Valentine’s day and the eight-cow wife

By: 
Dennis Warden

Since today is Valentine’s Day I want to confess to you that I’m in love with my wife, Connie. I have been for over 30 years. Because I adore her I treat her like the lady she is.

In many ways, I’m old fashioned. I hold the door for her when I can. When we eat out I’ve been known to hold her chair as she sits down. I love to hold her hand and just be with her.

I learned a long time ago that if you want an eight-cow wife you need to treat her like an eight-cow wife.

In case you have never heard the story of the eight-cow wife by Patrica McGerr here it is.

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A long time ago there lived a young islander named Johnny Lingo. He lived on Nurabandi, not far from the island Kiniwata in the Pacific. Johnny was one of the brightest strongest and richest men in the islands, but people shook their heads and smiled about a business deal he had made with a man on Kiniwata. He had paid the unheard-of-price of eight cows for a wife, who was by any standards unattractive. As one fellow explained, “It would be kindness to call her plain. She was skinny. She walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked. She was scared of her own shadow.”

The amazing fact was in those days, two or three cows was the custom dowry for an average wife, and four or five a highly satisfactory one. Why would Johnny pay eight? Everyone figured Sarita’s father, Sam Karoo, had taken young Johnny for a ride, and that’s why they smiled whenever they discussed the deal.

The teller of the story finally met Johnny for herself and inquired about his eight-cow purchase of Sarita. She assumed he had done it for his own vanity and reputation — at least she thought that until she saw Sarita: “She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. The lift of her shoulders, the tilt of her chin, the sparkle of her eyes all spelled a pride to which no one could deny her the right.” Sarita was not the plain girl she had expected, and the explanation lay with Johnny Lingo.

“Do you ever think,” he asked, “what it must mean to a woman to know that her husband settled on the lowest price for which she can be bought? And then later, when the women talk, they boast of what their husbands paid for them. One says four cows, another maybe six. How does she feel, the woman who was sold for one or two? This could not happen to my Sarita.” 

“Then you did this just to make your wife happy?”

“I wanted Sarita to be happy, yes. But I wanted more than that. This is true. Many things can change a woman. Things that happen inside, things that happen outside. But the thing that matters most is what she thinks about herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. Now she knows she is worth more than any other woman in the islands.” 

“Then you wanted —”

“I wanted to marry Sarita. I loved her and no other woman.”

“But — she said, close to understanding.

“But,” he finished softly, “I wanted an eight-cow wife.”

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The moral of the story is simple — if you want an eight-cow wife, you need to treat her like she is an eight-cow wife.

In today’s society we certainly don’t have dowries. But, you can still make your spouse feel that they are worth eight-cows. Brag on them.

Let’s face it, when couples start having children it becomes harder to be romantic. That’s why you need to get away on your own now and then to rekindle the flame. Sometimes you may need to take it to extremes.

More than once I kidnapped Connie. When she was a third-grade teacher I made arrangements for someone to watch our kids, and worked out details with her principal. On the appointed day I packed a suitcase for Connie and went to her classroom with a note stating she was being kidnapped. I promptly took her away to the Lake of the Ozarks for a couple days of rest and relaxation away from kids and work.

I love my children, but I love my wife more. I will be with her and love her until the day I die.

Husbands always remember the best thing you can do for your children is to love your wife and treat her with the respect she deserves. Your son will learn how to treat a woman from your example and your daughter will expect the same treatment from the men she meets.

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