Reviewing John Gray's Men Are From Mars, Women Are from VenusBooks
John Gray’s world renowned text Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus has made him the number one best selling relationship author of all time according to his website. The book is aimed at improving relationships for couples. The driving points of the book are the diversions placed between the fundamental man and woman. Though much of the text begins to recycle information from the defining chapters the core concepts and relations of the sexes has become a pop fiction icon for relationships literature. This piece was co-authored by writer Brian Burgess.
John Grey puts forth an assertion that men and women are from different planets. This becomes the key notion and metaphor for the entire text. Grey makes a relation between the classical roman god Mars and goddess Venus for women (14). Grey focuses on the resulting differences nearly exclusively through the chapters of the book. The fundamental differences are explained so the reader can understand and then adjust their approach to the opposite sex after reading.
One of the interesting dichotomies presented in the text is the notion of complaining. Grey says that men complain to get issues solved whereas women just want to be heard out and acknowledged. These blanket statements and similar notions really find home in this text and can be difficult to swallow if there is an ounce of disagreement in the reader to the absolutisms of the text.
I agree with the assertion that relationships today are challenging today with the increasing stresses of work and home. The sometimes goofiness of having to return to the metaphor of men and women falling in love because their accepted differences seems a bit simplistic but surely had selling power. There is also a lot of validity to the concepts of opposites attracting and forming intimacy.
The core of the book refers back to the introduction statement that “You cannot, nor should you ever try to, change your partner”. This is a frustrating notion that suggests to me that compromise does not enter the relationship. Instead each person should try and change the way they communicate and react to your partner. I suggest this passive notion may stifle undertows that may explode later on as the concept of avoiding arguments often does less to resolve the issue as it does to temporarily patch it.
One of the central themes of Gray’s book is his point system of scoring the giving and receiving of love. He suggests that women give larger amounts of emphasis and score in blocks of points for big acts while women attribute them singularly. This notion of point giving is interesting if not made overly formula. Surely people might hold particular memories of loving acts and feel a sense of indebtedness to their partners and I felt that Gray capture this and nearly makes a game out of it.
The series of generalizations are easy to dive into but limit the roles of gender to generalizations which I found frustrating. The simplifications seem to have been done to reach the widest audience possible and there are plenty of people seeking legitimate relationship help. The metaphors or men as rubber bands pulling away and springing back grew aggravating as all of chapter seven did. Still the core concepts of score keeping does bring some light to the internal thoughts and perspectives of men and women and some tips on avoiding making your partner resentful of you.
Only a little bit of chapter eleven resonated with me about communicating difficult feelings because I do think it is important to express emotions rather than repress things. Gray suggests consulting with friends or physicians first, which seems to create an emotional barrier between the two partners. I am glad that one of the closing notions of the text is to keep love alive because this book seems more inflammatory than helpful throughout most of the passages.