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on February 19, 2004
Finally after 12 years and fourteen worldwide very successful million copies, MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS comes out across the USA in the more affordable paperback. Rather than the typical "I liked it, but" format, my experience with the book was that I wound it liking it more and more as it went on, but the introductory chapters almost stopped me flat.
In school we were warned not to write in "Glittering Generalities," yet Gray does his best to make a virtue of that. Who but a stand-up comedian would dare say "Canadians love Good Government, Americans love Liberty"? Or: "Californians crave B vitamins, Midwesterners crave protein"? Gray's whole thesis sounds just as simplistic at first. (In general, and with exceptions), Men are from Mars: Competitive, individualistic, not into "caring and sharing," wanting to be admired for their ability to hang tough and deliver the goods yet unwilling to communicate the fact they need admiration. And Women are from Venus: Craving respect from their men, looking for emotional bells and whistles and not so much material status symbols as their men might suppose, prone to cycles of emotional fatigue and dependent on their mates to cherish them. In the beginning it all sounded so like a 1950s Tupperware Party I almost gave up.
But I didn't, and eventually the book works, in no small part because Gray writes patiently and simply but not simplistically, supported by a huge pool of real-life examples from his own therapy sessions (and apparently lots of "plugs" from earlier editions of his books at its successors). It's hard to argue with people who tell you their marriage was saved by this book.
Gray deals with language a lot in this book, because "Martians" and "Venusians" speak different languages, and each is only remotely connected to English. (He even uses phrasebook-translation techniques at times!) If a man comes home mulling over something and seems withdrawn, his wife may ask him, "What's wrong"? He might say, "It's okay." This is Martian for, roughly paraphrasing, "I need to withdraw into myself (his "cave," Gray says), and mull over a situation. It may be a small technical matter or something more significant. I first have to isolate the matter, then chew on it, determine its scope, and try to solve it on my own. Trust me to have enough sense to try to solve it rationally, and trust me to have enough sense to seek advice from the right source if it's something I can't handle on my own. Please DO NOT keep offering help. That's a waste of your time and mine; and it's a double insult to imply that I can't solve most of my own problems and that you somehow would be better at solving my own problems that I am." So the woman cannot interpret "It's OK" into Venusian ("Please help me") or even literal English ("Everything's fine; I'm going to relate to you normally").
On the other hand, suppose Mars and Venus are in the car, getting ready to leave the house for a long-planned camping trip. Mars turns the ignition key; Venus suddenly sighs and says, "I feel all the life is being squeezed out of me. You NEVER do anything with me anymore." Mars should not, SHOULD NOT, respond to the challenge of "never" by saying "If I 'never' do anything with you, what the Hell do you call this trip?" Which would lead to hurt feelings, bickering, perhaps an all-out fight. And Mars probably has no clue his spouse is uttering Venusian dialect meaning something along the lines of "I'm at an emotional low. All the planning and packing has drained me. I need love and sympathy. Please show how much you care for me so that I can start re-investing my trust in you." His best response might be . . . no response at all. Or maybe something like "mmmm." (Gray is very big on non-verbal verbal communication.) Martians have to listen beneath the words, beneath the contract, and learn to hear the tone ringing through the context.
Sound difficult? It is. That's why it takes a medium-sized book to broach the subject; and my paraphrases, however glib, have been worked as much as possible to be accurate. Gray's theories are convincing in structure, attitude and -- as I've said above -- outcome. Not for everyone and not all the time, but maybe for eighty percent of American couples who aren't "newlywed or nearly dead." The mass of people who haven't given up -- who care about keeping their relationships intact -- especially those who come out of an argument truly puzzled as to why mere misunderstandings escalate into wars of words, or why their problem-solving seems to ground-out at the level of "S/he's always got to WIN an argument." This book is not just for stereotype Alan Aldas or Stepford Wives; to borrow a phrase it has worked for a lot of people who worked it and will continue to do so. Just don't confuse John Gray with Moses, lest the "Commandment-like" tone of his opening chapters put you off this very good and useful book. ;)
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on February 9, 2004
Well I have checked out the mentioned sites in an earlier review and it appears to be true that Mr. Gray has no credentials whatsoever. More over the book tends to go on and on and at points you get so bored you just can't read more than 2-4 pages at a time. HOWEVER, there are some interesting things in there that make you think... "yeah, guys do act like that somtimes" or "yeah, I, as a woman, feel that way at times". I believe this book gives you a glimps of male-female relationships and can help you get an idea of how you can handle such a relationship when it is struggling. I wouldn't go as far as calling this book The Bible of Relationships, but I do believe reading it is beneficial, and would not be a waste of time or money. I think it would be a good idea for a couple to read this book together. You might disagree with a few parts, you might find other parts downright silly, but for the most part, you will find this book quite helpful.
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Some time ago my wife and I were had a big fight. It left each one of us feeling as the offended party, and waiting for the other to apologize: I thought she kept complaining about everything I did, she felt I did not care about her. Really angry, I bought the book, and after reading a few pages I was able to understand her point of view. As soon as I tried to explain how she felt (not why), we got out of the cycle.
