My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Mars and Venus in the Bedroom: A Guide to Lasting Romance and Passion (1995) by Dr. John Gray is a useful book to help couples, either new or old, spark the rhythms of romance back into their relationship.
Dr. Gray focuses mostly on sexual aspects in the relationship (as in chapters like “Sexual Confidence”, “The Joy of Quickies”, “Polarity Sex”, “Mechanical Sex versus Spontaneous Sex”, and “Sexual Anatomy and Oral Sex”) and the more basic fundamental aspects of a relationship (as in chapters like “Women are Like the Moon, Men are Like the Sun”, “Why Couples Are Having Less Sex”, “How to Rekindle the Passion”, and “Keeping the Romance Alive”). And most of the chapters do provide useful tips for keeping or igniting passion into the bedroom (or living room if that is you and your partner’s preference).
At times the advice is dated (after all, the book was published 20 years ago and lots can change in two decades), but at times Dr. Gray knows exactly what he is talking about and offers some lasting advice (after all, how much can men and women and sex really change in two short decades?).
But in the end, as Dr. Gray opines: “There is no better aphrodisiac than sex itself. The easier it is to have sex, the more you want it” (p 105). And, hopefully, you want lots of sex with that most special someone in your life, right?
The good news is that older women are the ones who enjoy sex more than older men. Dr. Gray comments on this paradox:
“As a general rule, men peak in their sexual interest when they are seventeen or eighteen years old. A woman reaches her prime when she is thirty-six to thirty-eight years old. It is similar to the pattern that men and women experience during sex. The man gets excited very quickly with little foreplay—except the opportunity to have sex—while a woman requires more time. Quite naturally, he feels that women don’t like sex as much as he does” (p 88).
One rule Dr. Gray suggests is for men to add a ‘0’ behind their usual 2-3 minute-marathon to have a clear understanding that many women need 20-30 minutes to become fully warmed to great sex and even the possibility of an orgasm (p 63). Certainly this does not mean for every man and woman, but Dr. Gray speaks about the general norm for most men and women.
Here is some particularly useful advice from Mars and Venus in the Bedroom:
“The sexual act for a woman is a process of discovering what feels good that day,” explains Dr. Gray. “She does not want her partner to follow any premeditated rigid plan. She would rather that sex be a spontaneous creation each time, appropriate to how both partners are feeling…
“She wants him to know that each time her mood may be different. She wants him to know how to discover with her what she wants. She wants him to be sensitive to her feedback that will assist him in leading her to higher states of fulfilment and pleasure.
“To do this, a man needs to know the basics of great sex and to be willing to experiment by rotating his various skills. Like an artist, he needs to be very familiar with the basic colors of sex and then experiment with how they combine to create a new work of art. Like a musician, he needs to know the basic notes and chord combinations to create a beautiful piece of music” (p 151-152).
In other words, Dr. Gray is advising men to be prepared by doing their homework on a woman’s physical composition (i.e., to know how and where to please a woman on her body), to have enough knowledge on sexual positions to keep the woman guessing (i.e., study! study!), and also to practice! practice! practice! (Not such bad advice if you ask me—men and women could all use a little more practice at love-making).
“These different expressions of her sexual nature are not planned or thought out, but instead are discovered in the moment.
“When a woman has the freedom to be spontaneous, these different expressions and others will naturally come up and be expressed. When a man carefully takes the time to stimulate a woman with no expectations of how she is supposed to respond, over time she feels safer and safer in sex to do and express whatever she feels. This uninhibited sexual expression frees her to experience new heights of sexual ecstasy” (p 153).
According to Dr. Gray, men need to be patient enough to control their passions and learn to read a woman to help her open up her sexual passions in a spontaneous way. The more the man takes control and is careful to give the woman an orgasm first, the more the man and woman are able to fully explore the gratifications and pleasure of sex together. But Dr. Gray has a bit of advice on the relationship side of being involved with the opposite sex:
“Many men don’t realize why monogamy is so important,” writes Dr. Gray (and he’s absolutely right about this and what follows), “They don’t instinctively understand that monogamy ensures that a woman continues to feel special and loved. If she is not feeling loved in this way, she cannot continue to open herself to him. Trust is essential for a woman to continue getting turned on to her partner” (p 157).
