Johnny Lingo is the main character in a nineteenth-century tale set in the South Sea islands. It was written by Patricia McGerr in 1965 and first published in Women's Day Magazine; reprinted in the February 1988 Reader's Digest and later adapted for two different motion pictures.
Is there a way to stop or even slow down the continual drifting apart of modern-day Johnny and Mahana? And what is the secret, if there is one, to a long life of bliss where a man and woman raise a happy family and then grow old together under the same thatched roof? Its not discovering a secret as much as it may be just paying attention to important principles that too many of us overlook.
On the island of Kiniwata, cows were symbols of wealth. These conceptualized cows are symbols as well--representing something of far greater value in any relationship than mere financial status. These 8 cows represent the character traits and values Johnny and Mahana each must have if they are to sustain a modern relationship.
Too many relationships are short of character. They are devoid of trust, respect, honesty, fidelity, and a litany of other virtues. They are sometimes built only on physical attraction and common interests. But that has NEVER been enough. Life and relationships are much more enjoyable when you have the requisite character traits.
In the spirit of Johnny Lingo and the traditions of Kiniwata: Mahana, you need to be an eight-cow woman; and, Johnny, you need to bring eight cows of your own to the table.
"Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong; it is character."
Before Johnny could have his eight-cow woman, he had to be an eight-cow man.
Johnny took the time and effort to acquire the eight cows of his own.
Mahana through her goodness, humility, hard work, and despite the fact many people couldn't see it, was worth every one of them.
What are our standards?
These conceptualized modern cows will represent character traits.
What eight cows would you like to see in your relationship partner?
The ideal in any relationship is to create symbiosis.
Bring all eight of these characteristics to the relationship right up front.
The eight critical characteristic traits necessary for a sustainable relationship are:
1. Trusted Friendship
2. Passion for Life
3. Wisdom and Witt
4. Financial Responsibility
6. Extraordinary and Unique
7. Romantic and Intimate
8. Considerate and Kind
Having each of these characteristics could help lead to a happier, more successful life--not necessarily an easy life, but a life that could overcome challenges and make long-term meaningful relationships an achievable goal.
"Character--the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life--is the source from which self respect springs." -Joan Didion
"Character is who you are and what you do when you think no one is watching." -Anonymous
The Trusted Friend
"Soul mates are people who bring out the best in you. They are not perfect but are always perfect for
Friendships include: Joking Around, Plenty of Fun, talking about the future and what each person wants out of life; then helping each other achieve their personal goals.
Friendship is a contract of the heart.
Friendship should be something worth fighting and dying for. A friendship should mean everything.
Friendship is a mutual meeting of hearts and minds--an unspoken bond of love, honesty, and trust. Friends entrust each other with their very souls.
Friendship is the foundation for a successful relationship to last. It is what will ultimately hold the relationship together.
A trusted friend is a true confidant, a best friend, someone we share our lives with--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Such friends are nonjudgemental of each other. They are a valued part of each other's lives.
Friendship will see a couple through the good times and the bad times. The loyalty they have to each other can soften any disagreement. The understanding between true friend overcomes all obstacles.
There is a difference between liking and loving. When you love someone without liking them, the night can be long and cold, and contempt comes up with the sun.
"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
True friendship can only flourish in an atmosphere of trust.
When two people both have this character trait of trusted friendship, they can then trust each other's motives and commitment to go the distance and not abandon the family/relationship. There will be a sense of security.
Certainly, trust and love are both important, but love can only linger for so long when trust no longer exists. Friends expect each other to be forthcoming with all relevant information.
Trusted friends take each other into their most extreme confidence.
Trust goes way beyond just being honest or telling the truth...
Friends trust that when they are down, their friend will lift them up. They trust that their friend will watch their back and stick up for them in public. They trust that their friend will also tactfully tell them when they have done something wrong or even if their hair is out of style. They trust that their friend will believe in them when everybody else casts doubts. The trust that their friend will be there to lend a hand when it is really needed and even when it isn't. Friends trust each other to share the good times and the bad.
Conversations to build and determine friendship:
How important to you is a trusted friendship in our relationship?
Do you consider me a trusted friend?
Do you ever find it difficult to tell me the truth? When?
If I have violated your trust, what can I do to rebuild that trust?
Have you ever violated my trust? Do you trust me enough to share that incident with me?
Do you think it is possible to truly trust another person?
"Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important." -Carl Reiner
"Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships." -Stephen R. Covey
Passion For Life
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire." -Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch
Passion for life is the drive to live beyond one's self--to lose one's self in something bigger than ego.
You either live your life with meaningful passion or that energy will be diverted elsewhere.
The villain to a life of passion is someone who knows right from wrong, has great prospects to do good, yet is unwilling to become passionate about his opportunities.
