Rosie Green: His man cave or my girly grotto?

Remember that book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus? Well, sometimes I think we are not even in the same solar system.

I know my woke daughter would call out my views on this as regressive. And maybe the behavioural differences between the sexes are nurture, not nature– but in my world they are reality. Certainly in my relationship. The divide between my boyfriend and myself shows itself up in our world views, behaviours and attitudes towards sports memorabilia.

Rosie Green
Image: David Venni

Following my marriage split, I am living alone for the first time since my 20s. (When I say ‘alone’, I mean living without a romantic partner – there are still the children/guinea pig/mother-in-the-annexe.) As a result, my house has become very female.

Post-marriage I have transgressed back to my old habits of singledom, like eating cereal for dinner or making the decor slowly more ‘girly’– think floral headboards, faded French furniture and a national-grid-draining amount of fairy lights. The book shelves are now full of Penguin Classics and devoid of sports autobiographies.

The BT Sport subscription was summarily cancelled and the fridge now has a shelf set aside for eye masks and nail varnish. The man drawer of nail clippers and paying-in books was cleaned out and filled with beautiful stationery, and the house now reverberates to the sound of self-improving podcasts rather than the roar of the Six Nations.

Meanwhile, over at my boyfriend’s house the exact opposite has happened. He has his stepdad visiting – together they recline on their leather seating like Joey and Chandler in Friends and the TV is suitably ginormous. There are jars of coins everywhere. Their fridge contains meat, alcohol, some token ginger shots and condensed milk.

All this got me thinking about how differently men and women live when they are single, but also how, when you come together as a couple you moderate each other’s views, influence one another’s behaviour and align on values. When my ex-husband and I met we were politically on opposite sides of the spectrum. By the end we were both floating around the middle. In other things we met halfway too: decorating style, eating and drinking habits, exercise.

In fact, one of the most shocking things about our split was seeing, once we were no longer together, how different we were at our core.

But even given this, and though I love my girly house and my floral headboard, I do see the value in meeting in the middle ground.

Yes, there are compromises but it’s healthy to have your views challenged. I like the fact my boyfriend thinks differently.

As I get older and wiser I see that just because other people’s views are different to mine it doesn’t mean they are not valid. I also think he can influence me to change for the better. He certainly helps calm my hyperactive tendencies.

In fact, when we spent our first night away I was wide awake at 6.30am and  suggesting wild swimming at 7am. He lifted his hungover head from the pillow and looked at me like I was deranged. Which, clearly, I was. In turn, I hope I can introduce some vegetables into his diet.

I read some research that shows if you are in a relationship you are happier. No surprise there, perhaps, but interestingly you are also healthier, with lower levels of inflammation.

Research also shows that men in a relationship, thanks to the encouragement of their other halves, are more likely to go to the doctor. As it happens, I’ve been tentatively making enquiries about a suspect blemish on the boyfriend’s thigh. He has agreed to get it checked. Seems like love is a joint appointment at the mole clinic.


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