Happy Relationships Blog

Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus by John Gray Book Review

Posted on: January 29, 2009

Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus                       
By John Gray, PhD.

Introduction:

Prejudice. One of the greatest gifts that has been discovered because of our wonderful system of democracy is the problem caused by having prejudicial beliefs. Prejudice breeds ignorance and contempt, results in anger, produces an overwhelming urge for power, blinds individuals from seeing the path to happiness, and in reality is the cause for the troubles within our relationships. Unfortunately, this concept has not yet breached the walls of the ivory tower of the psychology industry.

The very theme of the granddaddy of modern relationship books, Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus by John Gray, Ph.D., is the prejudice that men and women are different. In essence, what Dr. Gray is claiming is the key to the successful relationship is that men and women are different, if you want to be happy then you must realize this and simply get over it. Sadly, he couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Ah yes, say the critics of this prejudicial perspective.  The formative Dr. Gray is merely propagating a perspective that men and women should simply accept these differences, that tolerance will lead to loving and caring for each other through the understanding of these differences.  The only problem with this perspective is that it promotes prejudices between men and women.  Unfortunately Dr. Gray isn’t a fan of history, or he would have known this. We have a perfect example that completely debunks his platform, the famous “separate but equal” decision in 1896 that kept African Americans and White Americans “separate but equal” until it was overturned in 1954 with the Brown v The Board of Education decision. 

The only difference is instead of different drinking fountains and restaurants we have different households, with our current culture of divorce. In fact, this book has probably done more than any other to help propagate our culture of divorce. 

Yes the idealism of tolerance and acceptance makes sense intellectually but unfortunately is impossible to implement. Promoting the difference between people only promotes the underlying fear of those differences.

Overview:

Ironically, he begins the book by claiming, “I do not directly address the question of why men and women are different,” which would add profound insight as to how to overcome those differences. Throughout the book it becomes extremely clear what those differences are. In his world, men only think and women only feel, which may be true of relationships in the nineteenth century but does nothing to help relationships in the twenty-first century.

In fact, to really help troubled relationships requires an understanding of the reverse that men can also feel and that women can also think. He does, though, contradict this logic, as he does with much of his “circular” logic, by stating that sometimes men do learn to feel “in order to become more loving and nurturing,” and that women do learn to think, “in order to earn a living in a work force.” His logic goes something like this; “Men mistakenly expect women to think…women mistakenly expect men to feel.” But can’t men feel and women think?

In fact, if this book is read with a critical eye the reader would actually feel incredulous over his logic. For women his comment that “Their egos are dependent not on looking ‘competent,’” says it all. He is asking women not to think as part of the relationship. So his advice for women is to forget their ability to think. After all, that is man’s work.

And he does the same for men with feelings. “When having a conversation with him at home, it seems as if only 5 percent of his mind is available for the relationship while the other 95 percent is still at work,” the place where men are supposed to think. In other words, Dr. Gray is trying to convince the reader men have only 5 percent of their brains available for feelings. He goes even further by stating, in essence, if men are not thinking then “he is drawn to solving little problems, like reading the news, watching T.V., driving his car, doing physical exercise, watching a football game, playing basketball, and so forth,” all behaviors that replace his feelings within the relationship. He even goes so far as to say that when a woman wants to engage in a discussion of feelings with a man, asking him “What’s the matter, honey?…he may feel insulted or repulsed.”

His advice for the reader then follows the logic that “Men need to remember that when women seem upset and talk about problems is not the time to offer solutions,” while “women need to remember that unsolicited advice or criticism…make him feel unloved and controlled.” In other words, the key to the happy relationship is for men to do their thinking but not associate with the women’s feelings and women can feel but helping a man think makes him somehow weak.

He uses this same logic when he explains that a man needs to periodically sink into his cave when he is upset while a woman retreats to her corner. What is true about his logic is when a couple argues a man does revert into the mode of thinking while a woman reverts back into the mode of feeling. Explaining this does not help couples overcome arguing. And again, he defends this point when he claims women want respect, respect for their feelings, while men want trust, trust that they can think. But don’t men want respect, and women want trust as well. Not according to Dr. Gray. This circular logic is repeated throughout the entire book.

The rest of the book is spent giving behavior advice, just like all of the others. Dr. Gray even goes as far as explaining a point system, both positive and negative, that men and women should use to keep score of their different behaviors. Does he explain the causes of behavior? No, like he states initially he doesn’t even discuss the “why”. He doesn’t even attempt to! So without the why, how can he provide an inkling of a solution? Again, he doesn’t.

Well, he did sell over 20 million copies. Why did his book sell so well? People in troubled relationships identify with his description of the problem. How many copies do you think he would have sold if he wrote a book entitled, Men Are From Earth Women Are From Earth?

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