratty futon and the “Fletch” movie poster from his bachelor days. It’s about having a “mantuary,” or “man cave” — a space just for him where he can watch sports uninterrupted or play Xbox games with his buddies.

“When his friends come over, they will go downstairs,” says Vicki, a 31-year-old account executive at a communications firm. “It’s like the basement in ‘That ’70s Show.'”

What does Brian have stashed away?

“Millions of movies,” he says, plus a 32-inch flat-screen TV, film posters, his guitar, an exercise bike, and a few family treasures, including the first-place trophy he won at a melanoma charity golf tournament he played in honor of his deceased father.

Having a room of one’s own can provide refuge in a stressful world, but can a mantuary actually help a marriage?

Steve Brody, a clinical psychologist from Cambria, California, who specializes in marriage counseling, thinks so.

“Separate time is important,” he says. “A good relationship has both intimacy and independence. Man caves may just be the 21st-century wrinkle to it.”

The Fine Art of Compromise

But retreating to the cave will only get a guy so far.

“I work with a lot with couples where it’s an issue that the guy is always on the computer and the gal is feeling like he’s not there for her,” Brody says. “The man cave in many instances can be more harmful than helpful because it develops distance, it establishes a barrier, and people take it personally.”

An all-or-nothing approach to spending time together (or apart) is never the answer, Brody says: Talk it out and split the difference.

“As ridiculous as the idea of watching six hours of golf is to my wife, that’s how ridiculous the idea of watching six hours of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ is to me,” Brian Meldrum says.

The Meldrums adopted a his-and-hers approach to TV viewing. “He has his space, and I have mine,” Vicki says. “It makes for a more harmonious household.”

Sal Guarisco, a 51-year-old sales manager from Atlanta, negotiated a mantuary with his wife, Wendy, 50, when her 88-year-old parents moved into a cottage in their backyard and began joining them for dinner each night.

“It’s a place to decompress so that by the weekend you’re not hiding out,” Sal says.

Sal, an amateur musician, populated his cave with four guitars, two microphone stands, an engineering table, an electronic keyboard, a computer to record tracks on, a TV and DVD player — and a “Star Trek” lamp.

“Sal has a lot he needs to escape from, so it’s good that he has a place to go,” says Wendy, a public relations consultant. “If my mother-in-law was living in the backyard, I’m sure I’d want a sanctuary, too.”

Man Cave Rules

While Sal doesn’t have a “no girls allowed” sign on the door, he makes his daughter Amelia, 11, ask permission if she wants to “play ‘American Idol'” and use the microphones.

“If he’s been gone all day and something is amiss in there, it’s like the Inquisition,” Wendy adds.

Out of respect for your partner’s sanctuary, Brody suggests knocking or announcing yourself by asking, “Hey, is this a good time?” before entering.

“You’ll often hear guys complain that when they’re watching a game on TV, their wife comes in at the fourth quarter and starts talking,” Brody says.

Jill Scully, 31, of Pescadero, California, doesn’t sneak up on fiancé Nicholas Woodman, 32, in his lair, a barn outfitted with $13,000 of race car simulation equipment.

Nicholas, an amateur club circuit racer and owner of a digital sports camera company, takes the jostling driver’s seat for hours on end — helmet on, lights off, surround sound blaring. Interrupting her fiancé might make him “crash,” so Jill, who helps run Nicholas’ company, waits until the end of the “race” before announcing herself.

“This deal conveniently ensures I have to be a spectator for a good half hour until his race comes to a close and I can interrupt,” she says.

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So, that’s the scoop. Is there a man cave in your house? If there isn’t, is it something your husband secretly wants? And why have I never heard of a woman cave?

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The Mommy Complex April 30, 2008

Filed under: Marriage — gervmaine @ 5:06 pm
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I found this article today online and it rang some bells Cutting up my husband’s dinner is a big one for me. I am already cutting food on the kids plates so I just do it on his too. If there are ever problems or questions with our finances, I deal withall of those. I schedule his doctor appointments (and reschedule them when he cancels). The list goes on…

How about you? Do you suffer from this complex?

