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.
Q. It means giving up perfection then?
A. Yes. When stress levels are low, everything doesn't have to be perfect.
When stress levels are high, women tend to have low serotonin. The traditional
symptom of low serotonin is
depression. That's where perfectionism comes up -- it's the need for
someone else's approval. That becomes extremely hard on a
Q. So it's a vicious cycle.
A. Exactly. And it feeds itself with stress. If there are 20 things on her
"to do" list, she asks him to do five of those things. He says,
"Sure. If that's going to make your life easier, I'll do those five
things." Meanwhile, she has 15 things and he has five. While she's doing
the 15 and he's doing the five, she adds five more things. He says, "I did
all this and it didn't help at all. I didn't fix it or solve anything." So
if a man comes along to help you, and you take on more things, why bother
helping you? It doesn't seem to help.
Q. So how can a woman actually motivate a man to help?
A. I tell women to stop giving to him. Stop helping him. What women often do
when they want more is to give more. [They] give men a lot of attention and do
all sorts of things for him, even when they don't want to, because it's the
loving thing to do. That's the big mistake. Instead, help him give to you more.
When women are happy, that's when men feel happiest. When men feel successful
in making a woman happy, men's stress levels go down.
What motivates a man is to feel like he did this project for her, so she
could do what she really likes to do.
Q. What are some ways women can manage their own stress?
A. There are three stress-reducers for women. The general one is to do the
things they love to do. The context of my book is to give women permission to
support themselves first, knowing that that's even a greater gift to their
Next, what a woman can do to get a man's support is to ask for a date [with
this] simple request: "Honey, would you get tickets to this play? Would you
pick a movie -- here are three I was thinking. Would you make dinner for
me?" That's the romantic factor.
Two, ask for conversation. You can't have any intention of solving a problem
with this conversation, but you say, "I'm so glad you're here. I just want
to download my day to somebody, and it feels so good when I can do it with
you." You have to be very clear. This is FYIO ("for your information
only.") You say to him, "You don't have to say anything or do anything.
Just look in my direction. I'll do it for 5 or 10 minutes and I promise you, it
will really help. It will make me let go of my day."