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Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus.

This phrase was made famous by John Gray in his book of the same title. I have this book. It was given (without hesitation and rather hastily) to me by my cousin. He didn’t like the book. He didn’t think I would either. But I have to admit I did. It was quite catchy, at least to my then 16-year-old-self. In fact, this book served as my roadmap even before I met my husband. It gave me insight into how men and women are different. That men and women think and act differently when it comes to sex, communication, conflict and various other areas of life.

I didn’t know all this… Having grown up with sisters and having mainly female friends, I didn’t have that many interactions with boys / men. I knew they were different, but I just didn’t know to what extent. Fast forward to a few years later when I did meet my husband and my lessons with the opposite sex gradually began…except I didn’t realize this until much later…

In the beginning, my husband didn’t seem like one of those “typical men”. He didn’t think nor act like they tend to. Neither did I act like those “typical women”. Gender differences in our relationship didn’t exist at this point. At this time too, the Mars / Venus book was still on my book shelf, but it had collected dust over the years of neglect. I had forgotten about it completely. Clearly, I didn’t need it.

But a few years thereafter, especially so after we got married, I noticed that my husband was a lot more of a guy than I realized. (Shocking!) And to his surprise, I turned out to be more of a girl than he realized. (Shocking again!)

A simplified look at the male vs. female brain…

For example (and those of you who don’t like Gray’s book are not gonna like this part), my husband didn’t understand that I needed to talk just for the sake of sharing / talking when I was upset or worried, and gladly doled out (unsolicited) solutions to my problems. In his defense, apparently I was soliciting his advice by talking about my problems. Or my husband would retreat into his cave during stressful times or times of conflict, and I would then follow him in an attempt to draw him out (to no avail I may add).  I also didn’t understand how his brain could just shut-off whatever things were going on in it when it came to sex, while for me sex was interwoven to everything else in my life (even the dishes)! …They say men’s brains tend to be made up of neat little boxes, while women’s brains are a big ball of wire. (Check out this hilarious video to see what I mean.)

And so it all started to come back to me. The things I had read in the Mars / Venus book suddenly seemed to make sense and was happening in real-time to me. As much as I hated to admit it, gender differences were present in our relationship. My husband and I weren’t as different from the norm as we thought.

There is a lot of criticism surrounding John Gray and his book. There is also a lot of debate on whether men and women are truly that different from each other with neuro-psychologists at the forefront of this debate. (In fact, there is a great documentary which ironically aired on Valentine’s Day on this topic which I highly recommend for those of you who have 45 minutes to spare of your time.) But there are also a lot of other books that talk about the differences between men and women — husbands and wives — albeit in a more diluted way.

Here’s what I have come to realize though. Men and women may not be from different planets, but we are definitely different. Equal but different. I don’t need to have a book prove this to me, or disprove this to me. Nor do I need to have everyone who reads this post agree with me, because I know there are tons of people out there who just don’t gel with this assertion either. What I do know though about men and women is based on my own experiences with my husband. (Although… neuro-imaging studies on how men and women’s brains function differently on the same tasks do tend to highlight these differences too!) And come to think of it, is there any relationship more intimate than a marriage that can truly reveal such gender differences? (Note: This also doesn’t mean to imply that similarities do not exist between men and women. Of course they do! And that’s important to keep in mind too because without those similarities we wouldn’t be able to even be in a relationship with the opposite sex!)

Bottom line? Rather than trying to clump men and women into one category and denying that such differences even exist, recognizing, understanding and appreciating such differences can go a long way in creating a harmonious, peaceful and loving relationship between a husband and wife. And isn’t that what all couples strive for in their marriage? Harmony, peace and love…

Like I said before, men and women are equal but different… and maybe that’s a good thing after all.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to stop talking and sharing with you, so I can go see what my Mr. Fix-It husband is up to. 😉