Mars and Venus: Understanding Women

Andrew: This book had been strongly recommended to us by many couples, so we finally picked it up and read it for ourselves. I really found many of the tips in the book very, very helpful and strongly recommend it to all dating and even married couples. In fact, I found the book so useful that I was thinking of getting another copy so both of us can have one each, instead of sharing one.

Andrew: Here are some pointers that have really helped us in understanding each other better and communicating better. We’re only sharing the tips which were especially helpful for the sake of brevity.

Helping men understand women

Truth 1: To fully express their feelings, women assume poetic license to use various superlatives, metaphors and generalizations.

Andrew: Women often say things like “We never go out”, “We are always in a hurry”, “Nothing is ever going right”, and what men often do in those situations is to provide a rational, reasonable response to those extreme statements, like “No, that’s not true, we went out last week.” That completely misses the point of what the woman is expressing and might even result in a quarrel and the man invalidating the woman’s feelings.

John Gray helpfully provides a set of interpretations for various ‘poetic statements’ that women make. What I’ve learnt when encountering such situations with Jasmine is to withhold judgment and to show her that I understand what she’s feeling. Easier said than done, of course – to ask a man to withhold his rational side is almost like asking him to stop functioning altogether as that is the only side that most men, or at least I, normally use to respond to situations! Difficult – but I’m trying.

Jasmine: Women should also note that men, even the ones they are closest to in their lives, are not wired like your girlfriends, who know how to read an absolute statement like "I’m dying to quit my job" as a cue to empathise and comfort.

Men, on the other hand, take things literally. If I said, "I’m dying to quit my job" to an average man (which I am not– I love teaching, haha), he’d probably respond, "Then quit lor".

This boils down to our very natures as men and women. Women are by nature socially-oriented, whereas men are solution-oriented. Women need to talk about many things, mostly unrelated and in no logical sequence whatsoever, as a means of reflection and problem analysis before they finally reach a conclusion. (Guys, note that I said "conclusion" and not "solution", as women often already have a solution and don’t need your solution- just your listening ear.)

Men, however, have already analysed their problems and come up with solutions before they share. Men will often exhaust all options on their own before they even think of seeking someone else’s advice. Very often, the person whose advice they will seek is someone they truly admire. (So ladies, if he asks for suggestions, you can be assured that he truly respects and values your opinion! Otherwise, don’t offer unsolicited advice- that makes a man feel like he is incapable of solving his own problems, which is very ego-damaging.)

The most important thing to remember here is that men take things literally. When I’m feeling emotional, I try to preface my statement with a disclaimer, for instance, "It’s just me being irrational" or "Perhaps I’ve just had a bad day" or "I’ll probably think differently tomorrow, but I’m dying to quit my job".

And Andrew’s going to share about scoring points in Truth 3, so I’ll just add here that when a women rants emotionally, it’s actually a golden opportunity for you to score points with one simple word, "Why?" (Use a sympathetic tone, and add on "tell me more, dear" to earn 500 bonus points.)

Truth 2: Women are like waves

Andrew: A woman’s self-esteem rises and falls like a wave. When she hits bottom (which John Gray describes as going into her well), it is a time for emotional housecleaning.

Most men expect women to be happy forever, or more accurately, for there always to be a reason behind why the emotions fall. More dangerously (and I am definitely guilty of that!), a man assumes that the woman’s change of mood is based solely on his behaviour. He may feel extremely frustrated because he doesn’t know how to make things better.

The solution John Gray provides in his book is simple, yet effective – don’t try to fix it. Once again, this is something that’s not always easy given men’s ‘fix-it’ mentality. What a man should do during this time is just to be with her, listen to her share her feelings and empathize with what she’s going through. Offer her love, attention and support. I’ve been guilty too of making comments that don’t fully support her like, ‘We’ve worked through this issue before right, dear?’  (Jasmine: heh, or more accurately, "Huh… Haven’t we been through this before?") and am now learning to just support her. A few more helpful insights from John Gray:

– A man’s love and support cannot instantly resolve a woman’s issues. His love can make it safer for her to go into her well.

– A woman going into her well is not a man’s fault or his failure. By being more supportive, he cannot prevent it from happening, but he can help her through these difficult times.

– A woman has within herself the ability to spontaneously rise up after she has hit rock bottom. A man does not have to fix her. She is not broken but just needs his love, patience and understanding.

Jasmine: Yes, and the flip side of women being like waves is men liking their caves. But this is a pretty big issue so we may dedicate a whole other post to it.

Truth 3: When a woman keeps score, no matter how big or small a gift of love is it scores one point; each gift has equal value.

Andrew: Gray shares about how men think that doing one big thing scores him many points and how men will eventually just focus on doing big things occasionally, yet women need many expressions of love in a relationship to feel loved. Many of these things are extremely simple too, as Gray shares 101 simple things men can do to score points with women. I’ve been learning how to use some of these tips like complimenting her on how she looks (won’t share too many here or else Dearie will know the ‘tricks’. Heh).

Jasmine: Aiyah, I’ve read the book too what. Heh.

To his credit, Andrew does make an effort to be observant and compliments me not just in a general way (i.e "You look pretty"- though that’s always welcome!), but in a way that shows he’s noticed a specific detail (i.e. "I thought you looked great in those heels’ or "I like your new haircut").

Oh yes, and being understanding when she is late because she couldn’t decide on her outfit also scores plenty points. Follow up with abovementioned compliment i.e. "you look great in those heels". (But be fair ladies, and try to be punctual. Try. :P)

Andrew: Mark Gungor shares about scoring points in a very hilarious way in his video here.

There are many other videos by Mark Gungor on relationships which we highly recommend!

Jasmine: We’re saving the best for the last here, so one final way to "score points without doing anything at all", as Mark Gungor puts it, is to plan a date, and then let her know in advance that you are planning it. Men think that women love big surprises, but what they should realise is that when you inform your partner beforehand, you are increasing her anticipation and reminding her of the effort you are putting in to be romantic. Telling her in advance also gives her the chance to share it with her friends, so even more bonus points for you!

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