This is the third post in the 1/2 Marathon being orchestrated by the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association. I have a bunch of questions left from the A Males Perspective teleconference I spoke at last week. As such, I’ll be using this marathon to answer some of the questions I received. Please note, these are my perspective. I cannot vouch for all males and when I’m giving my perspective on women, I certainly cannot vouch for all women. Also, all references to gender traits are based on the average population, there are exceptions of course. Please do not be offended by these if you are not “neurotypical” for your gender. So, on to the question:
Is having a man cave or alone time important to a man? And if so why?
I have two answers, and they are direct conflict with each other. I honestly don’t know which one I believe, so I’m going to give both and let the readers decide which fits their version of reality better:
No, having a man cave or alone time is not important to a man. Now, before I am outcast by my gender, let me explain. I don’t think it’s specifically a man thing. I think it’s an introvert thing. Introverts need quiet, alone, uninterrupted time to process. To think, to explore themselves and to plan. I write in my office in my house, which I guess you could call my “man cave”. It’s where I work from, it’s where I write, it’s where I do research and if I have the house to myself, it’s where I go, usually with the door shut (even if no one is home and no one is expected). And I don’t shut the door because I’m afraid of being caught doing anything inappropriate, it’s just a symbolic way to “shut out” the rest of the world for a while. To stop the input so I can process what I have so far. I do not zone out in front of a TV, in fact, I hate mindless shows that don’t cause you to think. I can’t stand watching sports, but then, I don’t fit the stereotype in that way. So, my thought it that introverts need a “cave” where they can go and process, and their spouses need to respect that they need that. I am very blessed to have one that does.
Yes, there is something inside a man that just wants to be alone sometimes. If you watch Mark Gungor’s video on the difference between male and female brains, he does an excellent job of explaining the difference between male’s compartmentalized brain and females connected brain. He doesn’t go into too much of the reason though. So, here’s a quick explanation:
Men’s brains are compartmentalized into “boxes”. You have a “box” for work, and a “box” for home, and a “box” for church, and a “box” for computer games, and a “box” for sports etc, etc, etc. Everything has a box. And whenever you are thinking about something, it’s like taking that “box” out, going through it and when your done, you put it back. You don’t open 2 boxes, you don’t mix boxes and boxes never touch. We have more trouble switching gears between topics. When we have a work problem, we don’t want to associate it with a home problem or a church problem. Those are different boxes.
Women are the opposite. They are extremely connected. Work is connected to home is connected to the church is connected to hobbies is connected, etc, etc. When they think about a problem at work, it automatically makes them think about a problem at home and a problem at church and any other problem that might be related in the smallest way.
So, you ask a man how his day at work was, the answer is “fine”. Why? His work box is put away already and he’s at home now. Different box.
Ask a women how her day was and you might be listening to a monologue about her entire perspective on life (some hyperbole there). Because everything is connected.
Why do men compartmentalize?
While developing as a fetus, boy’s brains are given a testosterone bath at one point and it burns away part of their corpus callosum. What is that? That is the bridge that connects the two halves of our brains together. That’s right, men are partially brain-dead. But that’s OK because we sort of make up for it by having 4% more brain matter in general. That’s the trade, we get more brain matter, women get more connectivity. That’s why, generally, women are better at multitasking and men are better at the single-minded purposeful attack of a problem. We need both in this world.
So, what does this have to do with a “man cave”? Men have this special feature of their brains where we can just about turn it off and still be conscious and alive. Mark Gungor calls it the “nothing box”. This is where the stereotype of the male staring in front of the TV, looking brain dead comes into play because it’s kind of true. Women don’t have this feature. It’s much harder due to the connected nature of their brain. Everything is connected, so there is never a place without a connection to some thought, emotion or memory.
So, those are my two answers. They both aren’t solid reasoning yet, I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle or a mix.
What do you think?
Men: Do you have a “man cave”? Is it important to you? Do you know why?
Women: Are you jealous of your man’s ability to “disconnect” from the world? Or do you do it too?
23 thoughts on “Is Having A Man Cave Important To A Man?”
I agree with the “it’s just a need to shut out the rest of the world” philosophy. Yes, I have an office in my house, but I don’t usually shut the door (except when I really need to get something important done and my wife won’t stop talking about work – haha I’m joking but only half joking). Seriously, for really “shutting out the world” my answer is to go out running, something I do daily anyway. So in that regard the whole neighborhood is my “man cave” – and as you can see it’s not a cave at all.
I think the cave is just symbolic. Some people do it with a room, some with running, some with putting ear-buds in and listening to music, some with watching sports, and some with reading books. It all amounts to the same thing.
I respect my husband’s need to get away all by himself. He understands that I need that time too. It’s a win-win situation:)
Very informative post. I’m not a man so I can’t weigh in to have a cave or not. My Beloved doesn’t have a cave, if he did, he’d want me in it with him because I’m his best friend. He’s also an introvert who works at home, in our tiny house where I also homeschool our children. So, it’s not like he has somewhere to go to get away from all of the noise. I guess it goes back to perspective. If he needs some quiet and alone time, he either goes for a run or sits in his home office. Otherwise he hangs out with his wife and family because we make life inviting for him. We want him with us and he feels appreciated, loved and respected because of our attitudes.
