Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
We listened to this classic book together after having a particularly stressful argument. After 15 minutes, Lihong exclaimed, "Now I get it...you're a man!"
This classic book by John Gray was written in 1992, but still rings true to us. It does a great job of articulating stereotypical differences between men and women in a format that is great for reading and listening. We highly recommend listening to it together. The author includes lots of jokes and examples that are easy to relate to. Not every couple is going to fit these stereotypes. Sometimes roles are reversed. For example, the author does make some pretty broad generalizations. Don't let this stop you from enjoying the book and learning from this, admittedly simplistic, model of men and women.
Here are our take aways. We also include a list of four "Classic Marriage Arguments", a "Martian/Venusian Dictionary" and a list of favorite quotes.
Understand and accept differences between men and women in order to reduce our natural tendency to demand change and improve tolerance. There are differences between men and women as evidenced by consistencies in complaints made by traditional couples across time and cultures. For example, women are more likely to be seeking empathy when sharing problems whereas men tend to share problems in order to find solutions. The author argues these differences are so engrained as if they come from different planets. This suggests an approach of acceptance rather than demanding change.
Men and women process stress differently. Women talk it through while men find distractions. Women need someone to listen to them in order to process stressful situations. When the listener reacts by trying to fix the problem, women are likely to see this as a sign that the other lacks empathy. Men are different in that they tend to seek distractions as a means of dealing with stressful situations. Common distractions include sports, news, and politics. These distractions put the man's tendency to solve problems to work on other people's problems; which are of no real consequence to the man, allowing him to relax. This is why men often have a "man cave" or retreat to their "nothing box". Women should avoid seeing his retreat as a rejection, and recognize it as his way of coping with stress.
Don't give advice. Almost no one wants advice unless explicitly asked. Even if a women asks for advice, she is more likely to be seeking validation that a situation is more difficult than a cold analysis. Men tend to only seek advice when they fail to solve a problem themselves. Thus, a man seeking advice is probably vulnerable to criticism.
Women should "love" their man by respecting him instead of trying to improve him. Women tend to view their man as a "work-in-progress" in need of constant suggestions for improving. She views her efforts as an act of love, but men often see it as disrespectful and a sign that she does not accept him for who he is. When he resists, she feels unappreciated.
Men should "love" their wife by making them feel "cherished". Women are happiest in a relationship when they feel they deserve love. Men can do this by making them feel chosen. Ask about her day. Listen when she needs to express herself. Notice when she needs help. Each little thing counts as much emotional difference as the big things like "making money".