How a Man Cave Saved My Marriage

Not really, but I like to say it because there’s a little bit of truth in it.

My husband and I fought about houses for years.

I’ve written about it before, how we had different visions of how our lives were going to be. And where you live, how you live, plays a big role in that.

We were finally able to meet in the middle with this house, our modern house on the water.

I think Francis bought the house because he fell in love with the garage. He saw it and thought, Mine.

And that’s pretty much how it’s worked. The garage is his space. The house is mine. And that works for the both of us.

But we almost lost it in the storm.

The garage took a direct hit. One of the trees ripped the roof completely off the octagon-like structure. It knocked out one wall and left another hanging at a precarious angle.

(More photos here and here.)

The first contractor told us the garage was a total tear down. He said he’d build us a shed with a flat roof. That it was the only option.

We said we’ll hire another contractor.

The other contractor came in with a team of men and pulled the wall back up and reinforced it somehow.

He put on a new pitched roof, two skylights and a better joist system so that if a tree ever falls on it again, it shouldn’t split in half. (#prayerhandsemoji)

He salvaged the kitchen cabinets from our gutted kitchen, threw out the ruined ones, and kept the cabinets that didn’t have water damage.

The salvaged kitchen cabinets went in the garage for storage. Now instead of holding cups and saucers, the cabinets hold toolkits, paint cans and gardening tools.

There was a stained purple carpet in the garage that reeked of mildew. Our contractor ripped that out and kept the original cement floor, but shellacked it with a shiny grey paint. It’s much easier to clean now. I just turn on the leaf blower and blow it out.

In true man cave fashion, my husband turned the garage into his clubhouse. He has two sofas, a TV, a stereo with all his ’80s music on it and a refrigerator. Sometimes he’ll throw a mini-party with his friends from school and I won’t even know they’re in there.

And that, my friends, is domestic bliss.

My favorite thing about the garage is the chandelier. It’s an orb pendant I bought for the main house. But when I got it home, it didn’t work. I was going to take it back but Francis said, No, I want it for the man cave.

In the garage, the latticework orb casts web-like shadows on the walls. It feels like you’re in a tree house with the shadows of branches and leaves all around you.

The garage took eight months to finish. Mostly because the contractor was working on the main house during that time and saved the garage for last.

But it was worth the wait.

Before the storm, I didn’t like hanging out in the garage. It was dark and dingy and smelled bad. But now, it feels like a clubhouse for the whole family. It has barn doors on the front and we open them on sunny days. The boys ride their bikes in and out. They play zombie games and chase each other around. Francis turns on reggae music.

And I feel so lucky to have it.