Garage Band

There was a time in the not-so-distant past that the garage was the official man-cave, a domain of dirt, grease, and dangerous tools. Calendars from Rigid Tools adorned the walls, and broken memories from a man’s life lay scattered among the jars of nails and screws on the workbench. Projects begun and abandoned lay hidden beneath the bench, obscured by gasoline cans and the box in which came the weed-whacker. Bicycles are jammed into the corner and held in place by the lawn mower, and an impossible tangle of baseball bats rests against the door jam, just one angry breeze away from an oversized game of pickup sticks.

But in this modern era, women exist in the garage, claiming space for their SUVs and gardening supplies. They may have even cordoned off a section for the annual garage sale, accumulating the cast-off clothing from the family with delusions of a future cash haul.

With two adults commanding the attention of a single place, conflict is sure to follow. The mess in a garage can determine the fate of your marriage, especially if you live in a temperate zone. More specifically, if it snows where you live, parking inside of your garage should not be seen as a luxury. So neither spouse should dare consume more space than would be considered fair, but fair in a marriage is not fair by any other measure (say, for instance, a courtroom setting).

In a normal, modern home, there are things that go outside (lawnmowers, rakes, and various dangerous liquids) and things that go inside (furniture, food, clothing) and the garage becomes a no-man’s land, jammed with crap from both inside and outside. When one spouse upsets the balance, something has to give, and it’s usually one of the cars.

You can tell which families in the neighborhood are on the road to divorce by measuring the number of cars parked on the driveway. If one car is out there regularly, say the husband’s, you know he’s either a slob and packing his side of the garage with lawn tools he doesn’t really use, or he’s a wimp who lets his wife fill his side with old, “skinny” clothes intended for the next big sale. This marriage is fine, because they have worked out a system that can sustain the marriage, even if the husband’s soul is ground into mincemeat.

If both cars are out there, it means both spouses are slobs and their house is probably more of a disaster than the garage but, again, they are meant for each other and they have a working system that will likely sustain their marriage. No problem in that house.

But when there is one car in the driveway and it changes regularly — husband’s car one day, wife’s car the next — there is trouble inside the home, and they are fighting over parking privileges. That’s a marriage that is on the rocks, and one day soon, the switching will stop because there will only be one car driving home.