Create Your Own LOVE MIRACLE

a chat with: John Gray PhD.

As part of his four-week Love Lesson, Create Your Own Love Miracle, best-selling author and relationship expert John Gray, Ph.D., author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus and Practical Miracles for Mars and Venus, joined iVillage members for a live chat on February 27, 2001. Click on a question to get the answer, or read the full transcript here!

trinity923: How can I resolve communication style differences in my relationship? One person deals with problems and conflict immediately and the other waits to talk about conflict.

John Gray: He who drives fast needs to respect that person who is not comfortable driving fast. If you want to solve a problem right away or address an issue and your partner is not ready, then it is foolish to go against his nature. The secret of success in any relationship is to accept differences and work out a reasonable compromise. In this case, reason dictates respecting the person who needs more time.

To be fair the person who needs more time should let their partner know when they are ready to discuss an issue. It should not be the responsibility of the person who is in a hurry to resolve conflict to continue asking their partner when he or she is ready.
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Becky: My husband changed radically after we got married. He promised he'd never smoke again, but he started an hour after the wedding, gained 40 pounds, and we stopped having long and deep conversations. Instead, he buys me things. I want his attention and affection, not meaningless trinkets. What's going on with him? What can I do?

John Gray: Your husband, like many men, might not have had a role model of a man demonstrating affection, consideration and attention. These are learned skills. Usually, men who don't learn them are taught early on to show affection through doing things or providing things. While your husband is automatically motivated to buy things to display his love, he is not automatically motivated to listen, display affection, ask questions, give compliments, etc. These kinds of expressions tend to be automatic in the beginning when he is focused on communicating his love. Once that is achieved he doesn't go back unless someone teaches him that it is necessary.

To help understand why he stopped doing the little things, consider this logic: When a man is dating, he wants to demonstrate his love for the woman. Once they are married (which is the acknowledgment that she trusts his love) then instinctively there is no longer a need to convince her that she is loved. Unfortunately, he assumes the marriage is enough and he doesn't have to do any more. For example, he might think, "Why do I have to keep saying I love you? You should just know. After all, I married you. I don't have to keep telling you what my name is -- why should I have to keep telling you I love you?"

I am not suggesting that you accept this explanation and surrender to the thought you'll never get what you need. Instead, take time to understand how men and women think differently, and with an attitude of acceptance, not resentment, let him know in small increments what you want.
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cm-caryn: Could you tell us a little bit about why you wrote this new book and how it differs from the others that you have written?

John Gray: In Practical Miracles for Mars and Venus, I explore the importance of managing stress on our own and not depending solely on our relationship for emotional fulfillment. The theme in this book is how to overcome our tendency to become overdependent on our partners for love.

In addition, I explore the same problem as it relates to work and health. We have become overdependent on money and things for our happiness and as a result we are unable to really appreciate and enjoy what we have. In the realm of health, we have become too dependent on doctors, medicines and exercise programs to sustain our body's natural ability to heal itself.

In this book I outline and describe nine principles with corresponding tools and techniques to create lasting passion, increase success, and most important, vibrant health as we get older.
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finnish_mom: I am married to a man who is very good at arguing. He is totally rational. But for this reason he gets patronizing when he argues, and I end up turning into a spineless wimp. Sometimes I can't even think of what to say to him or even figure out what I think, even though I know I am an intelligent person. Then, if I'm quiet for three seconds, he says, "Oh, so you're giving me the silent treatment?" Talk about him seeming like he is from another planet! What can I do at those moments when I feel like a bug getting stomped on? It's infuriating to feel so incompetent.

John Gray: We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and it sounds like his tendency is to dominate in arguments when that is not something you're good at -- or wish to be do at all. It's important to note that what makes you attractive to him in the first place is your softness and vulnerability. Let him know at another time that part of being soft, responsive and vulnerable includes becoming more emotional at times of conflict. Tell him at such times that it's hard for you to think objectively with so much feeling bubbling up. Ask him to come up with a phrase for you to say, one that he would not find offensive, so that you can let him know if you need to take a time out.

One such phrase might be, "I need some time to think about this and then we'll talk later. I'll let you know when I'm ready. Thank you for your patience." Suggest something like that, but let him come up with the words. That way when you need time to breathe he won't feel as though you're controlling him because you're choosing to use a phrase he came up with. Taking the time you need to sort out your feelings will give you greater confidence, strength and reasonable flexibility to resolve differences.
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suzie1119: My husband and I were separated for six months. He moved back home last week and says he wants it to work. But everything about him is selfish. For one, he acts as though he needs to be rewarded for coming home. Then, today, he was off fishing all day with a friend, and tonight he went to his weekly dart league. He can't seem to understand that I need some attention to. Just being back does not make me grateful and happy.

John Gray: First realize that part of the reason your husband came back is that during your separation he got to experience time away from the relationship -- and this time is vital for men to stay in touch with their love, affection and commitment to their partner. My suggestion to you is to encourage him to go on fishing trips and go out with his friends. When you're not needy of his time and attention, you become more attractive to him, and the time you do share together will be more quality time. In Practical Miracles for Mars and Venus, I explore the importance of sustaining a sense of autonomy so that passion and love can last a lifetime. Particularly for men, distance makes the heart grow fonder. When women have many sources of fulfillment, and do not depend solely on a man's attention, they become more attractive in his eyes, and as a result get more attention and affection.

