Author Of 'Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus' Provides Modern-Day Update

John Gray, the author of the classic relationship book, provides an update.

Last updated on Apr 05, 2023

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When my book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was published on April 23, 1993 — 30 years ago this April! — the book was hailed by readers and critics alike as a genuine take on what happens in “modern” relationships and marriages. Over the years, those same critics have circled and declared this once “groundbreaking” message is now antiquated and out of touch.

The truth is far from the critic’s reality. As an author, I still receive the same glowing feedback from the one source that ever truly mattered to me and that’s from the readers: the couples whose lives are touched by the messages in the Mars Venus books. 


The question for my critics and advocates alike to really think about is what has happened to relationships over the past three decades — and how the Mars-Venus message applies to a modern couple.

A lot has changed — but men and women are still as complex as ever

From my perspective, there are a few very meaningful societal shifts over the past 30 years.

  • The Internet and smartphone technology have become a seamless part of our lives. The very format we use to communicate with family, friends, loved ones, coworkers and our children has changed and it will never return to what it was even 30 years ago.
  • The way we find potential mates has evolved. We’re no longer just looking in person, now we can look any time of day from any computer in the world. And with sites like reporting that 20 percent of marriages form online, the tools we now use have become more effective than ever.
  • The role of women in the workplace has been changing since World War II and continues to develop. 
  • Gone are the days when men could do the majority of the breadwinning and a family could thrive. The need for multiple incomes has changed for most families and today, more and more families require that both parents work to simply make ends meet.
  • The consequence of these changes has been that the roles that men and women traditionally occupied in relationships have changed.

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What it all means for the modern couple

Truthfully, it means we need more time, patience, and skills to navigate relationships. Unfortunately, for many couples, time is one thing they feel like they don’t have. Without the skills to understand what’s really going on in your partner or spouse’s mind, it’s very easy to make mistakes and misinterpret the signals received.

From my perspective, the core principles in the Mars-Venus books are more important than ever. Even if we have to “age” them a bit so they reflect the changes we’ve experienced in our society in the past 30 years.

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Here is a guide to translating the five most important Mars-Venus core messages into today’s fast-paced world:

1. Men and women are different

This is as true today as it ever was. We are different. The core message here is that men and women have different ways of giving and receiving love. What makes him feel safe, secure, virile and capable of giving to those he loves is different than what she needs.

From my perspective, there’s nothing wrong with being different. It doesn’t mean that one sex is better than the other; it just means we’re different. Understanding those differences is the key to creating harmony in relationships. Denying they exist is like trying to teach a fish to walk on land; it simply can’t happen and trying to make it happen is futile.

I know there are a lot of scientific studies out there that take on the brain chemistry of male and female brains, and for those of you who believe in this science I ask you to consider this: it’s not just science that makes up how we relate, there are also the complicated variables of societal messages played out in popular culture, the values you were raised with and a host of other factors that make up the complete picture of who you are.

However, brain chemistry differences related to our hormones are one big piece of the puzzle.


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2. To recover from stress he needs a cave and she needs a well

This is also true today, only for women, it’s far more complicated. The root of this complication is that with so many women in the workforce, women are required to spend more time on the “male” side to be successful at work. The more this goes on, the more we’re seeing that women need a cave too. Let me explain what this means.

The “cave”, as I define it, is a metaphorical place where people go to de-stress. It’s not a conversation about what created the stress; it’s an action like mowing the lawn or going to a ball game where you can remove yourself from the stress — even the thinking about the stress — and be totally distracted for a time to let your mind relax from the incident.

What happens for most men after this time away is that they are able to return with clearer thinking about what to do. It’s also at this time that men either act or ask for help. It’s a mistake to believe that men never ask for help; men ask for help but ONLY when they know they need it.


For women it’s different. The traditional concept of the well is that women need to dig into their feelings in order to understand what’s going on inside. For many women, the challenge 20 years ago was around finding the time to talk about their feelings. They would bottle things up for a period of time until they could release them. The longer they held on to their feelings, the deeper into the metaphorical “well” they would go in order to let things out.

What’s changed for modern women is that, while they still have this need, there are competing factors that give them mixed messages about letting their feelings out. To begin, consider how most women spend their days … at the office, on their male side, solving problems and slaying dragons just like their husbands.

As Tom Hanks said, “There’s no crying in baseball” and the same is true for the workplace. Being an emotional woman means she often gets overlooked for promotions and is seen as a difficult employee. If she wants to be successful, those parts of her life are better left at the door before she walks in.

With women working long hours and overtime, this compartmentalizing of their life results in women stuffing, rejecting and hiding their feelings. There are only so many hours in the day, and if talking about her feelings doesn’t fit into the schedule, it simply doesn’t happen until it must. Unfortunately, when those times erupt, the depth of her confusion, despair and hopelessness are even deeper and darker than they would have been if she had allowed herself to be in touch with her feelings a little at a time.


Consequently, the concept of the “wave/well” for women is even more powerful today than it was 30 years ago because today a part of her isn’t valued in the same way as it once was by modern society. That very act of denying her feelings can be harmful to her self-esteem. This is why therapists and coaches are hearing more than ever from women, “Why am I so successful at work but I can’t find a mate or make a relationship work?”

The pendulum has shifted too far in exclusively honoring how women are successful at work when they’re on their male sides without some equal value to their feminine side. And the place we see that playing out in marriages is, specifically, in the bedroom.

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3. He’s exclusively from Mars and she’s exclusively from Venus

The reality (and I’ve spoken about this for years) is that we’re all made up of Martian and Venusian qualities. Our lives are like concentric circles with some overlapping in the middle. But our core natures, based on hormonal differences, still remain. It’s just a different degree today.