Most people like to point to the activities of the villain and label them as "the problem". But laziness, endless internet surfing, excessive television, drugs, and addictions of all kinds are more symptoms than problems. They are the indicators of a life that has a dearth of spirit, of purpose, or commitment--the fire in such a person's life has been misdirected or numbed.
Passion is food to our soul. We must have it to live. Passion fuels and drives our efforts.
Passion for life is essential to existence because life is wholesome, worthwhile, and involves building people and creating goodness in the world. The opposite is death. It breeds destruction, selfishness, contempt, and world full of hate. The Bible teaches there are only two choices--life or death. Which will you feed your passion to?
A physiological explanation for our need for passion:
"People want to experience joy. Joy emanates from the natural hormones of dopamine and serotonin from the midbrain organ called the amygdala. As we enjoy our family, our relationships, our work, and our recreation our brains produce these important chemicals that bring joy. In fact the greatest stimulant of these natural chemicals comes through selfless service. Jesus proclaimed, he 'who loses himself will find himself.' As we lose ourselves in good work, the passion that inspired the action works within us and literally our brain changes. Nitrous oxide is released causing the 'good feeling' that attends good deeds. This is a short-lived molecule that if sustained through persistent virtuous living, will elevate the important neurotransmitters of serotonin and dopamine.
People who become depressed have low levels of these two chemicals and often will 'self medicate'. They employ a surrogate method of increasing these substances--succumbing to addictions. The use of alcohol, cocaine, tobacco, methamphetamines, and even pornography will raise the levels of these brain chemicals in an unnatural manner. Those who use these substances, will 'feel passionate' for as long as the surrogate is in their system. But the stimulation will ultimately subside then collapse, and the addict will seek them again." -Dr. Ty Erickson
Passion separates man from the rest of earth's creatures. We seek to find and express a meaning in life.
What do you really want? If you don't know what you want, you won't know which passion to feed.
Is everything you are currently doing in your life an aim to fulfill the expectations of others... your parents, your religion, society, and your family? Consider the future consequences that could incur should your lack of passion for your great life persist.
Be sure to look ahead to see if what you want today will lead you to what you will want tomorrow. Dig deep and look at the whole picture. Look at the present and the future. Connect with your Maker. Think about the real purpose of your life. Think about your talents, your gifts. Then decide WHAT YOU WANT. Find out what that is and pursue it with all the passion of your soul.
Passion for your life is showing true gratitude to the One who gave it to you.
Conversations to stimulate passion:
What do you like to do most when nobody knows what you are doing? Is that your passion?
If you could change the world, what would you change?
If you could earn a living at anything you wanted, what would you do?
Do you ever find yourself feeding the wrong passions of life?
Outside of our physical relationship, what passions do we share?
"Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion." -Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Wisdom and Wit
A sense of humor speaks more of being capable of seeing the lighter side of the daily grind and laugh at the curves life can throw at us.
Having this "sense" means you will see the lighter side of a flat tire and the seriousness of a friend's sorrow. It's a balance between wit and wisdom.
An appropriate sense of humor will also never make a person an object of ridicule.
A good sense of humor will keep life in perspective. Someone who is truly wise and witty recognizes that laughter is a gift from God--given to us to lighten our load, not to make light of the journey.
Conversations about determining a sense of wisdom and wit:
Do I take myself too seriously?
Do I inappropriately laugh at the misfortune of others?
Am I able to bring calm to difficult situations with my sense of humor?
Am I ever too silly?
Do I have a sense of perspective that allows me to be wise?
"A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable." -Billy Graham
It isn't money or the lack of money that seems to be the problem in relationships, rather how the money is managed is the real issue: who makes the money and how; how the money is spent and on what; how much is saved; how debt is managed; and how much debt is acceptable?
In a relationship, the most important element that must be added to financial responsibility is communication.
Consider the law of the harvest: preparing the soil, planting the seeds, watering and cultivating, being patient, protecting, harvesting, and then storing.
Preparing the soil= get educated, get smart, go to school, get trained, learn.
Planting the seeds= go to work, launch your career, start your business.
Watering and cultivating= work hard, work smart, excel and advance, grow your business or career, get smarter.
Being patient= be patient.
Protecting= get insurance, take care of your health, take care of your assets.
Harvesting= get paid, collect your salary, realize a profit.
Storing= save money, create equity, invest, avoid debt.
For a couple to become one , they must come to a consensus on financial issues before they can really feel united in all things. They need to open the lines of communication on financial goals and procedures. The longer they wait to broach this topic, the harder it will be to come to a consensus on how they will handle money matters.
Couples need to communicate with one another their priorities. When couples fail to prioritize, important matters can sometimes get neglected until a crisis occurs.
