This week, Life Training Online is reviewing Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex, by John Gray Ph.D., the twenty-sixth of fifty-two books in the 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks series.
Discovering Our Different Emotional Needs
Because men and women have different emotional needs, Gray explains that most men and women do not instinctively know how to support each other. Men end up in relationships giving what men want, and women give what women want. This leads to dissatisfaction and eventual resentment.
The Twelve Kinds of Love
According to Gray, most of our emotional needs can be summarized as the need for love, and men and women are both unique in their love needs.
Men primarily need:
Women on the other hand need:
Although men might have those first group of needs as their primary needs, Gray is not implying that the other six (caring, understanding,…) kinds of love are not needed. The same holds true for women.
What he is saying is that they are their primary needs and they will not be able to fully receive or appreciate the other six needs until the primary ones are met. Understanding the primary ways your companion feels love is a powerful insight that will greatly improve your relationship.
How to Avoid Arguments
One of the greatest challenges in any relationship is handling differences and disagreements. Constant arguing can strip a relationship of love and eventually lead to separation.
The secret to avoiding arguments is through loving and respectful communication. If you must make a point, don’t argue. Instead, learn to negotiate. Having this mindset will in most cases nip arguments it in the bud.
Why We Argue
Common things men and women argue about are money, sex, decisions, scheduling, values, child rearing, and household responsibilities. When these discussions and negotiations turn into painful arguments, it is for one reason — we are not feeling loved.
Most of these arguments occur not because two people disagree but because either the man feels that the woman disapproves of his point of view or of him, when in fact she disapproves because he is not validating her point of view or speaking to her in a caring way. This leads to an escalating argument rooted in both parties not feeling their needs being met.
When men and women learn to approve and validate, they will no longer have to argue. They can instead negotiate differences.
Scoring Points with the Opposite Sex
The way a man and a woman keeps score within a relationship is as different as the way they communicate, the way they feel loved, and the way their needs are met.
For example, a man thinks he can score high with a woman if he does something big for her, like taking her on vacation or buying her a new car. He assumes that he scores less when he does something small, like buying her a flower, or giving her a hug. In this way, he thinks that by focusing his time and energy on doing something larger for her, it will fulfill her. However this doesn’t work because women keep score differently.
When a woman keeps score, it doesn’t matter how big or how small the deed was, they all count as one point — each gift having an equal value. This can be difficult for a man to understand. Gray explains it like this,
One way to look at it is to imagine that women have a love tank similar to the gas tank on a car. It needs to be filled over and over again. Doing many little things (and scoring many points) is the secret for filling a woman’s love tank.
Here are some suggestions that Gray offers:
- Give her a hug
- Practice listening and asking questions
- Surprise her for no special reason with flowers
- Make her dinner
- Compliment her looks
- Validate her feelings when she is upset
- When she talks to you, put down the magazine or turn off the TV and give her your full attention
- Wash before having sex
- Wash her car
- Take her side when she is upset with someone
This is just a small list of what’s possible. But it really comes down to one thing: making her feel cherished. If a man learns to do many little things for his partner, it will make a huge difference.
So what about with men? How can a woman score points with them? Well, it’s all about appreciation. When a woman verbally tells a man that she appreciates what he does for her, this scores big points with him.
This works especially well when a man learns to do many small things for his partner, as we just discussed. He will feel loved and want to continue to fulfill her resulting in a cycle of increasing love.
Here are some ways that women can score with men:
- He makes a mistake and she doesn’t say “I told you so” or offer advice.
- He disappoints her and she doesn’t punish him.
- He gets lost while driving and she doesn’t make a big deal out of it.
- When he withdraws she doesn’t make him feel guilty
- She is happy to see him when he gets home.
How to Communicate Difficult Feelings
When we are up in arms and about to burst, it is not easy to communicate difficult feelings. Anger and disappointment need to be expressed in a loving way. Gray suggests that “love letters” are a good way to release negative emotions in a more loving way.
Here are the three parts to the Love Letter Technique;
- Write a love letter expressing your feelings of anger, sadness, fear, regret, and love. Write a few sentences about each feeling. Try to really feel each feeling, gradually progressing until you reach love.
- Write a response letter expressing what you want to hear from your partner. Once you’ve expressed both your negative an positive feelings, it’s at this time that you write how you would like your partner to respond.
- Share your love letter and response letter with your partner. Here’s where you basically have your partner read it.
How to Ask for Support and Get It
If you are not getting the support that you want and need in a relationship, the main culprit may be simply because you’re not asking. Asking for love and support is essential to the success of any relationship.
Keeping the Magic of Love Alive
What many people find to be somewhat of a paradox is that when things are going well in their relationship and they are feeling loved, they suddenly find themselves emotionally distancing their partners or reacting to them in unloving ways.
This is completely normal, and healthy. When we are free to love and feel loved it releases our unresolved feelings allowing us to deal with them in a healthy environment.
To be successful in relationships, you must understand that love, just like nature, goes through its different seasons. Both you and your partner cannot expect to feel the same degree of love for each other at all times. This is what it means to love our partners for “better and for worse.”
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus is the twenty-sixth of fifty-two books in Life Training – Online’s series 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks.