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Book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships by John Gray (1993-08-06)


Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships by John Gray (1993-08-06)

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Review Text

  • By Michael Aherne on October 12, 2005

    Before writing this review, I spent some time looking over many of the other reviews on here. The spread is interesting, and I think it comes from a misunderstanding of the very limited scope of this book.First off, if you're looking for a book to explain the innate differences (if there are any?) between men and women, this is definitely not it. Further, if you're looking for a book that dives deep into communication theory and has profound statements regarding the nature of good communication, this is equally lacking. The title betrays the purpose. This book is a badly written collection of common sense ideas and tactics to use when communicating in a relationship.Why 4 stars? Because common sense is not as common as people think. I am amazed at the 1-star ratings by "intellectuals" who charge that this book stands on very shaky philosophic ground, and that it does not live up to the high caliber of true scientific studies into communication fundamentals and/or gender differences. Get a grip! That's not the purpose of the book!This book is equivalent to an "Idiot's Guide to Listening, Respect, and Communication, with Easy-to-Remember Examples." Intellectuals charging that the common person should read XYZ's scientific study about the fundamentals is missing the basic point -- I don't want to know the fundamentals of communication (at the moment), I just want to know why my last girlfriend got offended when I offered solutions when she was complaining about work. Sounds simple? Not for all of us.I have a degree in rocket engineering and I am very confident that I could tear a book about "Physics for the common person" to ribbons for making vast over-generalizations and ignoring (what I consider to be) key details in the trade. I could easily humble half the readers of this review if we were talking about rocket dynamics. But would I criticize a beginner's physics book if it generates interest in my favorite subject? Of course not! You can't mock a beginner's book for not addressing the advanced issues.Further, it is hard to argue with the couples who say their marriage has been saved by this book. All idealism and charges of misogynistic text aside - if it works, it works. Period.I find it kind of humorous that those most offended by the generalizations made in this book are the ones most quickly to generalize. You must remember: Not all stereotypes are false, or even bad. When I go to China and sit down at a restaurant, I'm going to ask for chopsticks, and not forks. Why? Because I stereotype all people in China as eating with chopsticks. Is this bad, or just efficient?Many men and women fall into the stereotypes as described in this book. Whether or not you agree with those stereotypes as being "right" or "acceptable" is really irrelevant to the point. Further, the stereotypes are just a method of conveying the information. Gray is just trying to document the two different most common reactions to stress, and labels them "male" and "female" according to stereotype. He might as well have labeled them "North" and "South" for all I care -- the point is not the male/female generalizations, the point is understanding BOTH ways of dealing with stress (talking about it or receding into thought) and how to correctly handle it when you or your partner starts doing either.Last, but certainly not least, let's get off the charges of women-hating. The book is almost literally a mirror within itself, as every paragraph generalizing women has its counterpart generalizing men. While you can charge that he mislabels both equally, those who look at this evenly stacked book and somehow derive a women-bashing lean are simply playing up their own insecurities, opinions, and political stances regarding the genders. The book is an almost word-for-word split between the two (if you don't believe me, go back and look!). If you can only see the women-bashing side of things, while nonchalantly accepting all the male generalizations, then you are reading through your own mental filter, and should take a moment to consider that.I recommend this book to those of you who may not have the common sense that the elitist intellectuals profess, nor the ludicrous sensitivity to one side of an equally balanced portrayal of (admittedly overgeneralized) gender roles.

  • By Hannah on January 1, 2017

    I've mixed feelings on this book. On one hand, it articulates a good framework for the gender generalities that I've observed and for the most part, the author takes care not to paint with a broad brush. In fact, his intro takes care to acknowledge individual differences within that gender spectrum. He also provides a lot of good strategies for peacemaking and reconciliation as well, like the Love Letters. I especially liked the ending chapter on the seasons of love-- it matches what I've seen in long-term relationships.On the other hand, I definitely felt that much of his advice was very heavily slanted in the man's favor, at significant risk of turning the woman into a doormat. For example, when a man withdraws, the author advises the woman to basically just accept it if the man doesn't want to come out and provide the needed or requested support. This ranges from simple requests like "could you take out the trash" to rather necessary errands: "could you take me to the shop to pick up my car so I can go to work" or "could you pick up our kid from school" (taking examples from the book). If someone resisted doing those last two things, especially on a regular basis, I would seriously question his/her priorities, as well as their suitability as a partner and parent.I would also regard an unwillingness to provide emotional support as a yellow flag, especially if the onus for emotional maintenance falls on one party-- in this book's case, it's usually the woman. Is the man upset? The woman has to give him space and be caring and accepting, no matter how he responds. Is the woman upset? She has to figure out why she's upset, tell the man she's upset, then sit back and... basically leave the rest up to him. If he becomes caring and accepting in turn, great. If he's still distant, then the onus falls back on her to do more work. In other words, many, if not most, of the author's proposed sacrifices seem to fall on the woman to bear, because men are the way they are (i.e., from Mars). I can't really think of a section in which he says, "men, if a woman responds this way, just accept it-- that's how women are."Overall, I'd keep and re-read the book for its insights, but it's very much picking out what works and glossing over the rest.

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