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Do you mommy your husband?

By Sarah Jio

LifeWire) — Kristen Rounds, 26, admits that she’s a little gaga over her man. “I’m like his mommy,” the Monterey Park, California, resident says with a laugh about her fiancé, a first-year medical student.

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Case in point: She picks out his clothes before they go out, styles his hair, makes his lunches (complete with “I love you” notes inside) and takes it upon herself to apply the toothpaste before handing him his toothbrush each night.

And then there’s bathing. “When he’s in the shower, he calls me in to wash his back,” says Rounds, a publicist.

Over-the-top behavior? Rounds says no way. “He loves to be taken care of.”

It’s a scenario familiar to many relationship experts, who say that first comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes the husband in the baby carriage.

Nurturing gene on overdrive

Women find themselves mothering their husbands because of societal pressures to be the ultimate woman, says Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“We’ve been taught that the way to show love is to do for others,” she says. And, according to Schwartz, some women believe that the more they nurture, the better a woman they are.

“I was at a dinner party once,” she says, “and I watched a woman lean over and start cutting up her husband’s meat.”

A bad idea? “It can work for some people,” says Les Parrott, a clinical psychologist, an author on marriage and relationship topics, and a professor at Seattle Pacific University. He describes one couple he knows: “She packs his suitcase for him and takes care of him like a little kid. But it works for them.”

Even so, Parrott and other experts are quick to point out that while a certain amount of nurturing is harmless, it can escalate and lead to relationship trouble.

“First you’re tucking in his shirt,” Schwartz says, “then you’re wiping his mouth, and at some point, it’s going to become a problem.”

It was a problem for New York City resident Linda Franklin’s marriage.

“As a woman who mothered her husband for too many years, I can report it’s about the worst thing a woman can do,” says Franklin, 55, a writer and lifestyle coach for female baby boomers. “It makes your man lazy, unwilling to be proactive in his own health care and for the most part a boy who refuses to grow up. It took me a long time to understand you can be compassionate and loving without being smothering and controlling.”

Franklin says she resisted the urge to mother her husband so much, and the result has been a happier marriage.

Blame it on the hormone oxytocin, says Florida-based psychologist and social worker LeslieBeth Wish. “It makes women feel tender, close and cuddly to their newborn and other children, and maybe husbands, too.”

Endorphins also play a role, says Tina Tessina, a psychotherapist in Long Beach, California, and the author of “Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.” “Endorphins flow heavily in new mothers, and [they] are the same hormones we feel when we connect to a husband. It’s pretty easy to confuse the two.”

How to tone down the ‘mommy’

Ever found yourself nagging your husband to take his daily multivitamin — or, worse, bringing it to him with a glass of water? Don’t go there, Schwartz says. Instead, “put it on the table, tell him you love him and then shut up.”

The same goes for other coddling behaviors, like pestering him to eat his vegetables. Too much of this type of communication, she says, and your relationship is likely to signal an S.O.S.

Babying the man in your life can mean two things, Tessina says: A. You’ve been spending too much time being mommy and may need a break from the kids, or B. You need more adult contact, whether it be a weekend away with the girls or a few hours at the mall while the kids are with a sitter.

Tessina says that normal nurturing — cooking for him, massaging him, tending to him when he’s sick — can feel motherly if you’re too controlling about it. “Instead, tell him what you’d like to do to help him, and ask him if he wants that kind of help. This evens the field and makes you equals,” she says.

And, if you catch yourself talking to him as if he’s your child, switch modes, Tessina says. “Exaggerate to make a joke out of it: ‘Would snuggy-uggums wike a widdle kissy?’ followed by ‘God — I am so tired of talking baby talk, but I can’t seem to change gears!’ ”

Bottom line, Schwartz says: A normal amount of nurturing is fine, but to keep a relationship healthy, show your affection in a respectful way. After all, one thing is certain, she says: “He doesn’t want to be married to his mother.” E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

LifeWire provides original and syndicated lifestyle content to Web publishers. Sarah Jio’s work has appeared in “Gourmet,” “Health,” “O, The Oprah Magazine,” and many other publications.