A healthy way to consider your mate is to think of him as a great dessert, but not the main meal in your life. In the book, I explore nine different emotional needs. What we can get from a partner satisfies only one of those. By looking to our partner for everything, we sabotage the potential success of a relationship.
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tays.toy.nz: My husband-to-be's mum left his dad when he was only 17, and it hurt him deeply. His opinion of women was not good when we first met. Now, I feel as though this experience affects the way he treats me. I think he still doesn't know how to trust. Could his mum's death have caused him to think this way?

John Gray: Without a doubt our relationship with our parents will affect our adult relationships. Not trusting a parent can easily restrict our ability to open up and feel our emotional needs at the same time. But regardless of their upbringing, the way many men approach relationships is assessed by many women as dysfunctional when in truth it is just different. It is difficult to decisively say how much of your fiancee's behavior comes from a dysfunctional fear of intimacy caused by unresolved hurt regarding his mother and that which is basically normal intimate behavior for a man. A man with no intimacy issues will still express his love differently from the way a woman would. For example, he will instinctively show love through his actions and be inept at revealing his emotional vulnerabilities.

The good news is that you don't need to know how much of his behavior comes from his emotional wounds. By learning to accept him just the way he is while responsively asking him to satisfy your essential needs, he can feel his inner blocks. Instead of asking him to open up and share feelings, ask him to be a good listener. Then appreciate him for listening. In time he will open up more.
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tmc6: Before my husband and I got married, we came to a mutual agreement about when we would start having children. Now, it's the time we decided on, and he says he doesn't want them yet. How am I supposed to accept this when I want children so badly?

John Gray: As with any difference of opinion in a relationship, compromise is required. It sounds like he's asking you to give up too much by waiting. You need to renegotiate until both of you can agree on such an important decision.

What will help negotiation is if you ask him to explain in greater depth why he wants to wait. Try not to be critical or challenge him. Try to see the merits of his perspective. This will make him more willing to see your perspective. When he is done rephrasing his perspective share with him how difficult it is for you to wait. Let him know why you want to begin having children. Focus on revealing to him all the positive feelings you would have if you got pregnant now and started growing a family. Share with him how good it would feel. Hopefully, this conversation will motivate him to change his mind in order to fulfill your dreams.

He may be holding back because he doesn't feel financially ready or capable of supporting his family. Ultimately he wants you to be happy. Appeal to this sincere desire by pointing out that having children would make you much happier than having bills paid, new things, grand vacations or a bigger house. Good luck!
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rainy_kisses: My husband is here with me, and would like your professional opinion, Dr. Gray, on why women tend to bring up sensitive relationship-type topics out of the blue. For example, a wife asking hubby in the middle of a vacation, "Are you happy in this relationship?"

John Gray: From the male point of view, if you're off to have a good time, why would anyone want to bring up potentially frustrating feelings. Yet, from the female perspective, sharing feelings, whether they are positive or negative, if done in a respectful way, will generate a greater sense of intimacy. This is hard for men to understand because they experience the fulfillment of intimacy through doing things together, particularly things that turn out positive. In a sense, a man feels closer when he provides something, and it makes a woman happier. To him, it seems the opposite of intimacy for her to bring up a potentially sore subject.

Another reason why she might ask questions like, "Do you still love me?" is simply to get reassurance, just as a man might say while visiting the Grand Canyon, "Wasn't that a fantastic experience?" If on a trip she brings up issues, realize these are things that are coming up so that she can sort them out in order to fully enjoy being with him. Remember, there's no need to fix or solve the issues. Patiently listen. Then, a way of changing the subject is to ask what is working. Ask, what does she appreciate, or what is she looking forward to on this trip. He will be surprised at how much positive feeling is waiting to come out after she has explored some of her unresolved issues.
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What do you see as the greatest challenge to couples in maintaining a positive, vibrant marriage?

John Gray: I think overcoming the side effects of familiarity and routine is one of our greatest challenges. Passion is generated when we have new experiences. When life becomes comfortable, the passion disappears. In Practical Miracles for Mars and Venus, I explore nine guiding principles to keep our relationships fresh with a sense of newness. One of the principles is live as if you're free to do what you want. When you feel obligated to do things, it kills passion. Another principle is relax as if everything will be okay. Too much stress will block our tender feelings. One can learn how to relax even in the most stressful and challenging situations. Another principle is learn as if you're a beginner. To keep passion alive we need to always be challenging ourselves in some new way. This brings newness to those elements of our life which are not new and the marriage is revived. This explains why one of the best ways to revive romantic feelings is to go somewhere new, have new experiences, meet new people and sleep in a different bed. These are a few of the many insights and examples helping us successfully manage stress in our marriages, at work and even regarding our health. Thank you very much for having me. I hope these ideas are helpful. Good luck!
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For more information on John Gray visit his Website.

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