This month, as we focus on the theme of love, we decided to review the well-known book on relationships: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by author John Gray.
Gray first published the book in 1992 and it spent months on the best seller list. Having sold millions of books worldwide, it looks at how men and women seem to be from different societies (Gray used different planets – men from Mars, women from Venus), which operate with different rules and communication styles. Gray discusses how, by learning how the other “species” communicate, you can learn to express your needs and desires, and truly listen to your partner. This in turn leads to closer relationships and greater intimacy with your partner.
The book is full of practical examples that you can start to apply in your own life and see the immediate response.
Do the messages still apply, 26 years later? Absolutely.
Do you have to be in a personal relationship now to read the book? No. It´s a great read anytime.
Core messages in Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
One of the key messages that Gray discusses is that men and women have to understand and respect our differences. By doing that, our relationships can improve. Throughout the book he shares how men and women communicate differently. Gray also explains how we differ in the way we think, feel, perceive, respond, love, need and appreciate.
One chapter that I loved was when Gray explained that in times of challenge, or when a problem arose, men tend to take time out, he called it “retreat to their cave”, to find a solution undisturbed. This is the polar opposite how women react to a problem – their natural tendency is to find someone to talk through the problem, so they can explore their feelings. This point easily links to how we mistakenly assume that if our partner loves us they will react and behave in certain ways – the same ways we react and behave when we love someone. So notice, next time a problem arises, what does your partner do and just notice what your natural tendency is. I used to spend time following John, trying to get him to talk and wondered why he got frustrated with me!
There is also a fantastic chapter which discusses the topic of how men and women ask for support. Here, Gray covers the use of direct and indirect language. He gives examples of how to make a request directly and shares the possible reaction if the same request is made using indirect language. One great example, that I personally can relate to, is requesting help to empty the bin. The indirect way might be to say “I can´t fit anything in the dustbin”. Gray suggests that a man might hear criticism rather than a request for help, which would probably lead to an argument (and the bin staying full!). The direct way is to ask “Would you empty the dustbin please”. Although this chapter focuses on interactions between men and women, I think this chapter is useful for all relationships, whether it is a personal relationship or not.
Other chapters discuss topics such as coping with stress, keeping score and communicating at difficult times. One chapter is dedicated to “how to avoid arguments”. The charm of this book is that within each topic Gray addresses both men and women’s angle on things, and points for improvement for each sex, with the intention to place no bias or blame.
On a personal note…
I first read this book many years ago, not long after John and I first met. At that time, I found it amusing, insightful and applied some of the teachings, and ignored some of the others. Over the years I have returned to the book every now and again, and noticed other aspects for the first time. I have encouraged others to read this book, particularly female friends, if they shared they were experiencing relationship difficulties. After training in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) I found the chapters on communication fascinating and I felt that Gray had a great way of explaining communication patterns in a clear and easy to understand way.
Gray uses lots of examples from couples he has worked with and within these examples I could spot elements of my relationship. The beauty is, he gave practical pointers on what I could do to change myself, so that the outcome changed, for the better. In the personal development world, you learn that the only person you can change is yourself – no-one can change their partner. Gray gives you some tools to help with this process. However, by changing my reaction, ultimately I can change Johns reaction to me (and me to him), and within that lies improved communication and closeness.
Although reading this book will not mean you will never argue again, it does give you insight, not just into your partners behaviour, but also (and perhaps more importantly) insights into your own behaviour. These insights can help within a personal, intimate, relationship for sure, but they also start to influence and improve all relationships.
We recommend this book to everyone. If you are in a relationship, pick the chapters that resonate with you and test it for yourself. If you are currently single and would like to be in a relationship, now is a great time to pick up the book and read, undisturbed! You can pick up a copy in a variety of languages or choose to listen to an audio version. You might also find this book in your local library! We have this book at the retreat, so you can also enjoy it at your leisure, next to the pool or have a duvet day!
Here at La Crisalida many guests share that they are going through troubles within their relationship, and this is one book we suggest that they read. They can also book a one-to-one coaching session or go to one of our life makeover workshops, to help gain insights and find resolution. John Brant, (husband), transformational coach and workshop creator has written an interesting article on “Moving on from relationship troubles and break ups” that’s well worth a read.
Did you enjoy our review of “Men are Mars, women are from Venus”? This is the second article in our new series of book reviews. Read last month´s review (Feel the Fear and do it anyway) here. You can find all the books in our well stocked library at the retreat.
Enjoy your Valentines day. Go practice your communication skills!