The Eight-Cow Wife or Did You Marry the Wrong Person?

Have you ever wondered whether you married the wrong person? People often cite having chosen the wrong person to marry as the reason for their divorce. Is it possible that some people fail at marriage simply because they are with the wrong person? Would you like to determine whether you chose the wrong person to marry?

Zig Ziglar, a motivational speaker, made the following comment on this topic:

"I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage...I'll be the first to admit that it's possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you will certainly end up with the wrong person. I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you."

This quote suggests that blaming our relationship struggles solely on being with the wrong person is denying the power and responsibility that each of us have to impact a relationship positively or negatively. Dr. Phil holds us responsible for the atmosphere in our relationships, and further suggests that we teach people how to treat us by the way we respond to them. The philosopher, Goethe, made the same observation many years ago. He said,

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make a life miserable of joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming."

When we recognize the influence and responsibility

that we have in a relationship rather

than blaming our partner for being the wrong person, we are no longer powerless to create positive change in a relationship. We can make a difference. The following fable illustrates the power we all have in relationships:

Johnny Lingo lived in the South Pacific. The islanders all spoke highly of this man, but when it came time for him to find a wife the people shook their heads in disbelief. In order to obtain a wife you paid for her by giving her father cows. Four to six cows was considered a high price for a wife. But the woman Johnny Lingo chose was plain, skinny and walked with her shoulders hunched and her head down. She was very hesitant and shy. What surprised everyone was Johnny's offer-he gave eight cows for her! Everyone chuckled about it since they believed his father-in-law put one over on him.

Several months after the wedding, a visitor from the U.S. came to the islands to trade and heard the story about Johnny Lingo and his eight-cow wife. Upon meeting Johnny and his wife the visitor was totally taken aback, since this wasn't a shy, plain and hesitant woman but one who was beautiful, poised and confident. The visitor asked about the transformation, and Johnny Lingo's response was simple. "I wanted an eight-cow woman, and when I paid that for her and treated her in that fashion, she began to believe that she was an eight-cow woman. She discovered she was worth more than any other woman in the islands. And what matters most is how a woman feels about herself."

This story, about the power of love, honor and respect, provides a good example of the influence we are all afforded in our closest relationships. How many cows is your spouse worth?

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Cathy Noblick, LCSW • 39 Avenue at the Commons • Suite 106 • Shrewsbury, NJ 07702 • 732-380-0012

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