The "8 Cow woman" bit - for all of you who are not aware of Mormon culture - is a reference to an iconic 1970's BYU film called Johnny Lingo. You can watch the 23 minutes of awesomeness right here if you like:
For those of you who don't have 23 minutes available to watch it or just want a refresher, a quick synopsis of the film is this. There is a woman named Mohanna who grows up in a small village and everyone calls her ugly and stupid. She has very little self-worth. In the village it is custom for the men to barter with cows for the rights to marry a particular daughter, with her father. Johnny is the most eligible bachelor on the island and a shrewd trader as well. When he comes to Mohanna's father to barter to marry her, everyone jokes that he will only offer a hoof for her and that her father would be dumb to not accept that offer. Instead, to the shock of everyone in the village, he offers 8 cows - an number so high it had never been paid for a woman in the village before. After several months of marriage, Mohanna begins to believe about herself what Johnny has believed about her - that she truly is an 8 cow woman. And she becomes that 8 cow woman. (In fact, at one point Mohanna's father yells at Johnny, "You cheat me! She is worth 10 cows!!) The takeaway and focus for the activity, was that if we can better understand and believe in our divine worth as daughters of God, we can make what we do and who we are match that.
The talk "Your Divine Heritage" by Elder Robert C. Oaks was discussed. One line from the talk was emphasized and made an impression on me. That line being,
"When you find who you are, you will be sorry you didn't try harder."
There were 8 different topics that were discussed, and ways that we can try harder in each of them we shared. They were:
"Confident Cow" - On being confident and using our confidence to reach out and benefit others.
"Fire Cow" - On developing a passion of our own.
"Clever Cow" - On learning to laugh, and learning life lessons.
"Cash Cow" - On managing our finances better and living more providently.
"Holy Cow" - On developing our spirituality.
"Wow Cow" - On developing talents.
"Cuddle Cow" - On improving the romance and intimacy in our marriages.
"Considerate Cow" - On becoming more compassionate and considerate of others.
Different women spoke on each topic. I was asked to speak on the "Cuddle Cow" portion for the evening. As part of my preparation to speak, I made a handout with tons of fun ideas that we can incorporate into our relationships with our husbands, to show them that we care and love them. Since the grunt work was already done, I thought I would take a minute to share that with you all!
Cuddle Cow: Improving Romance and Intimacy in Marriage
"[M]en are simple creatures who come from a woman, are nurtured and brought up by a woman, and yearn for the continued love, admiration and approval of a woman. . . Women need to better appreciate the magnitude of their power and influence over men, and not misuse or abuse it." – Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands
“If there is forbearance, if there is forgiveness, if there is an anxious looking after the happiness of one’s companion then love will flourish and blossom. The prescription is simple and wonderfully effective. It’s love. It’s plain simple every day love and respect.” - President Gordon B. Hinckley
“We cannot rely on our native tongue if our spouse does not understand it. If we want them to feel the love we are trying to communicate, we must express it in his or her primary love language.” – Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages
Don’t know your spouse’s primary love language or your own? You and your spouse can take a quiz online to find out: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love/
Here are some ideas of ways you can communicate love to your spouse in his primary love language.
Words of Affirmation:
“Psychologist William James said that possibly the deepest human need is the need to feel appreciated. Words of affirmation will meet that need in many individuals.” (The Five Love Languages, pg.50)
· Make, buy or obtain a designated “love note box.” Write continuous love notes back and forth to each other, with the box as the drop-off point.
· Write on post it notes with encouraging words your spouse would like to hear from you, and stick them in places where he will find them throughout his day (briefcase, laptop, keys, toothbrush, etc,)
· When you see your spouse for the first time after work/school/etc. stop what you are doing and welcome him in with a long warm hug and be telling him how much you appreciate what he did for you and your family that day.
· Write a long love letter to your spouse. Mail it to him – make sure he’s the one getting them mail the day it arrives.
· Send lovey/sexy/sweet text messages or emails to your man periodically throughout the day.
· Write love notes and lovey cartoons on your husband’s lunch napkins when you pack his lunch for the day.
· Don’t hold back compliments, thank yous, or I-love-yous when you feel the urge to say them. Make sure that when your heads hit your pillows at night, that you verbally express all the ones you might have missed before you both fall asleep.