Without the necessities of life, the other characteristics can dwindle in importance. It can be difficult to achieve your life's dreams without adequate funding.
Conversations on financial responsibility:
Do you feel I am financially responsible?
Describe in detail the house, car, and lifestyle you expect to achieve in life.
Do you consider yourself to be frugal or a spendthrift?
Under what circumstances do you think debt is acceptable?
Is there anything I do that sabotages our financial success?
Do you consider yourself a hard worker?
"Money is neither my god nor my devil. It is a form of energy that tends to make us more of who we already are, whether it's greedy or loving." -Dan Millman
Defined- Regular church attendance. Adherence to specific religious codes of conduct and belief. Service to fellow men. Gratitude... etc.
Too often people measure their spirituality by checking off compliance to a list of rules and commandments.
"We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make.
Those who believe there is one God who made all things and who governs the world by His Providence will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who hold in reverence that Being who gave them life and worship Him through adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who believe that mankind are all of a family and that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who believe in a future state in which all that is wrong here will be made right will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who subscribe to the morals of Jesus will make many choices different from those who do not.
Since the foundation of all happiness is thinking rightly, and since correct action is dependent on correct opinion, we cannot be too careful in choosing the value system we allow to govern our thoughts and actions.
And to know that God governs in the affairs of men, that he hears and answers prayers, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, is indeed, a powerful regulator of human conduct."
Even though spirituality may be an individual matter it becomes a greater part of life when it is shared in a relationship.
Conversations on Spirituality:
Do you believe in God?
How do you feel when you think of Him?
Does your belief play an active role in your life and decisions?
Do you plan on teaching your children your beliefs?
Do you think having similar beliefs is important in a close relationship?
Extraordinary and Unique
"You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear." -Author Unknown
A representation of one thing that makes you special, and especially interesting to another person who is attracted to your distinctive quality or qualities.
What makes ME extraordinary or unique? What would I want it to be?
Develop and nurture the talents and abilities that make me stand out. Work to be the best ME possible.
A specific person will most likely single out only one thing they find to be especially attractive about you. Your talent or ability or gift is what causes that person to take a second look.
A person may very well be drawn to your unique and extraordinary gift because their goals in life may be similar to yours. Your unique talents and virtues will help them to feel that the both of you could be happy together pursuing the same ambitions and dreams. Your responsibility is to keep these talents and virtues healthy and thriving. Do not fail to tend and nourish the abilities or characteristics that created the mutual attraction in the first place. When such things are allowed to die or stray from the forefront, it may be perceived that these attributes were not real and was merely used as a lure to encourage the relationship.
When you neglect or fail to nurture the intriguing facets of your personality, it could take some of the wow out of a marriage or relationship, leading to feelings of resentment and regret. Couples should work together to keep their dreams alive.
Develop the best talents and attributes that you can.
Even though your talents and abilities; your gifts and virtues may be highly appreciated and loved, it does not necessarily have to be the same for both parties to enjoy the exhilaration of this characteristic. A continued interest in your partner's gifts will assure that their talent will have a place to grow and flourish.
Compatible and harmonizing talents/gifts are important.
Conversations on extraordinary uniqueness:
What do you think your gift is?
What do you think my gift is?
Am I taking proper care of my gifts?
Do I have more than one gift?
Do you think I sufficiently appreciate and support your gifts and talents?
"Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming... WOW! What a ride!" -Author Unknown
"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be."
"Our whole life is an attempt to discover when our spontaneity is whimsical, sentimental irresponsibility and when it is a valid expression of our deepest desires and values."
-Helen Merrell Lynd
Romance and Intimacy
"Romantic love reaches out in little ways, showing attention and admiration. Romantic love remembers what pleases... what excites... and what surprises... Its actions whisper: You are the most special person in my life." -Charles Stanley
Even though all the other characteristics discussed here are important, this is the one that makes him yours and you his--exclusively.
It isn't just about gathering these characteristics into one person--filling a grocery list of desired attributes. It is also about sweeping someone off their feet--making them feel special--making them feel truly loved and cherished. This is the characteristic that ultimately must be accepted before the relationship can really take off.
Romance and intimacy are not synonymous. But they do go hand in hand, with romance leading the way.
Romance= the emotional aspects of togetherness; anything that stirs the heart to feelings of affection and longing; spontaneous acts of kindness, being sensitive to each other's needs, generosity, making time for each other
Intimacy= the physical closeness of a couple; a wonderful celebration of all the tender moments preceding it
Don't try to skip romance and go straight to intimacy, doing so misses the whole point of a relationship.
True intimacy between a man and a woman begins in the heart--and romantic behavior is the manifestation of those feelings.
Romance shouldn't be missed or neglected.
