Are We Really From Different Planets?

There have been hundreds, if not thousands of books written on the subject of relationships.  Relationships with self, with colleagues, with Creator and specifically about the intimate relationship we choose to have with one other ‘special’ person.  So with all this help out there, why are we not all living happily ever after with the prince or princess of our dreams?

Divorce statistics are cause for a lot of conversation in today’s society.  One in three marriages fails in the first three years.  A lot of people are choosing not to get married.  What makes it so difficult to maintain a healthy, loving relationship?  One reason may be that there is no handbook for marriage, no qualification or exam you can take.  We just fall into romantic love and trust that our instincts are right.  This is the one!  Another is women’s new found financial independence and self reliance.  We no longer need men to “bring home the bacon”.  We have Woolworths and a credit card!  However, having someone to share life with is still on a lot of wish lists.

That initial attraction can be exhilarating.  We spend hours talking and finding out all we can about each other.  Going to chick flicks together and sharing our emotions with someone who is attentive and caring.  Bingo, we found prince charming!  Suddenly sport is interesting!  We go out of our way to please each other; we spend as much time together as possible and make sure we let the other person know how much we care about them.  And we really do care…

A few years later the ‘reality’ has set in, bills to pay, hectic work schedules, children to look after.  Just finding time together as a couple may now take a back seat to the reality that life together has become.  All conversation now seems to be about work, money or the children, never about each other the way it was in the beginning.  Something has changed, something has been lost and we don’t seem to understand each other at all.  And as for the sex, we are either too tired or not interested at the same time!  So what happened to the butterflies, the passion, the fun?  Who is this person we are living with? They certainly seem to be from a different planet, and what did they do with the guy we fell in love with?

Having found myself alone again after one marriage attempt and a long term relationship, (long term nowadays being anywhere from 2 years to 5 years for most people!),

I wanted to learn how to attract and maintain a positive, loving relationship with a man!  I read a copy of Dr John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus books, and found the concept of men and women coming from different planets very apt.  The book offered practical and fun ways of looking at the differences between Martians and Venusians and I could relate to a lot of characteristics and behaviours of both.  When I found out that John Gray offered workshops and accredited facilitators to deliver the workshops, I went over to the States to go through the process and bring the workshops back to SA.

For those of you who have not read the book, the story goes like this:

Imagine that thousands of years ago men lived on Mars and women lived on Venus.    Martians were into gadgets and technology, Venusians all had Masters Degrees in Psychology.  One day a Martian invented a telescope and saw the Venusians.  Just glimpsing the Venusians awakened feelings he had never known.  Soon the Martians invented space travel and flew to Venus.  The Venusians welcomed them with open arms; they had intuitively known this day would come.  The love that grew between Martians and Venusians was magical.  Even though they were from different worlds, they revelled in their differences.  They spent months learning about each other, exploring and appreciating their different needs, preferences, and behaviour patterns.  For years they lived together in love and harmony.

Then they decided to fly to earth.  The effects of earth’s atmosphere took hold and one day everyone woke up with amnesia.  We forgot we came from different planets and were supposed to be different.  Without this awareness men and women are at odds with each other.  We mistakenly assume that if our partners love us, they will react and behave in certain ways – the ways we react and behave when we love someone.  We become angry and frustrated with the opposite sex when we are not getting what we expect or want.  This attitude sets us up to be disappointed again and again and prevents us from taking the necessary time to communicate lovingly about our differences.

It has taken me a long time and the kissing of quite a few frogs, to find a real prince charming.  How did I find him?  I changed the way I was looking and what I was looking for.  I took classes in Martian to learn how to communicate and therefore get more of what I wanted.  I learnt how to give him space so he would want to spend more time with me.  I understand that we are different in expressing our needs and wants, and that those differences do not have to cause conflict.  We can have a difference of opinion, but it never escalates into a fight. He has learnt to understand Venusian and stop giving me solutions when I don’t want them.  Understanding we are different helps us to take a breath before speaking, and do a quick translation.  Ultimately, we know we both want the same things.  To love and be loved, to be happy and fulfilled in our relationship, to share our lives together with trust and honesty and have fun in the process.  We don’t always go about it the same way, but we understand how to balance our differences and laugh about them.

Published in Women Inc magazine October 2006. Vol 2 Issue1.