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The History of the Couch: A Self-Explanatory Look at Why Married Men End Up on the Sofa After an Argument

Updated on January 31, 2011
US President Barack Obama moves his sleeping furniture into the White House. Photo copyright Pete Souza via Wikimedia Commons
US President Barack Obama moves his sleeping furniture into the White House. Photo copyright Pete Souza via Wikimedia Commons

Couches feature prominently in millions of households worldwide…in fact, few homes don’t have one. Despite having so many couches in our day-to-day lives, few have ever wondered about the history of the couch, and even those who have looked for it probably ended up with a lot of misinformation about how this piece of furniture truly came to be.

In the annals of prehistory, societies were overtly matriarchal, as opposed to most modern-day cultures which showcase men in business and politics while women continue doing all the thinking and decision-making. One ancient tribe from central Europe is now remembered in only the dustiest and densest volumes of historical record, yet it left an indelible mark on Western culture that still plays very much the same role as it did thousands of years ago…the couch.

In this tribe, people slept in communal lodges where their personally-allotted space depended upon their status within the tribe. In order to ensure that each individual got their due, their beds were designed to denote their status and, consequently, the amount of space they were allowed to take up while they slept. For instance, the lodge matron would have a large, cushy bed formed from mammoth hides and the much softer saber-toothed cat. Her male concubines were granted bedding according to whom she favored, and some of the most amiable slept on mats made from the furs of wild dogs. Those who displeased or bored her, on the other hand, had to make do with scraps of boar skin stitched together with bits of hide from rats and mice. While the matron may welcome any of her male concubines into her bed for companionship, warmth on cold nights, or physical exercise, he was always expected to go back to his own sleeping mat when she was done with him.

This dismal life carried on into the Dark Ages when, as this tribe morphed into their own part of what would become modern European culture, these flat mats were replaced by boards raised a couple of feet off the ground to protect the men from freezing to death on stone floors, and to help discourage the rats that had taken to chewing on their feet. However, this design was short-lived as many men repeatedly fell off their boards, resulting in head injuries. Because of their role in raising male children, these legitimately brain-injured men impressed an artificially brain-injured upbringing on their sons, who perpetuated the unfortunate effect into the current day. In an effort to curb the damage, many women added a solid rail on one side of their males’ boards to prevent them from falling off so easily. Here we see the blueprint of modern couches.

Today, women have grown much more attached to their men and have afforded them increasingly greater privileges. In Western culture it is now more accepted to have a single male concubine per woman, and they are generally referred to as “boyfriends” or, if he pleases her enough, a woman may confer the title of “husband” on her male concubine through a simple marriage ritual. What was once a hard, uncomfortable board has, through the largesse of such women, acquired greater size, luxuriant cushions, and springs that allow for maximum comfort. Women frequently join their men on the couch for social interaction and to view films, and many have decided to allow their men to sleep with them in their beds nearly every night.

These advances in male status in the household have had some positive effects, but have also caused many males to forget their historical role and become spoiled by the treatment they have come to expect from women. Many even go so far as to be surprised when a woman becomes displeased and sends him to sleep on the couch for a single night, though historically it was once his accepted place except on the rare occasions he had her favor. Given this history, though, it should no longer be a mystery as to why men are automatically the ones to head to the couch when a woman is displeased, while women expect to remain in their beds…their rightful symbol of status and leadership within a home.


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    • sarahowen profile image

      sarahowen 7 years ago from uk

      wonderful. love it, i really enjoyed reading that, the style od writing was witty. well done

    • My SciFi Life profile image

      My SciFi Life 7 years ago from London, UK

      lol. excellent article ... explains a lot in my personal life unfortunately!

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Very funny indeed....LOL You have captured the essence of the situation. No matter who is the man of the house, we all know who is letting us be the man. Ah, another night on the couch, alone with my xbox360.

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 7 years ago

      Some of the best naps I ever had were on mom's old couch.