"Libido or sexual desire is a large component in the complex experience of intimate relationships. The response, however, is very different between men and women. Men tend to be more hormone-driven and interested in getting straight to intimacy. Women, on the other hand, seem to have the need for what I call the seven T's for romance:
Women, like men, require testosterone to initiate a drive toward intimacy. Women however have a significantly smaller amount of this hormone, making romance, or the six other T's, much more important to them on both an emotional and a physical level. Failure to recognize these differences can create frustration where there should be fulfillment." -Dr. Mark Dowdle
Romance is the key. Romance is the fuel for the fire of intimacy. When romance wanes, intimacy can become just another obligation--a task to cross off our to do list. When romance is ignored, couples are much more easily lured by the siren song of infidelity, which almost always snuffs out whatever flame might have remained in their intimate relationship.
Don't underestimate the importance of romance in a relationship, especially after marriage. Romance keeps your love alive and will help keep the feelings and desire for intimacy as special as before.
Author's list of some of her favorite acts of romance:
My own pet name, meant for me and no one else.
A foot rub without expecting one back.
A love note in grease pencil on my mirror.
Finding my favorite candy under my pillow.
Our own date, just you and me, a table set for only two.
Seeing you stand on the porch waving good-bye until my taillights have faded.
Sitting next to me in church, holding my hand, with our children on either side of us.
A midnight kiss on New Year's Eve and every night after that.
Live for each other. Live exclusively for each other--becoming one.
Conversations on romance and intimacy:
Do you consider me to be romantic?
What do you find romantic?
How do you feel about "wandering eyes" in a relationship?
What do the words tenderness and sensitivity mean to you?
Do you think we make enough quality time for real intimacy?
"What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labour, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories?" -George Eliot
"True love does not come by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly." -Jason Jordan
Considerate and Kind
"Your greatness is measured by your kindness; your education and intellect by your modesty; your ignorance by your suspicions and prejudices, and your real caliber is measured by the consideration you have for others." -Olin Miller
Daily thoughtfulness, kindness, and consideration between a couple make the roads smooth, the choppy seas calm, and the difficult times seem less difficult.
Being considerate is all about putting the needs and wants of others in a position of significant priority. The opportunity to show daily acts of selfless consideration can bring the greatest long-term joy.
The Platinum Rule: Treat others as they would WANT to be treated.
Your responsibility then is to determine what the other person really wants. No longer can you passively do unto others according to how you see it. You really need to connect with that person and be considerate of THEIR innermost thoughts and desires in order to most effectively "do unto" them.
Considerate= An act of Love; gives comfort and solace, unselfishness, listens and responds and communicates appropriately, humble, forgiving, gives thoughtful gifts, empathizes, even-tempered, seeks self-improvement
The more we love someone the easier it is to know what they want and need.
Conversations about being considerate:
What is the most considerate act you feel I ever did for you?
Is there anything I do you find to be inconsiderate?
Which of the above characteristics of being considerate am I lacking?
Do I do anything that irritates you? How would you like me to change?
If I could do anything for you right now, what would it be?
"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost." -Arthur Ashe
"Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end." -Scott Adams
Avoid Addictions. They and their consequences are painful and often catastrophic. Relationships and sometimes even live hang in the balance of the persistent spread of addiction and irresponsible behavior. If you have an addiction; drugs, alcohol, infidelity, pornography, gambling--get help--starve it, shoot it, get rid it any way you can.
The gift of one's best self is the noblest gift one can offer another person.
The fear and sometimes even casual acceptance of inevitable failure are robbing modern-day Johnnys and Mahanas of the will to pursue anything beyond steady dating. Many people, particularly those still reeling from the pain of a failed marriage, doubt that another person can be trusted to bring these character traits to a long-term relationship. But if we could make this principle of individual character an easy topic to discuss and then do something about, it might allow potential partners to believe that a lasting relationship is actually possible.
If you truly want to find an eight-cow partner, having eight cows of your own to bring to the relationship will make that possible. Having all your own cows in readiness will give you the confidence to pursue a serious relationship with an attitude of hope and optimism rather than one of fear and pessimism.
Possessing individual character has been championed as one of the most worthwhile pursuits of men and women. Many philosophies teach that such a pursuit is important because your character may be the only thing you can take with you into the next life, as well as our relationships.
How to actually go about getting these character traits: a strong desire, serious honesty; observing the lives of great men and women--the things they have done and the behavior they have demonstrated. Know what you need to do to become a person of good character. It's a matter of the spiritual man overcoming or dominating the natural man and his tendencies.
Some people describe the process of obtaining character as an arduous task requiring great thought and introspection. But its not that complicated. To gain character, it may be as simple as engaging in the regular exercise of choosing conscience over will. Follow your conscience and build the muscles of your character.
I took more notes than I thought I would on this one! I LOVED this book!