My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mars and Venus In Love (1996) by Dr. John Gray is a collection of stories from men and women who either read Dr. Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus or attended his conferences in order to improve their relationships.
Most of the stories involve married couples or partners who have dated for several years but who were unable to marry. Mars and Venus In Love is an excellent companion to other Dr. Gray books but is recommended for those couples in long term relationships who want to relate to other couples who also had difficult times but were able to work through the hardships and develop lasting relationships.
So what follows are just some of the first-hand accounts from real couples who wrote to Dr. Gray to explain their situations and show how Martians and Venusians can continue to be in a loving relationship despite differences.
Chuck wrote in to say that he had a difficult time communicating with the women he loved. “I was attempting to solve her every problem except the one problem that she really wanted solved. She was really needing me to ‘just listen.’ She had been saying that for years, but I never really understood what she meant. I thought ‘just listen’ meant I should let her finish her point before I give my solution. Now I ‘just listen’; I refrain from giving solutions, and suddenly she feels ‘heard’” (p 16).
Dr. Gray explained why listening is so important for men in order to give their partner the caring the women deserve. “Learning to listen patiently—and not just passively—is a new skill for men. Yet repeatedly men report that keeping quiet and resisting the strong tendency to interrupt a woman with solutions has dramatically improved their relationships. Their partners are much happier and appreciative. Lucky is the man who discovers that satisfying a woman’s need to communicate and be heard is the most important requirement in making relationships loving and harmonious, When a man is a good listener, a woman can repeatedly find the place in her heart that is capable of loving him and embracing him just the way he is” (p 53).
Ellen added to this issue about men needing to listen. “If we women could just trust, and teach men not to try to fix but just to listen, then our hearts would automatically open up and we would feel much close to the men” (p 73).
Suzanne described her relationship with Rich and how they created a loving marriage: “We tell each other ‘I love you’ every day. We don’t leave the house or arrive home without kissing each other hello or good-bye. One thing Rich has always done since I met him is to call me at least once a day, just to see how I’m doing, and he always tells me when I can expect him home” (p 77).
Marge discussed about her difficulties in her relationship and how she learned to overcome them. “When he cleaned things up, I smiled and said, ‘It looks really great.’ Appreciating his actions was like some secret magical love potion; immediately he was relieved and at peace. I would have never imagined how much easier it could be. With this one change in my behavior, he changed. Then I started to feel love again” (p 17).
Judy wrote in and told about Ken and how they began to honor each other differences. “We communicate, and we know how to honor each other as different sexes. We know how those differences work. I no longer assume it should be easy for Ken to understand me. Sometimes I don’t understand myself, so how should I expect a Martian to? When he listens and tries to understand me, I really appreciate that he tries.
“Before Ken, I would just expect a man to listen and understand. I thought that if he loved me, then he would automatically want to connect with me through communication. I didn’t know that men connect through doing. When Ken feels like he is doing something for me, then he starts feeling connected. Passively listening makes a man feel like he is not doing anything to help” (p 19).
Dr. John Gray commented on men and their caves and how women still love to share conversations with their partners regardless of having a stressful day. “The insight—that a man can love his wife but sometimes not want to spend time with her—is quite surprising for many women and generally very foreign to their nature. When a woman is in love with her man, she looks forward to spending time together and sharing. Even if she is feeling stressed, she still looks forward to sharing the details of her day with the man she loves…on Venus, not wanting to talk is the clearest and most definite sign that there is a big problem in the relationship” (p 31).
Krista added to Dr. Gray’s comments about men and their caves. Krista explained, “Understanding men and their caves changed all my expectations. When he seems distant and aloof I don’t panic. It is temporary. I just say ‘cancel’ to all my automatic responses like, It’s my fault, I did something wrong, he doesn’t love me, I failed him in some way, he doesn’t care for me as much as he used to” (p 40).
Pam, who wrote in about her situation with Warren, offered this great advice about marriage: “It takes more than love to make our marriage work; it takes commitment, education, skills, insight, and tools. We supplied the love and commitment, and John Gray supplied the education, communication skills, insights, and tools” (p 44).
Candice explained about what she wanted in a man and in a relationship when she wrote in to Dr. Gray. “I wanted a man who could open up to me and share his heart and soul. I wanted to be a team. We would always come together to share our feelings, problems, and needs. Someone who depended on me and I on him. It seemed in every relationship after a few months the man would back off in some way. When I tried to get him to talk, there was always ‘nothing’ to talk about or he would feel smothered…
“I was so surprised to find that these men were not afraid of intimacy, nor did they need years of therapy—they were from Mars…Through understanding men and their caves, I learned how I had been pushing them away. I am grateful to have a new model of healthy intimacy, which is achieved through a balance of alone time and together time, a loving blend of being independent and dependent-interdependence” (p 48-49).
Dr. Gray concluded about men and women and why so many relationships end in heartache and marriages end in divorce and how loving partners can educate themselves in order to create lasting unions that stand the test of time. “Understanding that men are from Mars and women are from Venus has been a key ingredient for immediately improving any relationship. If you were to go to another planet, certainly you would first study its inhabitants’ language, culture, and traditions. Without this vital information you would repeatedly and unknowingly offend others and sabotage your relationships” (p 109).
If you know very little about the opposite sex and/or you don’t really know the best way to communicate with your favorite Martian or Venusians, I recommend you pick up and read either Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus or Mars and Venus on a Date or Mars and Venus In Love — all are a strong recommend.
Keep reading and smiling…
CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, and a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy). He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979 and now lives in Hong Kong.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father‘s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), and forthcoming: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being; Little Hometown, America: A Look Back; and, The Endless Endeavor of Excellence.
You can read more about the author on Facebook @ cg.fewston – where he has 320,000+ followers