In May of 1992, John Gray published a book entitled “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” and at the time it gained the attraction of the world. Women flocked to bookstores to purchase the one book that would finally explain to them why their husbands/significant others acted the way they did. Finally there was an explanation as to why men behaved the way they do–apparently, we learne, they are in fact from Mars. 😉
I can still remember both my mother and mother-in-law sitting in their perspective living rooms reading this book cover to cover. I am sure they too were among the millions of women seeking answers to their relationship problems. I am pretty sure they did not find the answers they wanted but at the time I was young and clueless and could offer no input into the situation. If I could go back today and speak to them both about their individual situations, the first thing I would do is tell them to throw that ridiculous book away. It is their fault I got stuck having to read this book and to this day I continue to take issue with it…keep reading and you will understand why.
I was 19 years old, broken and confused when I was handed this “wonderful” book. My husband, then boyfriend had received a copy from his mom (lucky me) and he was using this book to try to explain his irrational, immature behavior. Apparently his mom had given it to him and he related to it and therefore thought I would understand what he was experiencing if I read it as well. Some might say it was a great way for him to explain to me why he acted the way he did. Other’s might ask the same question I did “WHAT THE HELL?”
You see there is a chapter entitled “Men are like rubber bands” and the theory revolves around men pulling away and stretching like a rubber band but if allowed to do this they then will snap right back next to their women’s side. If they aren’t allowed to do this then they will keep pulling until the rubber band snaps and breaks. Maybe the author was trying to say as women we can’t hover and be up in his grill all of the time, really I am not sure–but a rubber band?
This was the chapter that my love opened the book up to and said “please read, and then you will understand.” At 19, I read it, burst into tears and was completely lost and mistook it as I was forcing him to act the way he was and it was all my fault. I did not understand that he was trying to tell me that he was having growing pains and he needed a minute to deal with it. As a teenager, I lost it. As the extremely rational woman I have become, who can easily control her emotions and look at a situation from all sides, personally I see this as an excuse for bad behavior. I am sure I am missing some valid information but again I still carry deep-rooted resentment from this book and I am not about to go back and re-read that chapter now.
Apparently I still have issues–I particularly still take issue with this rubber band theory. Looking at this rationally, calmly and without emotion I have to say that I still think it is ridiculous. Men need space. Ok, so do women. I can promise you that if anyone, my husband, my children, my best friends, anyone, was constantly saying “Hey where have you been? What’d you do? What’s up?” everytime I walked into a room I might go a little crazy too. Everyone needs space whether it be physical or emotional, we all need a moment here and there to relax in our own quiet. This is not just a quality men share.
If the “rubber band” chapter was not bad enough then here are some other cliches this book spews. Men go to caves while women talk. Really? REALLY? Is it just me–am I honestly that different from other women? When I have a fight with my husband, the first thing I do is get quiet and retreat–not always physically but mentally. I don’t check out and I do care, but what I need is a moment (or an hour) to absorb everything that has been said and process it. If I just speak and react to the situation, I know that I may not be able to stay calm and I know that my emotion may cloud the situation. On the flip side my husband needs to talk. No he does not call up his buddies and whine and complain, but he does want to sit and talk with me and deal with it until we are both ok. He has learned that I need a minute and he gives that to me, but I am sure that if I did not come around and return to the discussion he would be right there trying to make things better. My point is, per this book he should be retreating to his ‘man cave” and I should be calling my BFF crying. So is he really a woman and I am a man?
Here is another lovely chapter “Mr. Fix it” vs “Home improvement.” Men want to immediately fix things and women want to talk about it and just be heard. Seriously? So I just want to bitch and not have anything fixed. I DON’T think so. I am pretty sure that when I bring up and issue or he does that I am all about fixing it–in fact, the sooner the better.
I really don’t understand why this book is so highly-regarded. All of this got me wondering why a book like this would be so popular if it was not relevant to people. So this past week I started discussing it with friends. Ironically a male friend of mine was having an issue with his wife–immediately I thought this is perfect. Now I can ask him his opinion and prove that I am not the only one who thinks this book is lacking. Though, sadly, I was quickly disapointed. Even he made a comment that supported these theories, “I say one thing, she hears the other. She says one thing, I hear something else.” This was not what I was hoping to hear.
I was looking for something a little mote like “she explodes but then she is able to talk to me.” While not the way I would handle it, that seemed like a valid manner in which many women would respond. But NO, I was not so lucky.
Back to square one I sit here wondering–Do men and women really have this much trouble communicating? Are most women that needy and irrational that men need to pull away so that they can come flying back? Is it too difficult for us as women to remove the emotion and be rational enough to have a conversation where feelings are shared while taking in the man’s perspective? Is it just me? Am I an anomaly?
Please share your thoughts with me on this one–even as I sit here and type I am at a total loss.
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