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John Gray on His Book, 'Why Mars and Venus Collide'

The author of 'Men are from Mars, Women from Venus' explains how men and women manage stress differently and what they can do for stress relief.
By Annabelle Robertson
WebMD Feature

After a stressful day, you need help at home. He just wants to chill. So while you prepare dinner, do the laundry, straighten up, and bathe the kids -- yet again -- he's watching the news. Meanwhile, you're getting angry.

Sound familiar? If so, you're like every other couple in America, says best-selling author John Gray (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus).

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In his latest book, Why Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress, he describes the epidemic of stress plaguing us today -- and what men and women can do to meet in the middle for stress relief, while respecting gender differences.

WebMD recently spoke with Gray. Here's what he had to say:

Q. What are women's biggest complaints about their male partners today, and what are men's biggest complaints about their female partners?

A. The biggest complaints women have about men is that men don't listen, they stop being romantic, and they don't help out with chores. Men say that nothing they do is ever good enough.

Q. Everyone agrees that couples are all under a lot of stress these days. But are we really that different from other generations -- say, those who lived through world wars?

A. We are under the greatest stress that's ever been in recorded history. ... We live in a sea of stress, and it's a new cause that really goes unrecognized. Gradually, in the last century, more and more women have become co-providers. Never in history have women been the providers in a family situation. They were always the nurturers, the homemakers.

Q. Are women under more stress than men these days?

A. Women have twice as much stress. Cortisol levels (stress hormones) are twice as high when she walks into the house, because she's thinking about all the problems she has to solve and all the things she has to do.

Q. Why don't men just pitch in?

A. Men are not instinctively motivated to help out around the house. Men are motivated to do things that produce testosterone. As soon as testosterone is produced, they feel better and they have more energy.

Q. So they resist routine, which makes them passive?

A. A man says, "Only do what's necessary." I've seen very capable, dynamic single men who, once married to a very dynamic, capable woman, their whole passion starts to lessen. Their wives start handling everything and doing everything.

What I tell women, you have to start realizing that ... he can do it well and make a difference. If you allow him do it his way, it may not be perfect, but at least you're not doing everything. And your stress levels will go down. Elevated stress levels in women tend to be associated with feeling overwhelmed and for some women, also a desire for perfectionism. 

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