Take the example of high-powered women. For her, while she’s the “boss” at the office, when she walks through the door at home, her other duties kick in. She comes home to a list of responsibilities, things she truly values doing for her family, that begin after six at night. The biggest issue I see is the need women have to somehow shed their masculine job roles and adopt their wife and mommy roles by the time she walks in the door. There’s no time for a stop by the cave for a quick fix, so she bottles that up, too, for another day.

The challenge of being both male and female is overwhelming for many women, and it’s very confusing as to which sides of them are valued, respected, appreciated, and seen as attractive. Modern women are burdened with these dual roles and the biggest impact is often in the bedroom.

If you look at magazines, movies, and art, the way we still depict attractive women is in a very feminine way. The hard-core businesswoman is not the one we see men lusting after on film. This very mixed message is one of the hardest things women have to combat and it reminds me of the song lyrics: I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget you’re a man …”

Modern women are under more stress than ever and all of this impacts sexual attraction. To say that the recipe for her to fix this is to come home and shed her powerful self in exchange for a softer, sexier side would be seen as an archaic, sexist request by many readers. Yet I tell you, it’s the women who master this dance between their business self, motherly self, and wifely self, that are in the most successful marriages today.


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4. Attraction is created through effort

The question today is who should make the effort. What’s key to retaining a healthy sex life in modern marriages is two things: creating time for sex and actually doing it. No one’s sex life is perfect. Every couple has a story of a bad night, a “couldn’t keep it up” moment, or a time when it wasn’t a priority. The important thing is, with everything we have going on in our modern lives, we still need the intimate connection that only comes from sex.

Attraction is created when you prioritize the need to have this special time together. Men's and women’s brains are still hardwired so her biggest sex organ is her mind and his biggest challenge is to turn that mind on. The big question is if men are seen as so easily turned on and women are asking for more sex, why isn’t it happening?

The answer is in the effort. Women can do anything. We all know this. But when a woman does everything, it’s guaranteed to backfire in the bedroom. The challenge men need to take on is doing the work to mentally turn their women on. The challenge women need to take on is letting them. If she’s in control (and certainly we’re talking about the majority of the time here) then he’s not able to turn her on mentally. And for women, sex begins in the brain. If you want to help your wife to have a good orgasm, it begins in her mind, not down south.


Nothing in a marriage does what sex does. Sex is a time between two people that is exclusively and solely for each other. Your job, your finances, your kids…nothing else matters in the moment when you’re lovingly connecting with your partner. Chemically, sex helps with relaxation, better health, and cementing your commitment to each other. The bottom line here, modern marriages need more sex.

For singles, the issues around sex are complex but can be boiled down to a few things.

Men grow in their attraction when they pursue and they are allowed to pursue. What has changed is how we communicate, not the underlying reasons why we communicate. Smartphones, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter all have impacted our communication but sending 10 text messages to a man is motivated by the same fear as placing 10 phone calls was a few years back.

Next, when sex happens too soon in a relationship, and usually this is before you’re committed, the foundation to handle the insecure feelings that arise after sex isn’t there. This means that when insecurities rise up, the onus on managing those feeling are on the individual person. That message was discussed at length in the book, Mars & Venus On a Date, and the message hasn’t changed.


What has changed is how we think about sex. The opportunities to find potential mates, especially with online dating are more abundant than ever. However, that doesn’t stop many people from feeling the fatigue that excessive dating brings. Sex itself seems to be everywhere, readily available, and a bit less special because people are having lots of sex with lots of people.

The question singles have to ask is why they’re having sex. Is it to vet a possible mate or make a mate happy or are they simply into sex? The core message here that remains the same is that the right time to have sex is when you’re ready.

Not when someone pressures you to have sex, but after you've had time to get to know each other’s values and beliefs, and feel secure enough not to panic if you don't have contact for a week after. In the past 20 years, that message hasn’t changed.


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5. In every relationship there is a Martian and a Venusian

The question is who fits those roles. The Mars Venus message has evolved to apply to all relationships: heterosexual, LGBTQ, and relationships where she is more Martian and he is more Venusian. The critical thing to think about is that we are attracted to balance. Relationships that are out of balance are those where you have too much male energy (the high-powered couple where everyone is in charge all the time) or too much female energy (the depressed, powerless couple where everyone is in need and no one takes charge).

In every healthy relationship, there is a person who is the classic “Martian” and one who is the classic “Venusian." In heterosexual relationships, those roles are typically filled by the man and woman, respectively. As our lives become more complicated, there are more questions as to how it plays out in relationships.

What needs to be considered is the bigger issue of how we want to give and receive love. Does it happen through caregiving and nurturing or does it happen through problem-solving and action? There’s no right or wrong to this question, but something you want to consider in your search for love and your quest to sustain love.


If you’re the person that wants to be called in an “emergency”, then you’re like me and you’re the “emergency man” in your relationship. My wife doesn’t want this role, she wants to be able to put out an “all-points bulletin” when something goes wrong and I love stepping in to help. That works for us.

Modern marriages are most successful when two people understand who they are at their core, related to this question of giving and receiving love. 

If you’re single and searching, think about what you need to understand about yourself, how you handle stress, and what you’re attracted to, in order to bring in the “right” mate and turn away those who don’t fit your needs. If you’re married, think about how you communicate your needs to your partner and learn to understand their needs to reduce stress in your marriage.

Remember, the Mars-Venus message is as important today as it ever was. More than ever, we need to learn how to understand ourselves and communicate our feelings, needs, and desires successfully to our partners.


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Dr. John Gray is a leading relationship expert whose books, including Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus have sold over 50 million copies in 50 languages in 150 countries. He helps men and women better understand and respect their differences in both personal and professional relationships.