Literature review – books I’ve read but otherwise don’t have expertise or authority to speak on.

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus – by John Gray 1992.

Sorry this didn’t come out at regular time, I’ve been sick the past few days.

Let’s get the disclaimers out first- I’m not a book expert, publisher or writer. I’m not a relationship expert, counsellor or even very experienced in the world in general yet.

John Gray, author of this weeks book, is an experienced couples counsellor and an expert on communication. He has an unaccreddited and honorary pHD’s in… something – Wikipedia didn’t say. He has written several books on this topic and wrote this guide with his wife on side.

Nonetheless, I have some things to say.

I read a classic relationship book yesterday – Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, by John Gray.
His writers statement says it’s meant for couples in the 1990s but I find that there is still a lot to be taken out of it. Not to be taken as gospel naturally, no lifestyle/advice book is ever that perfect aside from the Bible itself.
If you haven’t read it, the main premise is that by understanding the ways in which men and women are different, we can have healthier relationships. He looks at things like stress, problem solving, security and desires: breaking down what men and women each want differently and how we rub each other the wrong way.
His cover calls it “a practical guide for improving communication and getting what you want in your relationships”. Very blunt and to the point. That certainly took me aback. A guide to getting what you what? That to me rang alarm bells about manipulation. Why should you always get what you want, when so much of that clashes with what another person wants? Now upon reading it I don’t think that the information here is intended for evil – but it could be abused in that way.

If only one person in a relationship was privy in the information to this book, they now have an enormous power. They now know more about themselves and about the other person in the relationship, while the other may know neither of those things in any detail. Hence (in accordance with my background knowledge of nothing), I would suggest couples should study the book together so this power is balanced.
I said the book wasn’t without fault. I’m mostly talking about the somewhat self-centred nature of the advice – it’s intended so that you can get the best out if a relationship. I come from a Christian perspective and to me, a relationship isn’t all about getting what I want. It’s mostly about sacrifice for the other person. Both John’s parents were Christian and I would reckon that he gets at least some of his relationship ideals from this worldview. In addition, this is also what a lot of secular relationships agree to – on the whole we all like compromise, equality and fairness. But this book can be used for that!

You can read it in order to understand how to serve your partner a little better. John actually talks about this service and sacrifice system and aptly explains that if everyone is sacrificing to help others, everyone will get what they need. He points out though, that when not everyone is sacrificing, some people won’t get what they need. This can create tension and bitterness because we feel we are giving more than we are receiving. He’s right on the money there. I won’t give away his “secrets” here, but you can read the book yourself if you like.
Do I think this is still a relevant read in 2020? Absolutely, I think it stands the test of time. I encourage everyone to read it even if you aren’t in a hetero relationship. Even single people can use this advice to understand family and coworkers better. But I warn you to treat what you learn with respect. Do not use it against anyone.
Stay safe,

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