A classic and unique self-help book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
tackles the perennial problems faced by couples everywhere. Gray tells an allegorical story of the Venusians and the Martians who move to Earth, having enjoyed wonderful and fulfilling relationships with one another for many years. However, as soon as they arrive on this planet, amnesia sets in! They can no longer remember that they are from different planets and all sorts of communication and emotional problems set in. Written in an unpretentious and jargon- free style, Gray's tactic of using "Venusian" and "Martian" to refer to the two genders (and he does comment that these roles are not necessarily based on sexual biology) avoids the dead-end path followed by so many people, of using sweeping statements such as: "men always
" or "women just don't understand
". Instead, he says: "Remember, Venusians are from a different planet, therefore
" or, "Martians need
" This in itself is worthwhile tactic, removing blame-culture and shifting communication onto a new level where it is OK not to be on the same wavelength all the time and not to automatically
understand all your partner's needs. His new naming strategy even manages to be amusing, in a way that many books in this area can fail to be, although the writing tends towards over-simplicity at times.
He discusses every aspect of relationships--but most importantly he does this in practical ways. For example, he lists common statements that a person in a relationship say to their partner, what that person intends them to mean and what the person to whom it is directed actually hears, or thinks they mean. Gray goes on to suggest ways to say what you intended that are more appropriate for the Venusian or Martian audienc--he even compiles lists of translations of common male/female exchanges.
Each chapter takes situations from either the Venusian or Martian side, making the book easy to dip into, as well as enjoyable to read cover to cover. The case for each interplanetary race is put simply and in a very down-to-earth manner, and the book avoids trying to be too clever for its own good.
Some tips from the book: Venusians take note--Martians also have monthly cycles of emotions, and need to retreat into their "cave" every now and then, so Venusians needn't feel shut out when their favourite Martian retreats without a word. The Martians could help by telling the Venusians that while they are retreating right now, they will soon be back out and they will then discuss any concerns the Venusians have. Martians should be reassured that, although Venusians climb down into their well every now and then, it is not that the Martians have hurt them--they too are taking time out. Their favourite Venusian will be back soon, ready to re-embrace their closeness.
The personality of the author shines through, the tone of the book being helpful, friendly and non-judgmental, kind and well-meaning, although the self-help strategy of repeating and summarising points results in the book seeming somewhat directionless. It is nevertheless an essential title for the bookshelf of every self-respecting self-help addict, and is a good place to start for the curious. It does also have some real gems of wisdom and new strategies--all in all, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is a star guide to understanding the constellations of coupledom. --Alison Jardine
“Devoted readers praise Mr. Gray as the saviour of their marriages and his book as the brick that finally knocks some sense into their mates” Washington Times
“When I was 21 and freshly dumped by Harry, my first really grown-up boyfriend, where did I turn but John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus? It was reassuring to know the reason I’d been dumped wasn’t because I was rubbish in bed” New Woman
“Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus has shed light on countless relationship problems, offering an explanation for many social inequalities…a hot topic of debate in households and offices throughout the world” Eastern Daily Press
--This text refers to an alternate