Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
Author: Dr. John Gray
Genre: Self-Help, Psychology
This masterpiece on men/women relationships has sold more than 7 million copies, and was the highest ranking non-fiction across the whole of 1990s. In essence, the book says that men and women are different and speak a different subtle language, almost as if they have come from different planets. And hence, they end up fighting, because “we mistakenly assume that if our partners love us, they will react… the way we react”. But true love will only blossom if we learn to accept and respect our differences.
Some gems in the book (quoted verbatim):
·A man’s sense of self is defined through his achievements; a woman’s through her feelings. Men are motivated when they feel needed, women when they feel cherished.
·Men would do one big thing and then think their contribution to the relationship is done. But women want many small daily acts of kindness and love.
·To feel better, men want to be left alone and solve their problems, but their partner wants to talk and ‘help’ (which can be very irritating for the man!). Even with all his love, a man needs to occasionally pull away before he comes closer. He needs intimacy but also autonomy. It puts too much pressure on him to make him the only source of love and support.
·On the other hand, women want to talk about their problems and just want the man to listen, but the man starts offering solutions. It is (very) difficult for a man to (just) listen to his woman when she is unhappy or frustrated, because he automatically starts feeling he has been a failure. To express their feelings, women also assume poetic license and use superlatives (“life is horrible”, “kids are selfish” and so on, even if it is just a temporary phase).
So men argue for the right to be free, while women argue for the right to be upset! And arguments, when left unresolved, move from the issue to the person and relationships crumble.
Gray himself had an interesting background: He was a celibate serving under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for 8 years. Then married a self-help author and they divorced. He married 2 years later to his current wife (to whom this book is dedicated, they have been together for 30 years).
There is the occasional criticism of the book: of stereotyping, of over-simplifying complex psychological issues, of the book being too long and repetitive (Gray has written 17 other books since!). I agree with all these, but still, would recommend it as compulsory reading for all who have felt they do not understand the other gender. Whether it’s a young boy-friend or a wife of many years you are trying to retain, grab this book!