The book has very helpful insights. The author mentions that differences get stronger when people are in a close relationship, and almost disappear when people have been single for a while. I agree: I'd recommend the book to newlyweds after they start disagreeing about trivial stuff, but not during their honeymoon.
Why, then, four stars only? Because the first few chapters are much more useful than the last ones; I don't agree completely with the book; the Mars-Venus analogy gets tiresome: I'd rather read: "Men do this, Women do that" instead of "Martians do this, Venusians do that"; and finally, the author incesantly promotes his other books and products throughout the book.
In spite of those issues that made it a little less enjoyable, the book has really helped me improve my marriage, and I highly recommend it.
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on December 29, 2003
I had to write when I saw the number of angry frustrated reviewers. So many people expecting a book on such a general broad topic not to generalize.
I'm a woman, and let me just say woman to woman, if you are looking for a book to solve all your problems or totally help you understand the male mind, or totally give you all the flaws of men and all the wonderful things of women, (to either demonize or glorify either gender) then you will hate this book because your expectations are insane.
If you want a book that can help you learn to control or manipulate the opposite sex, or make you feel you are always right and validate you- again stay away!!
Second off, if you are against the very possibility that men and women can have actual gender differences that we are born with (not learned) you will also hate this book. I doubt a feminist would like this book- hence all the "misogynist" name calling flung at Mr.Gray. Don't even bother to pick it up if you think we are all the same we just learn roles. This book is for those that have already caught on to the fact that we are different in a "general" way.
Also- If you are fearful of men or women- or have been deeply hurt to start with- you might HATE this book.
Third, if you have someone in your life who is frustrating and manipulative or is doing really bad things, don't expect this book to be the one to point all that out about your opposite sex mate or to help you solve it.
What this book does give is very practical information on gender differences that is not super elaborate. After being married for a few years it was clear to me that there were some basic things I didn't "get" about men, and ways we were miscommunicating. I got this book and I learned so much helpful things that are very simple and basic. Years after reading this book I still go back to it. It emphasizes the strengths and weaknesses of different genders. It shared with me things that I never knew that when I checked out for myself proved to be very accurate. Yes it is simplistic, this is-again not some deep therapy- "I'll explain every detail to you" book, but for a simple basic eye opening book-- I loved it. I hope his other books prove just as helpful/insightful as this one. I will give it to my daughter before she ever gets started dating. It helped me so much in my relationship to speak my husbands language and for him to speak mine.
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on March 25, 2004
I really like this book. At a time where everyone wants equality for the sexes, it's vital to be aware of our naturally different temperaments.
In today's society, where we try to give everyone equal rights, equally chance, equal opportunities, we tend to forget that we are different. Books like this one by Dr Gray, remind us that no, you can't treat everyone the same. There is no total equality. Men will be men, and women will be woman.
And especially when it comes to intimate relationships between man and wife; how much more crucial it is--to be cognizant of one another's psychological differences and respect each other's natural needs, desires and wants.
Highly recommended.
Zev Saftlas, Author of Motivation That Works: How to Get Motivated and Stay Motivated
PS here is a cheat sheet for reviewing the ideas in the book at a glace.
Differences men/women
Men Need:
1. Acceptance
2. Appreciation
3. Admiration
4. Approval
5. Trust
6. Encouragement
Common mistakes men make:
1. Minimize the importance of feelings
2. Listens and gets upset - thinks she's blaming him - just listen
3. Doesn't reassure her
1. Caring
2. Understanding
3. Respect
4. Devotion
5. Validation
6. Reassurance
Common mistakes women make:
1. Improve him constantly
2. Doesn't acknowledge what he does, complains
3. Tells him like a baby (treats him)
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on June 22, 2010
I never thought I would read this book. Eventually I noticed that I seem to repeat the same pattern in every relationship. Being in a fairly new relationship now, I decided to give it a try to see if there was anything I could do change me or my expectations.

John Gray is not a particularly strong writer, nor is he particularly imaginative. He oversimplifies things much of the time and he really stereotypes the sexes. However, he does excel in repeating the same point over and over in lots of slightly different ways -- some of them fall flat, some of them are unintentionally hilarious, and some of them even hit home.

In the end, this book has helped my relationship both with advice, and in the way that my partner and I can laugh at some of the absurd examples in the book. Thanks John!