· During meal, family, and couples prayers, thank Heavenly Father for your spouse.
· Let your husband know you see him as and appreciate him being the patriarch of your home.
· Make a “reasons I love you” flashcard pile held together by a metal ring. This is a great gift for an Anniversary or Valentine’s day – or any old day of the year.
· Avoid negatively speaking about your spouse while also making a conscious effort to speak positively about your spouse and his character in public or private situations. This includes social media, but especially when communicating with friends, your children, and in-laws about your spouse – make it positive!
“Quality time does not mean that we have to spend our together moments gazing into each other’s eyes. It means that we are doing something together and that we are giving our full attention to the other person. The activity in which we are both engaged is incidental. The important thing emotionally is that we are spending focused time with each other. The activity is a vehicle that creates the sense of togetherness.” (The Five Love Languages, pg.64)
· Write a list of activities you know your husband would like to do as a couple or family. Do them!
· Go on walks together around your or someone else’s neighborhood, or a trail.
· Make ice cream in a bag. Pass it back and forth and shake it to freeze it up while a cobbler, cake or brownies cook in the oven.
· Make a nice dinner together. Before you eat, deliver some of it to the homeless around town.
· Pack a picnic lunch and go eat it together on a mountain or other scenic location.
· Pick fruit from an orchard when it is cheap and in season. Can it together.
· Get a dollar’s worth of pennies. Spend time each making wishes with them (out loud) in a fountain or stream. Try to make one of those wishes happen for your spouse.
· While you or your spouse works on a craft or building project for the home, accompany and read (or be read) a book out loud.
· Be active together. Go running, rock climbing, hiking, dancing, swimming, play tennis or throw a ball back and forth together at the park.
· Go people watching at the mall, zoo, Children’s Museum, or another busy location.
· Spend regular time doing family history work together. If and when you get family name(s), go to the temple together to perform the work.
· Do the dishes together by hand. Flirt while you wash, dry and put them away together.
· Watch a dramatic film together, but mute the sound as you watch. Fill in the lines the characters are speaking and additional commentary – Mystery Science Theatre 3000 style.
· Write Wikipedia pages about each other for a date night. Include things like: birth dates, achievements, family and history of relationships, character traits, notable stories or experiences from his/her life, controversial tidbits, embarrassing moments, future plans, etc. Read them out loud.
· Whatever you choose to do while spending time with your spouse, eliminate distractions like cell phones, internet, etc. so you can give him your undivided attention.
“A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, ‘Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money. What is important is that you thought of him. And it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts, but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as the expression of love.” (The Five Love Languages, pg.82)
· Keep a top secret running list of “future gifts to give to my spouse.” Add to it whenever you hear your spouse mention something he would love to do or have. This list will make it easier for you to give thoughtful gifts he will like when the time for giving-giving comes.
· Take note of the things your husband needs – like new socks, underwear, work shirts, shoes. Buy them for him without him having to ask or go shopping too (if he hates shopping like mine does!)
· Plan an overnight themed trip for just the two of you. For example, one year I have my husband a “Trip to Italy” for his Christmas. We went to the best Italian place in town, and then stayed a night in the Adventure Inn in the Venice room. It is one of my husband’s favorite gifts from me.
· Buy your husband’s favorite sugar cereal or candy bar when you’re out grocery shopping.
· Give the gift of a class that your spouse would enjoy. (i.e. Scuba certification class, shooting club, a gym/sport class, ceramics, music, art, etc.)
· Give him the gift of “guy time,” guilt and nag-free.
· Always wear your wedding ring, and keep it clean.
· Build/make/sew a gift for your spouse. (i.e. Pajama pants, a quilt, lingerie, a toolbox, etc.)
· Buy tickets to an event you think your spouse would like to attend (i.e. Sports event, Gas Light Theatre, Movie, Rodeo, etc.) Surprise him with a date night attending that event together.
· Write your and your spouse’s love story. If you draw well, include illustrations, too. Decorate your bedroom like a fancy romantic hotel. Label the door with a hotel name, have Martinelli’s Apple cider and cheesecake to drink and eat, have nice-smelling candles burning, dress up in something beautiful. Read that story together during your stay at the “Ritz.”
