By John Gray
Is your relationship cosmically stressed out? Is a meteor shower of
hassles and time-pressure tearing up your world of love and commitment?
Is your rocket to romance stalled on the launching pad because you cant
choose between Mars and Venus as a destination?
If so, you may wish to consult Why Mars & Venus Collide, the latest
self-help book for relationships by space explorer and love coach John
Gray is the author who charted the differences between men and women in
the 1992 bestseller, Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus.
In that book, Martians (men) and
Venusians (women) fell in love, and moved to planet Earth, where things
quickly started falling apart because they forgot they were from
A couples counselor, Gray outlined the differences between the sexes with
a blend of humor, insight and common sense. Since that time, hes made a
franchise of the Mars and Venus schtick with 15 books, including Mars and
Venus Together Forever, Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, Mars and Venus
on a Date, and Mars and Venus Starting Over.
The cosmic question with his latest book is whether Gray can keep pumping
air into the vacuum between Mars and Venus to resuscitate one more
interplanetary how-to book for improving your relationship.
The answer to that lies with whether you believe Grays premise that men
and women are on a collision course over too much stress in their lives as
a result of the modern workaday world and its demands.
Over the last fifteen years, a new trend in relationships has emerged,
linked to increasing stress, Gray writes. Both couples and singles
believe they are too busy or too exhausted to resolve their relationship
issues, and often think their partners are either too demanding or just
too different to understand...
Everyday stress drains our energy and patience and leaves us feeling too
exhausted or overwhelmed to enjoy and support each other, he continues.
We are often too busy to see what is obvious. A man will give his heart
and soul to make enough money to provide for his family and return home
too tired even to talk with them. A woman will give and give to support
her husband and children and then resent them for not giving back the kind
of support she thrives on giving. Under the influence of stress, men and
women forget why we do what we do.
Not everyone will buy the idea that modern stress is so all-consuming that
were too exhausted or overwhelmed to sustain happy relationships.
After all, this is the era when the Nielsen ratings report that the
average American spends four and a half hours in front of the television
each day -- not the most stressful of activities. And are people really
more stressed now than they were, say, while starving on their farms
during the Great Depression, or while worried about getting shot and
having the house burned down during the Civil War?
And is it really so bad, as Gray claims, that couples enjoy text-messaging
and emailing each other rather than communicating? For many of us, TMing
or email is a fun reminder that Im thinking of you.
If anything, one could just as easily make the claim that relationships
suffer today because we live under less stress than at any time in human
history. The flip side of stress is malaise and ambivalence.
But fans will be more inclined to agree with Gray, who cites a rogues
gallery of stress-producers, such as longer working hours, credit card
debt, health care issues, rising costs for food and housing, and the
problems of raising children in two-career families. If youre in this
orbit, Why Mars & Venus Collide offers advice for recognizing the
problem and learning how to lower your stress and that of your partners.
Gray is at his best when hes offering practical advice and making common
sense observations about the differences between men and women.
In one provocative passage, he says that men and women tend to award each
other points for good behavior. But whereas men tend to think that
grand gestures should be worth a large number of points, women tend to
award a single point for every effort, be it the gift of a Mexican
vacation, or volunteering to vacuum the house.
A man receives one point each for going to work each day, coming home at
night, and remaining faithful, Gray says. But if he fails to perform any
of those requirements, all of his points go up in smoke. Gray also claims
that women award a single point for gifts, no matter how grand; so a man
would do better to give his sweetheart a single rose daily for 12 days
than to buy a bouquet of a dozen roses... good advice, perhaps, for