I have read all of John Gray’s books in the past, and recently picked up his new one called, “Venus on Fire Mars on Ice.” It has a lot of the scientific data that I enjoy absorbing. I haven’t realized this about myself until after the affair, but I am somewhat of a geek. I love gathering data, research and information to help me understand life’s problems.
The insert of the book promises to provide the knowledge required to “…ensure a steady supply of feel-good hormones for you and your partner.” He states that he would teach me about stress hormones, especially the ways that they harm our health and complicate our ability to relate to one another.
Perfect! This is exactly what I need to replicate the feel good hormones that Doug experienced during his affair and transfer them to our marriage. I can’t say that I have totally read the book from cover to cover yet, as I am one who likes to skim the book, read the chapters that interest me, then go back and read the entire book.
The chapter that caught my eye was “Love, Sex and Happiness.” Gray states that in a mature relationship love is not a feeling, but rather a way of being–a decision. If we are to love we must avoid the trap of behaving however we may be feeling on any given day. That puts love on a seesaw with us; down one day, up the next.
He also says that love doesn’t grow from being adored. It grows when it persists and endures through times when we or our partner are difficult to love (like after the affair). Ultimately, we should not love to get what we want or need. Love should be its own reward. To feel love as a result of our own deliberate actions and responses is a far greater experience than the love we feel in response to someone else’s behaviors and actions toward us (affair love). We can only sustain love through genuinely making sacrifices to give our support.
Gray believes that in order to give this support we must learn to support ourselves. We must learn to create our own fulfillment if we expect to give others what they need. He emphasizes the 90% rule–90% of feeling good is entirely our responsibility. We gain our sense of well being through the people and activities we bring into our lives. Do not include your partner among these people because they are only 10% of your happiness.
I had difficulty grasping the 10%, however Gray believes that it eliminates the blame game. You can’t blame your partner for everything that goes wrong in your life. He believes that the 90% takes us back to ownership of our well-being. He is mainly talking about stress and questions if we are taking care to reduce the stress that complicates and weighs down all the good things in life.
Stress is the real troublemaker in our lives and blaming our partners for our stress-based unhappiness only increases the stress. Gray states that the single most important thing we can do for our health and the health of our relationships is to reduce stress.
Gray goes on to elaborate detail of how we should reduce our stress. He believes sex is the cure for much of what ails us. Doug has been telling me that for years, but I thought is was just a ploy to get me in bed. Sex has the ability to reduce stress, improve health, and enhance communication.
Frequent sex raises the production of our feel-good hormones: testosterone for men, oxytocin for women. When sex is combined with feelings of love and affection, the act triggers an even greater release of hormones. That’s all I need to know!
The next stress reducer is taking responsibility for our own happiness. In order to find happiness we need to look for love and support aside from our partners. I have some apprehension about this because so many other relationship experts discuss the importance of spending time with your partner, and establishing clearly defined boundaries with respect to other relationships. Gray, on the other hand, seems to encourage outside stimulation. He gave a list of suggestions on how to find happiness aside from our partners: Look to yourself, to work and coworkers, rest, recreation, hobbies, vacations with friends, schedules, priorities, family members, therapy, support groups, etc. I am sure you get the idea.
He cautions though, that these activities will only be effective and benefit your relationship if you develop the right attitude. If a person begins to look at this support as something we are not getting from our partner, we begin to resent our partner. Instead of feeling gratitude and fulfillment from the love we are getting other places we use it to justify our feelings of victimhood. The more we get from the world, the more we resent that our partner can’t or won’t provide the same kind of support.
I found the book very interesting especially the chapter on stress and how it effects our hormones, our relationship and basically everything in our lives. It helped me to understand why I act the way I do after the affair when I am under a lot of stress, and how important it is to try to control the stress in my life.