Married Couples Who Live Apart: Separate But AwesomeS

Married couple Sandra and Todd Foster live in separate houses on the same property. Their profile in the Times verges on obnoxion (Todd's "man-cave??") — but their arrangement actually sounds pretty awesome.

Back in 2008, Helena Bonham-Carter said of her two-home marriage to Tim Burton, "to me it makes complete sense: if you've got some money, and you can afford it, why not have your own space?" But the Fosters actually don't have much money — Todd is currently out of work, and the home they share is a trailer. Each, however, also has a personal space. For Todd, that would be a "man-cave" — a shed with a TV, cooking supplies, and what the Times's Joyce Wadler implies are some butt-ugly baby pheasants. And for Sandra, it's a cottage that looks like a grownup dollhouse, complete with "lavender blush white petunias in a window box and lace curtains." Inside, Sandra's cottage looks like a wedding cake — and Todd is apparently the kind of guy who collects tractors. Gender stereotypes aside, these do seem like a pair who could use separate spheres.

The Fosters are hardly an everycouple (for instance, they had a Renaissance-themed wedding for which Todd made 19 cloaks). But maybe their arrangement deserves to be more popular. Less famous folks than Burton and Bonham-Carter have made it work — one friend of mine knows a couple who live in separate countries for reasons of work and personal preference, visit each other frequently, and are by all accounts happy. Obviously, for many a shared living space is a financial or childrearing necessity. And for others, the benefits of togetherness outweigh the annoyances of compromise. But to me, a living situation where each person can retreat to a private space whenever necessary, to get a little privacy or recharge the flame of love with a tiny bit of scarcity, sounds pretty cool. And it would be especially cool if I was married to a guy who collected tractors.

In The Catskills, Comfort In A Gingerbread House [NYT]