Friday, March 20, 2009

Quick Clarification - Expert Opinion

Extract from John Gray's Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

Note: It is along post... however, don't ignore the bold lines.


When a woman is stressed she instinctively feels a need to talk about her feelings and all the possible problems that are associated with her feelings. When she begins talking she does not prioritize the significance of any problem. If she is upset, then she is upset about it all, big and small. She is not immediately concerned with finding solutions to her problems but rather seeks relief by expressing herself and being understood. By randomly talking about her problems, she becomes less upset.

As a man under stress tends to focus on one problem and forget others, a woman under stress tends to expand and become overwhelmed by all problems. By talking about all possible problems without focusing on problem solving she feels better. Through exploring her feelings in this process she gains a greater awareness of what is really bothering her, and then suddenly she is no longer so overwhelmed.

To feel better, women talk about past problems, future problems, potential problems, even problems that have no solutions. The more talk and exploration, the better they feel. This is the way women operate. To expect otherwise is to deny a woman her sense of self.

When a woman is overwhelmed she finds relief through talking in great detail about her various problems. Gradually, if she feels she is being heard, her stress disappears. After talking about one topic she will pause and then move on to the next. In this way she continues to expand talking about problems, worries, disappointments, and frustrations. These topics need not be in any order and tend to be logically unrelated. If she feels she is not being understood, her awareness may expand even further, and she may become upset about more problems.

Just as a man who is stuck in the cave needs little problems to distract him, a woman who doesnʹt feel heard will need to talk about other problems that are less immediate to feel relief. To forget her own painful feelings she may become emotionally involved in the problems of others. In addition she may find relief through discussing the problems of her friends, relatives, and associates. Whether she is talking about her problems or othersʹ problems, talking is a natural and healthy Venusian reaction to stress.


When women talk about problems, men usually resist. A man assumes she is talking with him about her problems because she is holding him responsible. The more problems, the more he feels blamed. He does not realize that she is talking to feel better. A man doesnʹt know that she will appreciate it if he just listens.

Martians talk about problems for only two reasons: they are blaming someone or they are seeking advice. If a woman is really upset a man assumes she is blaming him. If she seems less upset, then he assumes she is asking for advice.

If he assumes she is asking for advice, then he puts on his Mr Fix‐It hat to solve her problems. If he assumes she is blaming him, then he draws his sword to protect himself from attack. In both cases, he soon finds it difficult to listen.

If he offers solutions to her problems, she just continues talking about more problems. After offering two or three solutions, he expects her to feel better. This is because Martians themselves feel better with solutions, as long as they have asked for a solution to be offered. When she doesnʹt feel better, he feels his solutions have been rejected, and he feels unappreciated.

On the other hand, if he feels attacked, then he begins to defend himself. He thinks if he explains himself that she will stop blaming him. The more he defends himself, however, the
more upset she becomes. He doesnʹt realize that explanations are not what she needs. She needs him to understand her feelings and let her move on to talk about more problems. If he is wise and lust listens, then a few moments after she is complaining about him, she will change the subject and talk about other problems as well.

Men also become particularly frustrated when a woman talks about problems that he can do nothing about. For example, when a woman is stressed she could complain:

• ʺIʹm not getting paid enough at work.ʺ
• ʺMY Aunt Louise is getting sicker and sicker, each year she gets sicker.ʺ
• ʺOur house just isnʹt big enough.ʺ
• ʺThis is such a dry season. When is it going to rain.
• ʺWe are almost overdrawn in our bank account.ʺ

A woman might make any of the above comments as a way of expressing her worries, disappointments, and frustrations. She may know that nothing more can be done to solve these problems, but to find relief she still needs to talk about them. She feels supported if the listener relates to her frustration and disappointment. She may, however, frustrate her mate partner‐unless he understands that she just needs to talk about it and then she will feet better.

Men also become impatient when women talk about problems in great detail. A man mistakenly assumes that when a woman talks in great detail that all the details are necessary for him to find a solution to her problem. He struggles to find their relevance and .becomes impatient. Again he doesnʹt realize that she is looking not for a solution from him but for his caring and understanding.

In addition, listening is difficult for a man because he mistakenly assumes there is a logical order when she randomly changes from one problem to another. After she has shared three or four problems he becomes extremely frustrated and confused trying logically to relate these problems.

Another reason a man may resist listening is that he is looking for the bottom line. He cannot begin formulating his solution until he knows the outcome. The more details she gives the more he is frustrated while listening. His frustration is lessened if he can remember that she is greatly benefiting by talking about the details. if he can remember that talking in detail is helping her to feel good, then he can relax. just as a man is fulfilled through working out the intricate details of solving a problem, a woman is fulfilled through talking about the details of her problems.

Something a woman can do to make it a little easier for a man is to let him know in advance the outcome of the story and then go back and give the details. Avoid keeping him in suspense. Women commonly enjoy letting the suspense build because it brings more
feeling into the story. Another woman appreciates this buildup, but a man can be easily frustrated.

The degree to which a man does not understand a woman is the degree to which he will resist her when she is talking about problems. As a man learns more how to fulfill a woman and provide her emotional support he discovers that listening Is not so difficult. More important, if a woman can remind a man that she just wants to talk about her problems and that he doesnʹt have to solve any of them, it can help him to relax and listen.