Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

This was the title of a book published in 1992 authored by John Gray. It was very popular in its day and had many spin-off versions. John and I both read it and found some of its advice extremely helpful in understanding the ‘other sex’. Especially helpful for me was the chapter on ‘the man cave’. John Gray explains that when men have a problem they retreat to their cave where they try to ‘solve the problem’. They have no interest in seeking help until they have done this. John Gray explains that woman ‘instinctively’ sense the emotional retreat of the man and take up residence at the cave entrance. They periodically yell into the cave ‘WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?’

In contrast when women have a problem they like to share it with a friend or with a group of friends.  If they share the problem with their male partner  they can easily put on there ‘problem solving hat’ instead of empathetically listening. What’s the answer here?  John Gray advises women to recognise the behaviours of the man who has retreated to the cave and then leave him alone. The woman needs to go out with friends, have a bath, or read a book. Eventually, he will come out of the cave with either a solution or a need to seek counsel to solve the problem and that person may not be you.

When a man is listening to his partner share a problem he should not weigh in with ‘advice’ but listen, smile and nod with encouragement. The woman usually knows the answer to her own problem.  She is mainly seeking understanding and a listening ear – but rarely advice.

Over the years I have made some observations about the opposite sex. While I am no John Gray I think they are practical, realistic and helpful. One of my first martial insights was to cease ‘threatening divorce’ when I got angry. Marriage should be a safe environment in which to work through your problems and the ‘threatening of divorce’ is like the hanging up of a phone or the slamming of the door on your way out – it has momentary satisfaction but it is deeply immature and a poor attempt to gain control over the other person, especially when you don’t mean it. The continual use of it is only breeds insecurity and hostility. Better to completely drop it from your vocabulary. I truly believe marriage or partnership is the backdrop and ever-present context in which to work your crap out. I had a huge issue with rejection when John and I married. Over the last 13 years John has created a safe and loving environment in which I have been able to address this problem. While residual elements of it probably exist in my psyche I really feel as if this issue is no longer a player in my emotional reactions. That is really something to celebrate.

Have you ever had a fight just before bed and then tried to sleep? I end up tossing and turning all night. I rehash the conversation over and over again thinking up brilliant one liners I wish I had said. I seem to awake in a similar emotional state. The bible says ‘do not let the sun go down while you are still angry’ and a recent study by sleep researchers at the University of Massachusetts suggests that if you go to sleep immediately after a negative interaction it’s as if your sleep protects the negative event. When you awake and are confronted with the negative situation again – your negative feelings and response are still there. Sleep neither lessens nor dulls your negative response, it has protected it as you slept. No matter how late it is I encourage you to talk it out.

I love sharing my life with you through this blog but I would really like it if you could extend yourself to share with me your best marriage/relational advice. You don’t have to be married to work through relational issues either – plenty to be had with friends, family and life partners – so no excuses. Please share – I want to live the best possible life I can and I know that many of you carry great secrets of success for me!

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

2 Comments to “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your blog and believe it is good to try and resolve issues before bed but I think there is point you may have to let it go and agree to address the issue at a better time. Continuing to try and resolve an issue when tired can become a bit of a minefield. When overtired emotions can wreak havoc. Sensibility and reason can diminish and arguments can be prolonged, even worsen, rather than resolved.

    If the hour is early enough and you are not overtired then it is best practice to work at resolution. When one or both parties are exhausted it may be better to leave it for another day.

    • Great point! The other night I ‘slept’ on my anger but when I woke up I realised I had just been tired and sleep was the best thing I could do. Thank you xo

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