· Surprise your husband with the thoughtful purchase of a big item he would love to have (i.e. a power tool, a gun, a tech device, etc.) Save up for the item through secretly cutting back and saving in an area or two of your budget. (i.e. Groceries, clothing, toiletries, etc.)
Acts of Service:
“By acts of service, I mean doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. . . They require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love. . .” (The Five Love Languages, pg.97)
· Have cookies and milk (or some other special/favorite treat) ready for him when he arrives home.
· Fill the gas tank when it is empty so your spouse doesn't have to fill it.
· Iron his shirt/pants for work and/or church.
· Be on time for appointments, church, activities and etc. that you attend as a couple or family.
· Do what you can to make your household run smoothly and efficiently so you can live on less.
· Bake him homemade bread. Serve with fresh honey butter. Warm.
· Pack your husband’s lunch for work/school.
· Make the bed.
· Take 15 minutes to spruce up a bit before your husband arrives home. (i.e. Be dressed in clothes that aren’t your pajamas, brush your teeth, put on deodorant/perfume, put on a bit of make-up, etc.)
· Make your husband a warm breakfast. Serve it with orange juice to make it extra special.
· Mend the holes and tears in your husband’s clothes for him.
· Let him open doors for you. Thank him for it.
· Fold, hang and put away the laundry when it is clean, rather than letting it become a huge wrinkly pile.
· Make him one of his favorite meals for dinner – have it ready for him when he arrives home.
· Put toothpaste on his toothbrush for him while he’s getting ready in the morning.
· Pray for your husband. Thank Heavenly Father for him.
· Clean! Doing dishes, floor mopping, bathroom cleaning, dusting, removing white spots from the mirror, vacuuming, taking out trash, etc. are all great acts of service.
· Decorate the house during the holidays.
· Ask your husband for Priesthood blessings if he is worthy to give them.
· Have a welcoming atmosphere for him when he comes home – tidy, music he enjoys playing in the background, nice-smelling candles burning, and a warm hug and a long kiss for him.
· Don’t be a nag.
“Physical touch is also a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love. Holding hands, kissing, embracing, and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating emotional love to one’s spouse.” (The Five Love Languages, pg.115-116)
· Spoon and cuddle – every day you are physically together! This is Tucson, so turn up the AC or undress a bit if necessary, to make this happen.
· Rub your husband’s shoulders and neck to help him relax before going to bed.
· As a rule, make your kisses 3-10 seconds long over just giving pecks.
· Play with and hold your husband’s hand on walks, in the car, and at church.
· Incorporate soft, gentle touches whenever you are with your man. (i.e. Hand on his shoulder, brushing arms or legs, touching his hand, touching his face, pat on the bum, etc.) As constant touch as possible in subtle, tender ways does a lot to keep a couple close and soft toward each other.
· Enjoy a long full body hug with your spouse every day.
· Every now and again, kiss your husband when he leaves for work, as though it is the last time you will ever see him again.
· Be the initiator in the bedroom – surprise him with lingerie hidden under the bed sheets, or under your clothes, whisper things to him secretly to get him excited, make a fun, romantic atmosphere.
· Shower together.
· Be sexually willing and responsive to your husband’s advances as often as you can be. If your husband’s love language is physical touch, then he will feel loved by your filling his needs in this area. Remember, it is important to husbands not only to enjoy love-making with you, but to know that they can be a source of sexual satisfaction for you as well. Get in the game - and have fun!
· Verbalize what touching you enjoy most from your husband, and ask him how he most enjoys being touched – this includes both non-sexual and sexually-intimate touching. Try to incorporate what you know he enjoys into your physical interactions with him.
One last idea that I thought was awesome, came from a woman who chatted with me after the activity was over. She and her husband have been married for many years, she is a grandmother. She told me that she keeps a top secret journal where she writes down the things her husband mentions in both serious discussions and in passing that he wished she would or wouldn't do. She keeps those, and makes efforts to improve herself - all without him knowing. Our spouses are so close to us, that they often have very valuable insight into both our strengths and our weaknesses. I see this as a great idea to improve our marriages and selves by capitalizing on the loving constructive criticism we sometimes recieve from the ones who know us best - our lovers!
I hope this was helpful to someone out there in the world! I really enjoyed coming up with these ideas. I was glad I had the chance to speak at the activity - it gave me more drive to be a better woman and wife for my man! Have a great weekend, everyone! :)