There are lots of terms for it out there: Manland. Mantuary. Man Space. But whatever you call your man cave — that garage, spare bedroom, shed, workspace or other area that is exclusively yours and that you can go to in order to just be yourself — is actually more important than you or your partner might realize.
Many men have high-stress jobs and can spend long hours at work to earn money and help support their wives and children. Work- and life-related stress can build up and if there is no healthy outlet for it — such as a man cave to escape to for a while to unwind — then the stress can build up and lead to physical problems like high blood pressure or tension headaches.
It can also lead to emotional problems like irritability, a short temper or even chronic anger, which can put a real strain on the marriage.
If a man has a place he can go to in order to process these emotions away from others, it can help with the emotional health of family life. The man cave provides a place to temporarily get away from life’s pressures and to decompress so that there is emotional energy left over for family life.
Many men are not aware of this on a conscious level, but there is a relationship between one’s feelings and one’s environment — and in many households, women tend to have more of say in how this environment looks than do their husbands or partners. This is why, notes home design journalist Mitchell Parker, in his Houzz blog, it is so important for men to have a space that have decorated and laid out for themselves in a way that expresses their own individual tastes and personalities. Having this kind of environment to escape to helps them to regulate their emotions and to explore and interpret who they are in privacy and without the rules that being around others naturally brings.
Getting “Me” Time
Obviously, both men and women need some “me” time, even in a strong and healthy marriage. This can be a sticking point with women, however, who can sometimes feel offended if their husbands need space or time to themselves without them.
But for men, it can be even more important. John Gray, author of the famous Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus series, notes that, “There is a part of the brain that helps us to interpret time and space. That part of the brain is much larger in men than it is in women. This means that men have a much bigger awareness of the need for space and time to themselves, “me” time. Also, it is worth noting that “me” time can be quite different for men and women: for women, this can often include talking or texting other women, whereas for men, the desire for actual solitude seems more paramount. When this need is fulfilled, it is easier for men to emerge from the cave and be ready and able take up the responsibilities of being husbands, fathers and breadwinners.
Most of the reasons for man caves mentioned above are emotional or psychological ones. But there is a physical aspect to this as well: man caves can also be a great place for men to be able to work out and be active, whether it’s a session on your treadmill to the tune of your favorite CD or a weight-lifting sessions to build up those pecs.
Why is this is important? Because according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 3 out of 4 men are overweight or obese — and this is a major risk factor for heart disease, which remains the number one killer of American men. So, if used properly, a man cave can not only help fulfil a man’s emotional needs but his physical health.
So while the man cave can be the subject of much joking and jesting in family life, there is a more serious side to its presence — and when men and women take this side into account, it is more likely that both will make it more of a priority.
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