The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex
Life gets busy. Has Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus been sitting on your reading list? Learn the key insights now with this summary and review.
Introduction and Meaning
“A valuable, much-needed book. A contribution to the understanding of the communication styles of men and women.”— Harville Hendrix, author of Getting the Love You Want
In relationships, men and women often behave differently, leading to the two parties having different expectations and goals. This can cause conflict and strain relationships.
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is a #1 New York Times bestselling book on the common relationship problems between men and women. The book believes these difficulties result from psychological differences between the sexes. At the most basic level, we can distinguish between the sexes based on how they respond to stress.
The book helps men and women understand each other and reconcile their differences. John Gray creates a translation guide using the playful metaphor of men being from Mars and women being from Venus. Both Martians and Venusians can use this guide to better understand each other. Through this guide, they can develop intimacy and build stronger relationships.
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus has now sold more than 15 million copies and is the highest-ranked work of non-fiction from the 1990s.
“Gray offers a Berlitz of the heart, a translation of that foreign language your spouse is speaking. And hearing.”— USA Today
Disclaimer: This is an unofficial summary and analysis and is not affiliated with or endorsed by the author. The content here includes generalizations and is not a replacement for getting professional help.
About John Gray
John Gray, PhD, is an American relationship counselor, lecturer, and author. He has written over 20 books about relationships and appeared on shows including Oprah, The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and many more.
He provides practical insights to improve relationships at all stages of life through his books, blogs, and free online workshops at MarsVenus.com. He also promotes natural solutions to anxiety, stress, and depression to support increased energy, libido, hormonal balance, and better sleep.
He grew up with five brothers in Houston, Texas, where his father was an oil executive, and his mother worked at a spiritual bookshop. His parents were Christians and taught him Yoga. The Autobiography of A Yogi inspired him greatly later in life. Gray attended a Transcendental Meditation lecture in 1969 and went on to live a celibate life for nine years as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s personal assistant.
Gray now lives in Northern California, where he spent 34 years with his wife, Bonnie, until she passed away in 2018. Gray and Bonnie had three daughters and four grandchildren together.
StoryShot #1: Men and Women Prefer Different Types of Praise
Each sex works differently and enjoys a different type of praise.
Men generally prefer to work on their own. They perceive assistance as an attempt to undermine their capabilities. They exercise their ability to solve problems quickly and love to have these abilities recognized and appreciated. Men also hate to have their skills ignored or mocked. They rarely use feelings to guide their behavior, as they believe this produces unreliable results.
Women are different. Women prefer to co-operate and mostly avoid working on their own where possible. To women, others working independently undermine the team’s efforts to work interactively. Women believe abilities are generally unimportant, as they result in aggressive competitiveness. Instead, women exercise their feelings by interacting with other women.
Men desire appreciation of their abilities. Women desire appreciation for their assistance.
StoryShot #2: When Stressed, Men Go to Their Cave but Women Talk
As well as differing in the ways they work, men and women differ in how they react to stress.
When faced with a difficult problem, the typical reaction for men is to become non-communicative and withdraw temporarily to their “cave”. Most often, they go to their garage or spend time with their friends. They will probably not focus on solving the problem they’re facing during this time. The “time-out” allows them to distance themselves from the problem, relax, recharge and re-examine it later from a fresh angle.
Men take this approach because they hope to solve problems by themselves. They do not want interference from others. If men communicate, it is so that they can get the point across quickly. They generally avoid listening where possible.
The male tendency to retreat into their ‘cave’ has historically been hard for women to understand.
When women become unduly stressed, their natural reaction is to talk to someone close about it, even if talking doesn’t provide a solution to the problem at hand. This sets up a natural dynamic where the man retreats as the woman tries to get closer, which becomes a major source of conflict.
On the flip side, women seek communication as they want to work out how they can help others. Women also like to show their feelings when stressed and are happy to listen. They like to communicate for the sake of communicating.
StoryShot #3: Men Want to Feel Needed and Women Wish to Feel Accepted
At a group level, men instinctively look after themselves. This selfishness can be detrimental to those around them. In a relationship, men have to learn to care for their partner. Women have the instinct to look after others, even at their own expense. In a relationship, women have to learn how to accept care. If women learn this, then both members of the relationship can have their needs met.
Both sexes winning is better than a relationship based on instinctive behaviors. Issues can arise when one of the partners continues to act on instinct. They will not be successful in pleasing their partner. This partner could then revert to their instinctive behavior, leading to the relationship unraveling.
Men need to feel that their attention is required. Men should express their desire to fulfill their partner’s needs and for her to accept his care.
Women need to feel that their needs are accepted and considered. A woman must express her desire for his care and encourage her man that he is capable of fulfilling her needs.
Both must remember to appreciate, accept, and forgive the other. They cannot blame each other whenever they fail.
StoryShot #4: Men and Women Communicate Differently
Men talk in a very literal way. Their primary purpose is to provide information, so they generally like to sort out their thoughts before communicating. Non-communication can arise, as men want to spend time alone considering their thoughts. Men must reassure women that they are merely taking time to think.
Women tend to use language more dramatically and artistically. This allows women to express their feelings fully. Women sort their thoughts out while communicating them. While providing this stream of concerns, women must reassure their partners that they are capable of caring for them.
Both men and women must focus on avoiding the blame game. When partners are dealing with problems, blaming only one party is not useful.
StoryShot #5: Men and Women Deal With Problems Differently
When troubled, men do not want their partner to express concern for them. Instead, men want to hear the problem at hand is within their abilities. They wish to sort the issue out themselves. Sympathy will only feel like the woman is undermining the man’s abilities.
When women are troubled, they love their partner to express concern for them. Women don’t like to hear the issue is simple. Describing her problems as simple rejects her concerns. A man should only propose a solution when he has considered all her feelings.
StoryShot #6: Men Are Like Rubber Bands
Men run away from situations when they feel their self-sufficiency is threatened. Men can then become unapproachable. This temperamental behavior can be challenging for women.
Like rubber bands, men snap back into their natural state if given time. So, women should give men some time.
Men must also give women assurance that they will soon return to their usual happiness.
We rate this timeless book 4.4/5.
This article was first published in 2021. It was updated and revised in September 2022.
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