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Sunday, October 7, 2001
Article

Have separate loos, avoid marital blues
Mohinder Singh

WHEN Charles Watts of Rolling Stones was asked the secret of his happy marriage, he replied, "Separate bathrooms".

Indeed a husband can do better by using a separate room for keeping his clothes and dressing up. If nothing else, he can press the spare guest room into service — perforce to be shared with the guest when there’s one. In effect, he uses the master bedroom (still carrying the sexist nomenclature) strictly as "bedroom". And restricts his use of the attached bathroom to "emergencies".

That way he leaves his mate an almost autonomous zone for bathing, dressing, and various other intimate matters women are supposed to attend to. Such personal space is all the more welcome to her if she’s seeing too much of him otherwise, like when he works from home.

A well-appointed bathroom all to oneself is a real luxury. You don’t have to "adjust" to the convenience of anyone else. A place where you’re with yourself, undisturbed, unhurried. You can spread out all your stuff, and there’s none to pry into or interfere with the arrangement. And whether you clean it immediately after use or leave it in a mess is entirely your own business.

 


Bathrooms that way are a private world. Well, if you want to know the truth about other people, their bathroom possibly gives out better clues that the living room — of their habits and hopes, illnesses and hang-ups, even bits of their sex life stand revealed in that small room.

One common bone of contention between couples sharing a bathroom: the one who used it before you left it messier. Husbands generally labour under a genuine belief that their use of the bathroom is tidier, based on the premise that their ablutions are seemingly simpler. Even otherwise, many a man rates himself tidier than his mate in matters of hygiene. One fellow claims he washes the soap after taking his bath.

Wives, on the other hand, routinely complain it falls to their lot to wipe things clean — the tub, the washbasin, toilet seat, even the floor after their man has been through. And mostly it’s the man who is the first user of a shared bathroom—possibly not a bad arrangement otherwise, with men averaging less time in bathrooms than women.

And, of course, there’s the perennial complaint of husbands neglecting to lift the seat every time they urinate. In Sweden, some feminist groups have started advocating that men should adapt the practice of urinating sitting down. The scene at the breakfast table should spell far more harmonious where a working couple assembles after having used separate bathrooms—and separate dressing places—for getting ready. "The critical period in matrimony is breakfast," says A.P. Herbert, a noted writer. Similarly, with separate bathrooms and dressing places, one can visualise a less contentious scenario when a couple is getting ready for an evening party.

Admittedly, this arrangement of separate bathrooms calls for some sacrifice on the part of the hubby; forsaking the dwelling’s best bathroom for something less elegant. Yet the gains in terms of the spouse’s goodwill could far outweigh the foregone comfort and convenience.

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