“Safety” is a word that we feel more than we speak, when it comes to our significant relationships. We also frequently feel unsafe, not necessarily physically but perhaps emotionally. We all want to feel safe. However, we may go about achieving that safety in some very creative ways.
Like Earl, in the cartoon above, I too have heard lots of men talk about their “man caves.” This is typically a room where they have their big screen TV, their Lazy Boy recliner, and perhaps even a small refrigerator, stocked with their beverage of choice. This is a room that is reserved for him. It may include the prize of their latest hunt hanging on the wall. It is their space, a place where he can go to be safe and uninterrupted.
I have never given this idea of a “man cave” much thought until I visited Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. This is the scene of fascinating cliff dwellings that came into existence around 1200 AD. Some of these dwellings or caves were rather large multi-roomed homes which housed the community of people. As you look at some of these caves, you are amazed at how difficult they must have been to get to. In some locations they appear completely inaccessible. Archeologists who have studied these dwellings have pointed out that this seeming inaccessibility was very intentional. The caves were designed in this manner for protection. They wanted isolation. They wanted to be kept safe.
I can’t help but wonder whether this is in part what “man caves” (I have also heard of a few “woman caves”) are all about. They are not completely unlike the cliff dwellings in that the inhabitants want to be safe. They want a place where they can be themselves without fear of criticism or intrusion. This touches one of our deepest needs – the need to be fully known and fully loved. We fear that if we are completely known by someone, then he or she will reject and not love us. So – we go to our cave where we will not be judged.
While I am not suggesting that you men get rid of your “man cave,” what I am encouraging all of us to consider is how we might create more safety in our significant relationships this week? You spouse, and children, want to know that they can be fully known by you, warts and all, and that you will still unconditionally love and accept them. You desire this and they do to. Let’s see if we can’t reduce their need for an inaccessible cave, as we create homes of emotional safety.