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Married Couples Who Live Apart: Separate But Awesome

Illustration for article titled Married Couples Who Live Apart: Separate But Awesome

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.

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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.

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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]

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DISCUSSION

This idea makes so much sense to me, as an introvert who loves private time. I love the man I'm with, and the men I've been with, but I think I will always need a place to call my own, whether that is a separate apartment or just a room that only I am allowed to hang out in.

I like this idea in a broader sense because I, personally, think the idea that marriage is two people becoming one is bullshit. Two people just become two people living their lives together with love and support and care for one another. Why not treat each person in a marriage as a separate individual who needs his or her own private space?