Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lessons from Johnny Lingo and the 8-Cow Wife

(Article submitted to Xenia-Gazette)

One of my all time favorite short stories is “Johnny Lingo and the 8-Cow Wife”. The title sounds a bit demeaning, I know, but the punch-line at the end of the story transcends all negative connotations.

The story involves a puzzling and mysterious bridal transaction by Johnny Lingo for Sarita, a very plain-looking, backward young woman that probably wouldn’t bring a dowry of one cow, let alone eight! Even though Johnny was a master fisherman and business expert, everyone on the South Pacific island of Kiniwata thought he lost big-time when he brought eight cows to Sarita’s father and asked for her hand in marriage. Most brides only brought two, or at most, three cows.

What would motivate someone to “overpay” to such an extreme? Was he arrogant? Was he deluded? Was he blind? This is the mystery behind this little story. So that you can enjoy it for yourself, I will not steal your delight by spilling the punch-line. A link toward the end of this article will allow you enjoy the entire 10 minute story yourself.

I will provide a hint that “Johnny Lingo and the 8-Cow Wife” is a creative example of investing in marriage. Too many couples stop investing after several years, and then wonder where all the sizzle went. Instead of seeing their marriage as a valuable treasure, they come to perceive it as a burden, a mountain or worse—a curse.

A healthy marriage is one of the most valuable “possessions” one can acquire. Yet, it does not become healthy automatically; like a garden, much investment of time, energy and sacrifice is required. Value is added when we sacrificially invest in this most basic, foundational and potentially fulfilling of all relationships.

A recent public service campaign entitled “What have you done for your marriage today?” features “on-the-street” responses to this question. Some individuals and couples respond quickly by sharing of a small act of kindness done for their partner. Others seem to get a “deer in the headlights” look, as if you had just asked them about aliens living in their neighborhood!

I would always like to have a positive answer for anyone who asks me, “Lavern, what you done for your marriage today?” Typically, I could respond with a smile and say, “I made coffee for Ronda” or “I gave Ronda five reasons why I would marry her again” or “I asked Ronda if there is anything she needs from me today”.

Failure to invest in one’s marriage should not lead to surprise in its devaluation. No investment, no gain.

So, are you wondering about Johnny Lingo and why he paid eight cows for a rather non-descript damsel? If you would like to enjoy this memorable 10 minute story, here is the link: http://www.alivewithlove.com/fun/heartwarming/johnnylingo.html.

But please go beyond the story. Be sure to reflect on some new ways to invest in and add value to your own marriage. After all, if you want an 8-cow marriage . . .