Full transcript of author John Gray’s TEDx Talk: Mars Brain, Venus Brain at TEDxBend event.
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John Gray – Relationship counselor, lecturer and author
So I asked him to turn up the lights so that I could see you as well. We are talking about relationships after all. And the most important thing in a relationship man is to see your wife. You can see who is married in a restaurant or who is dating. If a man is dating a woman, he is looking right at her. He’s got one goal. And once he’s climbed that mountain you can relax. So you see the married men they’re looking around. Quite often somebody else catches their attention, I haven’t seen her before. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her, his wife; it just means he never saw that before. Like we all do this, that’s why we go on vacations to lovely spots, new places, getting off the plane here and then it was blown away by the beautiful mountain. It’s exciting.
You go somewhere new and different, it stimulates the brain chemical called dopamine. And dopamine gives us motivation, it gives us pleasure, it gives us focus and it gives us happiness in our relationships: passion. When we fall in love with somebody, it’s literally like we’re high on drugs. Maybe you don’t remember if you’ve been married for 28 years like I have. But I am reminded of it with my youngest daughter who is in that first falling in love stage with her live-in, they’re planning – they’re planning but she is a modern woman, she wants to be completely financially self-sufficient before she gets married. As the new woman she wants to be sufficient. Yes, yes I mean we all want to be self-sufficient. We all want to be independent and then from place of wholeness come together, it’s a new world. I’m going to talk about that new world today.
But one of the most important things is to understand this brain chemical dopamine. Because when you haven’t met someone before and you’re getting to know them all the ingredients are there to stimulate dopamine, newness and there is no history, you’re complete: where we’re going with this, what’s going to happen and that stimulates his brain chemical. And in men dopamine stimulates a hormone called testosterone. So suddenly men’s testosterone levels are surging, the average man at 50 has half the testosterone levels he had as a young man. It starts to drop. A lot of things contribute to that. But one of the things is marriage. You know, I’m 62 but I went to the 50s with my friends and several of my friends got divorced and they came alive. Not that I’m not recommending divorce to come alive. But I’m recommending learning new relationship skills to come alive in your marriage.
But it’s like suddenly when you were somebody new, just going somewhere near, being with somebody new, it stimulates dopamine and for men dopamine stimulates testosterone. And for men testosterone lowers stress. Stress – I don’t mean stress in your life. Life is always stressful, problems everywhere. But how do we react to life is dependent on our hormone response to life. And for men testosterone is the hormone that helps men keep their stress levels down. Most people don’t know this but I learned this when I started — I mean it was like 30 years ago, I was reading — 20 years ago maybe 30 somewhere in there – I was about to go see the movie Grumpy Old Men and I was also reading that one of the differences between young men and old men was that men’s testosterone levels go down. And then I made the link: Grumpy Old Men.
Think about men when they haven’t been laid for a while, they get grumpy. They’re irritable. And yet we always thought that testosterone caused all that irritability. But actually for men it’s estrogen. It’s all those Grumpy Old Men have super high estrogen levels and low testosterone, who knew? One of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, prostate cancer for men is low testosterone. All men with depression have low testosterone. And that’s why depression is very different for a man than for a woman.
Depression for a man is that feeling: ‘nobody wants me, I’m not needed anymore’. Basically I’m out of work, nobody there to respond to me, nobody there for me to fix, help, serve, support. So being out of work is the major depression for men, or being in a marriage where you feel you can’t do anything to make your partner happy. I get to see as a marriage counselor for over 30 years, people often on their last exit, because I’m famous, people say, yeah, you go see him, so I get the tough cases. But it’s a challenge.
And what I hear again and again for men, I take them in aside: what is the problem here. Okay, what’s going on here? What’s the — if we could fix one problem what would that be? ‘John, the only problem here is my wife’s not happy’. That’s it.
Now I do these seminars, workshops at my ranch for like four days and we start out men in one room, women in the other. Without my influence, I have the men write down their complaints about their wives, relationships, women in one room. Women do it in another room and then we spend the whole four days working on that. And men have one sheet and women have five. And men’s list is one or two words, critical, complaints, nags, punishes, not interested in sex. That’s the longest one they come up with. There’s that list over there.
And women got all these lists, so it gets a big long list, everything is a long sentence and if this, then that, all that stuff. And men go see. Now I got a few claps for that which I’m not asking for but that’s what excites men. I made a difference. So men love their dogs so much. When I come home, my dog is happy I’m alive. It touches — it touches something so deep inside of every man, to the whole evolution of men, men were like out there in the dangerous world. If you came home alive they celebrated. Now you’re always back. You left the lights on in the living room last night before you left. That’s what I get.
So men got — you know she was just happy and what’s the man thinking if she was just the way she was when I married her. When men get married they want you to stay the same as if you came. And I realize that women will never be the same, they’re like the weather. It’s always changing, it’s sunshine, blue cloud, puffy cloud, blue sky, puffy clouds, rain storms, lightning strikes, hurricanes, tornadoes.
Now if you’re from Mars you have these instincts that you’re the worst thing when you’re with the Venusian. See on Mars when there’s tornados what do we do? We find a ditch and lie low. It’s not what women expect you to do. That tornado comes in, you’re supposed to like stand there. It’s something to matter. And if you read any of my books anyway you have to say when every cell in your body says I can’t take it anymore, I got to find a ditch and lie low. Let me get my car and drive somewhere. Instead you stand there and just keep looking. And when there’s a break you say, ‘Huh, tell me more’. She feels like I’m married to Superman. After that you could do that and I teach people how to do that, it takes but you have to at least know what you’re trying to do here, because men who have been married, they say no matter what I say or do it makes it worse. And I say that’s because what you say and do is wrong. It just doesn’t work. You’ve just told me it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But what does work — nothing. Nothing. You cannot make a woman happy. You cannot change the weather. It changes by itself.