Trust is key for building not only a solid relationship but also amazing sex. The more the woman is able to trust the monogamy and man in the relationship the more she is freed to open up and express her passion and desires in the bedroom (or in the kitchen on the floor).
But the problem with most men, unlike many women, is control. And Dr. Gray speaks about two kinds of control: that of the body and that of the mind:
“When I am turned on to another woman,” confides Dr. Gray, “I look down at myself and think, ‘I’m glad everything down there is working.’ Then I point in the opposite direction and say, ‘Home, James.’ This is called ‘dick-discipline!’”
And more follows, “Just by containing my sexual feelings and repeatedly directing them to my wife, I increase my ability to be turned on to her. Also by controlling my feelings when I am away from her, I have more control in sex…
“When a man can both feel his passion and control it, a woman can begin to let go of control, release her inhibitions, and start to really feel her passions. As a man learns to control his passions, not only does he help his partner reach higher levels of fulfilment, but he can also experience greater levels of sexual pleasure and love…
“When a woman is able to surrender and fully receive a man, he can easily maintain control while feeling increasing passion. When she is able to relax, receive, and enjoy his loving touch, he can last longer. He can continue giving as long as she is fully receiving” (p 159-161).
The lesson from Dr. Gray is that if you give more, you will certainly get more. Try focusing less on your own passions and lusts and desires but focus on making your partner happier and more fulfilled (in both life and in the bedroom) and you just might get some benefits as well.
The truth is sex and relationship is not a one-way street in a busy construction-loaded city; it’s more of a hand-in-hand union walking beside a swan lake and when no one is around—since this is a privately owned lake park by you and your special partner—you throw off your clothes and make wild, mad love until dusk as the swans swim by with their wide, innocent eyes). Sex and relationships are a partnership, a product of two people (most of the time) working together, caring together, and loving together more and more each day.
But much like life, as well as in the bedroom (or in the shower), women want spontaneity, to be surprised, to be kept guessing, to continue to be allowed to feel the magic of life and love and romance. “A woman,” writes Dr. Gray, “feels most excited when she doesn’t know what he is going to do next [in the bedroom? in the car? in the backyard?]. Predictability is a turnoff…
“A man needs to remember that variety is very important to women” (p 145, 178).
And both sexes should remember some sage advice from Dr. Gray:
“Just as great communication opens a woman up to enjoy great sex, the possibility of great sex directly helps a man to be more loving in the relationship” (p 99). It’s a yin and yang kind of thing—you know, the sun and moon, the white and black, the one and the other.
Most women need to talk to connect while most, if not all, men need sex to connect—that’s just a fact of biology. Many women and men are simply wired differently and need to remember not only how to please themselves but how to please their partners even more. These are some of the advanced skills Dr. Gray mentions in his book.
And so we come to that time and place where an end is required (oh, how I hate endings, but these do lead to new doors and newer paths ahead), and so I will choose to end as Dr. Gray ends Mars and Venus in the Bedroom:
“By keeping the romance alive and practicing advanced bedroom skills,” explains Dr. Gray, “you can and will continue to enjoy great sex. May you always grow in love and passion and enjoy God’s special gift. You deserve it” (p 206).
Yes, yes you do.
Keep reading and smiling…
The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a member of the Hemingway Society, Club Med, and the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystic’s Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America: A Look Back (2020); and forthcoming: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being; A Time to Forget in East Berlin; and, The Endless Endeavor of Excellence.
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.
You can follow the author on Facebook @ cg.fewston – where he has 450,000+ followers
“The American novelist CG FEWSTON tells a satisfying tale, bolstered by psychology and far-ranging philosophy, calling upon Joseph Campbell, J. D. Salinger, the King James Bible, and Othello.”
“In this way, the author lends intellectual heft to a family story, exploring the ‘purity’ of art, the ‘corrupting’ influences of publishing, the solitary artist, and the messy interconnectedness of human relationships.”
GOLD Winner in the 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Awards for Contemporary Realistic Fiction