Update: This book reminds me of the expression "even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes". It hits on some important points, but doesn't really seem to explain why they are important. It also misses on a lot of points. In the years since I read this book, I've come across a much more in-depth and hollistic approach to relationships:
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on May 25, 2004
This will not be a professional critique, simply my opinion. I am almost done with the book and I love it and have learned SO much. As a woman, I was surprised to learn some things about men that seem so plain when spelled out in the way they were. Now I feel like "I get it" in a general way. As I read, I thought "OH! so THAT'S why he did that...". It has improved my confidence and "validated" my behaviour in my own relationship. Yes, I have been doing the right thing, as unsure as I was at the time. As for the non-supporters of this book, if you are not willing to give in a relationship then this book, and possibly a healthy relationship just isn't for you! We need to cooperate and accept each other and if you are dead set on things being on your terms all the time, you will certainly not benefit from this book. This book should be required reading for all, in my opinion. It's not the answer, but boy does it help unlock some mysteries and help us to realize the differences. Stereotypical as they may be at times, there is a reason for it. We came from a time when what we now refer to as sterotypes was the norm and we are still the same people just trying to grow and successfully cross those lines. We can't fight our own biology and chemicals, so embrace it and do your best to understand the basic nature of it. We ARE different, and much more than I had realized before opening this book. Give the love that you feel you deserve. Compromise and understanding are two words that can help sum this book up. Unfortunately I do not think very many single men will be reading this book on their own and I am certainly not about to suggest it to my boyfriend (because of many reasons explained in the book!) but maybe I can put my newfound knowledge of men to work and convey some of what I have learned to him in a way that will help him to understand me as I have learned to understand him better. If you are a single man who has taken it upon himself to read this book, then GOOD JOB from this Venusian! Thanks for reading my opinion!
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on May 19, 2004
I knew Men & Women are different But only physically but I came to know that men are from mars & women are from venus only after reading this book.
Men feel he is doing right thing with his born Mr.Fix It Attitude But most of the times women only want him to listen.
Men go to his Cave when he is trying to find out solution to his problem But women dont understand this.They do what they do on Venus.They try to talk & men think she is annoying him.He pushes her out of his Cave & she thinks it was very Rude of him(It is Rude On Venus).
This was Just an Example.Book is full of Such Things.It gives complete Ideaof How Martian & Venusians Think Differently.They are made for Each Other But they should know what other want or Expect from them.
Some people laughed at me (Even Girls) that I am reading this kind of Book.My answer is Whether its men Or Women,This book is 'Must' for Everyone if they want their relationship work better,to communicate well because Men are from Mars women are from Venus.
This Book is like a Translator for Martian & Venusians.
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on April 6, 2004
I have to admit that after hearing so much about this book for so many years, I had rather high expectations when I started reading it. While I would not say that I was completely blown away, it turned out to be a very worthwhile read.
The main objective of the book is to help men and women communicate better in relationships. The book is built on the premise that women and men speak in essence "different languages." While the Mars/Venus metaphor gets redundant rather quickly, the message it conveys is valid and thought-provoking. Men and women do tend to express themselves differently, which often causes breakdowns in communication between them. This book teaches us to be more sensitive to these differences, understand each other better, and be able to express our needs in a manner that the other person can understand. Above all, the book teaches us to respect each other, really listen to the other person, and be a better partner to them. In addition to raising our awareness about the different styles of communication, the book also gives many practical solutions to common problems, down to the exact words that one should say to achieve the desired result. While this may seem simplistic, it gives very useful illustration of these principles in action.
I do have some reservations about the book. First, the author takes a very stereotypical approach to both genders and their relationship. For example, most women in his examples are meek housewives who wait for their tired husbands to come home from work at the end of the day, and whose greatest joy in life is going shopping with their husband's money. While sometimes generalization may be necessary to make a point, such an old-fashioned idea of marriage made it difficult to apply the learnings wholeheartedly to my own situation. The second problem is that the major learning takes place in the first four chapters; the rest seem redundant and contain more filler material, reinforcing the points made in earlier chapters. Such repetition may be helpful to drive the points home, but it also makes for less-than-inspiring reading.
Despite some of the problems with the book, I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. It contains a lot of very insightful information that can help anyone make immediate and lasting positive changes in their relationship with the opposite sex. The book is all the more valuable if both people in a couple read this book in order to gain a better understanding of each other and build a stronger foundation for their relationship together.
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on July 13, 2003
While "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" is a useful guide to maintaining a healthy relationship with one's mate, I can't say I agree with the title.
I don't mean to sound like a raging misogynist, but the planet Mars is typically associated with invasions, ruthless attacks, and unspeakable horrors. Considering most guys I know are laid-back schlubs who want to spend all day on the couch, who does this sound more like?
For example, I recently decided to play "Cap'n Sensitive" and help out around the house by making the bed. Now, aside from the pillows that my wife and I actually sleep on (the purpose of a pillow, unless I'm mistaken), we have seven "cute, cozy, decorative" pillows that rest on top of the bedspread.
Apparently, there is a very specific order to follow when placing the pillows. It's partially based on rank (i.e. size) and color, but logical analysis would be unable to determine the proper structure upon first glance.
Needless to say, my head was removed when my wife learned of my ignorant pillow-placement. She spent five minutes "explaining" that the one with the frills goes flower-side-out, because "nobody wants to see vertical stripes on the bed." Why she felt the need to impart this information at the top of her lungs is beyond me.
My point is this: Mars is often depicted as a hostile aggressor to quiet, unsuspecting planets. I'm definitely the quiet, unsuspecting planet around here.
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