Sounds like his home office/running are his cave. It’s where he goes to get some quiet/alone time.
Wow – you got me thinking!
When we moved into our latest home, I felt strongly that Robert (my husband) have an office – a dedicated spot for him to go to read, work, etc. He seemed fine with the idea. (and it made sense because of his many phone calls for ministry)
At that time he was working outside the home leading a corporate marketing communications firm with a number of employees. Now we’ve changed direction and work together from home.
He spends most of the day in his office, but it doesn’t seem to have the impact I thought it might… He’s much more motivated by coming to visit me in the sunroom where I work, or by going out of the house to work.
I think it’s an introverted/extroverted thing. I’m an introvert. I pushed for something – for him – that I would value… not taking into account our different perspectives.
Now there’s a topic to discuss over dinner! 🙂
I love to hear that I got people thinking! We so often push our expectations for what we want/our perspective onto our spouses.
In a small house that is mostly decorated by me and overrun with small children and their toys, I do believe it is important for hubby to have a man cave. He has a room blocked off in the basement where he can enjoy his hobbies or watch a movie in peace. The children are not allowed in it EVER and I respectfully stay out of it as much as possible, though he loves an occasional visit where I come in to casually chat or give him a kiss or a refreshment.
I’m a little jealous <grin> my man-cave is my home office and the kids change-room. So they are constantly in an out grabbing sweaters, socks, etc..
I think you nailed it with the introvert comment. Yes, men are more given to this “need” than women, and for the reasons you covered to well, but an extrovert guy (like me) does not feel this need nearly as much as an introvert.
Yeah, I think that might be the answer I’m looking for, the mix. That is is an introvert tendency, but males are more likely to exercise this particular tendency.
We don’t have any caves…but our laptops side by side on the couch while we watch our favorite shows is our escape after the kids go to bed most of the time. We’re pretty boring but after everything we’ve put each other through, BORING is a good thing!
Not boring …. stable.
It’s interesting. In the beginning, I thought that my husband and I had to spend every spare moment together. I thought if he wanted time alone, that he didn’t care about building our relationship as much as I did. Silly me! He needs his alone time, his “guy time,” where he does nerdy things like play video games or research about sports, and listen to horrible music, in order to be rested and more available for me. Since I’ve started allowing him his alone time without questioning or pouting, he actually spends a lot more quality time with me – and he’s happy doing it! Every afternoon when he comes home from work (or on the days that we both work, when WE come home from work), he spends a few hours with me first. Not watching tv, or being distracted by other things. We have amazing conversations, we have tickle fights, we laugh together, we’re silly and we’re serious and we really connect. I’ll give him a massage or a rough scratch, he’ll give me a soft tickle scratch (it’s interesting how we like to be touched differently!), or we’ll snuggle closely for a bit. Then, after a few hours, he goes to the living room (no man cave right now) to do his own thing – which is what he’s doing right now! – and for a couple of hours I leave him alone, popping in for a kiss or passing through to the kitchen for a glass of water every once in awhile. The thing is that I get my alone time on the days during the week that I don’t work, while he’s with people that entire time – and he really is more of an introvert. He has told me it makes him feel loved that I allow him time to rest by himself.
Yeah, it’s amazing how much I feel loved by being left alone for a while to do my own thing. The Bible says that 2 will become one, well, that implies that both people are whole people to start with, and whole people have their own interests and need their own time occasionally. Good for you for learning this!
I think it depends on the man… but if he does need it, then he should make sure he provides a place like that for his wife to enjoy as well. If they are comfortable with having these places, then they should limit how much time they spend apart… Otherwise, it could become harmful to their marriage if they are not careful. My husband has never wanted to have a “man cave”, so it’s never been an issue for us.
Yes, it’s that male need of dealing with stress. When you read about many men in the Old Testament, such as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Saul, Elijah and others you see their masculine need to deal with stress in a different way than women do. Today, Neuro- Scientific Research confirms that this male need can be traced to the differences in the way men’s and women’s brains are wired: For most men, taking time for themselves is a coping mechanism for lowering stress – and a very effective one. whereas women’s brains are not linked that way. When a woman is stressed, there is eight times more blood flow to the emotional part of the brain, which is connected to the verbal expression parts of the brain. So women lower their stress by talking about what’s going on, whereas men, as a whole prefer to spend some down time in a quiet place and process things within themselves or through such cave activities as journaling.
Thank you for that information, that is very cool!
I looked up the word introvert in Merriam-Webster. As a noun it says, “A quiet person who does not find it easy to talk to other people”. That is my husband, only crank it up, way up. My husband is nodding. He has two large heated/air conditioned shops to escape to. After putting in time with my side of the family, he retreats for hours, after the experience. I’m the only one allowed in his man cave. He actually prefers me to be there. I often leave him be. He needs the down time. I rarely put him in the predicament, but if he’s in a room full of strangers, he will usually find an exit.
It’s very important for men to have a place to go for peace. When we lived in town, my hubby had his heated four car plus garage. It was that important to him. He built the garage a month before our wedding. It’s actually bigger than our house! That was the biggest joke in town. He spent many hours in there. Good article, Jay.
Glad you liked it. I’m the same way. Social functions make me want to hide by myself for a few hours.