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Gray Matter

SHONALI MUTHALALY
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INTERVIEW Best-selling author John Gray talks about Mars-Venus relationships

RELATIONSHIP THERAPIST John Gray
RELATIONSHIP THERAPIST John Gray

In 1992, a book was released. It had a simple premise. Men and women came from two different planets, hence their differences.

More than two decades, seven million copies and many mended marriages later, John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus has become a therapist to the world. Gray’s 17 books have sold over 50 million copies in 50 different languages.

Does the Mars-Venus metaphor, created in the early 90s, still hold good with today’s Facebook generation?

Men and women have been the same since thousands of years. It’s just the culture that has changed over a period of time. Women are now working and have to deal with copious amounts of stress. I teach women how romance and good communication skills help combat stress. I teach men how to understand their partners and be loving and patient. My message still holds good for people today and will continue to do so down the line.

This seems to be the age of flings, friends-with-benefits and one-night stands. Have all the rules changed?

All these factors only stem from immaturity. Women and men should stop jumping into bed with random people to satisfy their shallow desires. True satisfaction only comes from learning to wait, and the wait will definitely help you get the love you deserve.

The perception is that people are more cynical nowadays: less willing to work on relationships. At the same time, the self-help aisle is bursting with books on love. How would you explain this dichotomy?

I don’t agree with this perception. It’s just that people in relationships have higher expectations these days and they do not know how to fulfil these expectations. So, they quit and move on.

In the older generations, there was no concept of lasting romance. People realised that after the honeymoon period, love would gradually transform into a more stable relationship. However, in today’s generation, people want the romance and passion to last but are unwilling to work at it. So, that’s where the problem lies.

Pop culture has gotten into the act. Now advice comes from a variety of sources, ranging from serials like How I Met Your Mother to self-styled relationship gurus on reality TV. How valid are these multiple sources?

Much of the information in books, magazines and especially television shows communicates very unrealistic information about relationships to the audience who lap it up eagerly. Then, when they actually go on to try and be in a relationship, their expectations are not met and they get disappointed.

My books teach people how to set realistic, achievable goals in a genuine, loving relationship for greater fulfilment.

In Venus On Fire, Mars On Ice , you talk of the roles that blood sugar, body fat and nutrition play, and how the differences between the sexes are biochemically based. And is that what it all boils down to – love, as a chemical reaction?

Well, the state of consciousness is connected to a state of physiology. For instance, when a woman’s blood sugar drops, she finds it difficult to be in a pleasant state of mind. She gets prone to irritation and tends to find mistakes in her partner. A balanced mind and nutrition are extremely essential for the brain to work properly.

Did you see Mars-Venus becoming such a massive brand when you wrote that first book?

When I first wrote the book, I was just sharing my relationship experiences with the world. Turns out, that most people went through the same issues I faced! The book has a universal message — about the differences between men and women and it’s something that is not differentiated by age or location. These are issues faced by couples all over the world and they all relate to my message, so that’s what made it stand out.

When it comes to relationships – are there things that still puzzle you?

Yes, definitely. I find myself helping people with new challenges every year. New research data is being formulated and brought to me all the time. Being a gender expert for the past 40 years, I help interpret the data with respect to relationships. For instance, new research topics, like how Facebook can affect relationships, are being brought to the forefront all the time.

So, how would you define love?

Love is the wilful intent to serve the well-being of another through acceptance, respect and trust.

SHONALI MUTHALALY



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