The case for less space.

Men's Health (South Africa) - - RELATIONSHIPS - BY JOE KITA

MY WIFE, Maria, and I spend three to four months each year on a cruise ship as yoga teach­ers. And it’s a good thing we’re flex­i­ble, be­cause our cabin is 23 square me­tres, which is roughly the size of a onecar garage, or five prison cells. It has one desk, one couch, one tele­vi­sion, one bath­room, and one closet. All told, we’ve spent about four years of our mar­riage sar­dined in there. Oddly enough, these months on the ship when we can’t es­cape each other are the strong­est times for our re­la­tion­ship.

In our small cabin, Maria has her side of the bath­room, and I have a shelf. She has her por­tion of the closet, and I have a few roomy draw­ers. Com­pro­mise, no mat­ter how mi­nor, means be­ing con­sid­er­ate and re­spect­ful of your part­ner, and that daily re­minder is a big re­la­tion­ship-builder.

Ther­a­pists will tell you that happy mar­riages and com­mu­ni­ca­tion fit to­gether like peanut but­ter and jam. In a tiny liv­ing space, ig­nor­ing your part­ner be­comes im­pos­si­ble.

So when Maria asks a ques­tion with no right an­swer, I can no longer fake mis-hear­ing and re­treat to an­other part of the house. When there’s an ele­phant in the room, it feels like there’s ac­tu­ally an ele­phant in the room. It can’t be shooed off into a cor­ner. We’re forced to ad­dress prob­lems quickly.

Af­ter three to four months of liv­ing in each other’s per­sonal space, I find I’m able to an­tic­i­pate Maria’s needs in­tu­itively, and she mine.

It’s ex­treme, sure; but when we’re back on land and liv­ing our lives with a lit­tle more room, we don’t feel so far away.

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