This summer I stumbled upon a lecture that fascinated me. It was John Gray discussing hormonal expression in both healthy and unhealthy relationships. I put up the video with my notes in the post Hacking Hormones in a Relationship. I was interested enough in the topic that I had to read the book.
Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice: Hormonal Balance – The Key to Life, Love and Energy by John Gray Ph.D.
Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice is a must-read for those wishing to better understand the opposite sex. Never in a million years would I have ever picked up and read a relationship book had it not been presented as a solution to understanding that men and women respond differently to the same hormones. What de-stresses a man is different than what de-stresses a woman at a hormonal level.
Testosterone relieves stress in men, whereas Oxytocin is the stress-relieving hormone for women. Although women can feel great by engaging in activities that stimulate their production of testosterone, it does nothing to lower their stress levels. They need Oxytocin which is released when they engage in nurturing activities, receive assistance, engage in cooperation, and feel they are being listened to.
This is a problem in the modern era. Women are now increasingly employed in traditionally male occupations which foster competition, deadlines and being rushed. All things that stimulate testosterone, do nothing to lower her stress levels. The networks of supportive females that her grandmother had in earlier times are gone.
The Male Problem
The testosterone levels in men have been falling for decades. A number of factors are cited including an increase in abdominal fat, lack of sleep, and environmental toxins. If a man is motivated enough, these things can be greatly improved with a solid diet, good sleep, and a sane exercise plan. But that is not enough.
Men no longer need to be as manly as they did when familial survival was dependent upon their success. But a man still requires to feel important in the eyes of his woman. As women begin to earn more degrees and higher salaries, men begin to lose their sense of purpose. Their need is to be needed. When he can sense his contribution is not important or minimized, he loses purpose and motivation, which are unattractive characteristics to the female. Testosterone is fueled by success.
The Female Problem
John Gray makes the case in his book and lecture that the damage of stress is doing more damage to the health of women than men. Men can get their testosterone fix in numerous ways. Women still need to develop the social structure to decompress, which is more difficult to do when their day is spent putting out fires and meeting deadlines, which do nothing to reduce their stress levels.
The book does cover how a woman should communicate with her man in a way that keeps him motivated. Use friendly, brief, and direct requests instead of pointing out mistakes and making corrections. This provides a man with a measurable path to success, which makes him feel important. And when he feels important his motivation increases, which is an attractive characteristic to women.
I did a follow-up post Hacking Testosterone and Increasing Oxytocin for ideas on increasing and improving our relationship hormones.
The 90% Number
John Gray encourages partners to get 90% of what they need emotionally from the world and just 10% from the man or woman they love. This is great advice, but it also explains to me why so many relationships fail after the newness factor wears off. When a couple first meets they often will spend lots of time together. This commitment comes at a cost, especially for a woman if she is forsaking the social networks that engaged her in a nurturing way because she is spending more time with him.
I want to speak more about the 90% number and something I felt John Gray missed in his analysis, but this post is getting long enough. Look for a follow-up post later this week. Posted: What John Gray Missed in Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice.
I highly recommend Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice: Hormonal Balance – The Key to Life, Love and Energy. It explained so much of what was previously a mystery to me. The book concludes with some food and nutritional supplement ideas, which I haven’t looked at too closely.
Sep 26, 2012 — 10:36 am
I was really intrigued by the video; thanks for pointing me towards it !
Is there sufficiently more information in the book than in the lecture ?
Sep 26, 2012 — 10:40 am
@Michael – It was very similar. The book was a great follow-up to my understanding, but it isn’t necessary to grasp the big ideas.
Sep 26, 2012 — 10:41 am
Having watched the video and then read the book, I feel that you get most of the information (the conclusions) from the video. The book provides some more background and more explanation and such, but the video is a really good summary of the book.