By Marsha Fottler.
The lasting gift I gave my husband, a small piece of residential real estate, didn’t happen on Father’s Day nor did it occur recently. But, he’s treasured the gift from the day it was his – a bathroom of his own.
Recently, I read in The Week magazine an abbreviated interview with the actor Michael Caine in which he described the secret to his 36-year happy marriage to the beautiful Shakira. “Two bathrooms,” he advised. “I mean, it’s a minor thing but I say it’s the first thing you need.”
My husband and I shared a bathroom from the day we married to the autumn that our youngest child went off to college. Two weeks after Ben left to live in a dorm, I startled the spouse by saying, “I’ve decided to claim the kids’ bathroom on the other side of the house; this one is yours.” His reaction was disbelief. “You’ll never get up in the morning and walk clear across the house to brush your teeth,” he scoffed. “Watch my dust,” I replied.
The big adjustment took all of 48 hours and since then we’ve enjoyed the abiding bliss known as a bath of one’s own. His is a minimalist design statement in white and cobalt blue with just a few adornments that aren’t strictly functional. The fixtures are brushed nickel. His bathroom adjoins the walk-in closet and bedroom. He can shave and watch television and he has easy access to his clothing. His bathroom is the convenient and he loves every inch of how he’s configured it specifically the suit himself alone. He still uses bar soap and chooses only white face cloths and towels.
My bathroom is peachy-coral (including the ceiling) and it’s a recklessly feminine cocoon of lotions, powders, scented candles, bath salts and fragrances that cling to the towels that are turquoise. There’s art on all the walls and instead of one large vanity mirror, I’ve opted for a whole collection of framed ones of varying sizes. Overhead is a crystal chandelier that I salvaged from my daughter’s home when she redid her living room.
No denying, my gift to my husband of separate bathrooms was self-serving. But here’s where it’s a gift that keeps on giving. I take responsibility for cleaning his bathroom or arranging for it be routinely scoured. He doesn’t want to do it (this man and a toilet bowl brush have never shaken hands) and I don’t want to climb up on the roof and clear out the dryer vent. Thus are marital accommodations forged over the years – the move to a king size bed, the choice of paint color for the family room, what brand of new stove to buy and should it be stainless, etc. But, honestly, the best practical accommodation in our marriage has been the division of the bathrooms. Michael Caine is a great actor and obviously a sensitive mate.