I used to give blood quite regularly. I didn’t find it painful, people were grateful, and I really liked the punch and cookies afterwards. I have the blood type A-positive. It says that right on my blood donor card. Yet I still had to have my finger pricked every time, which I found to be the most distressing part of giving blood. I cannot give blood anymore because of a heart issue. Strange that I would miss that simple opportunity to give, but I do.

I have a friend—I don’t know her blood type but she definitely has the personality type A-positive. She is able to put an optimistic spin on almost anything. I, however, tend to be a cynical critic. Consequently, whenever I am with her she will kindly offer an opposing view to my perspective. To save myself time, I now find myself exploring positive alternatives to my initial feelings before opening my mouth. This exercise has changed me.

Mother Theresa stated, “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

As I have traveled down the path of studying relationships, I have started to see the wisdom of this statement. I see results that are more positive from trying to determine why relationships succeed than why they fail. When I ask a couple to explain where their relationship is thriving and then where they feel they could be even more successful, they appear hopeful that everything is going to be fine. Conversely, when I have them focus on the failures in their relationship all I can sense is doom.

I have no doubt that the study of failure and how to deal with it is a noble pursuit and a much-needed perspective but I am trying not to pursue that angle any more. It is hard nonetheless to refrain from observing that a relationship is failing because someone lacks a critical cow or has allowed a Mad Cow into the herd. So, whenever I am tempted to focus on failure rather than success, I think of my friend with the A-positive personality and I adjust my thinking.

The Eight-Cow Relationship concentrates on the eight traits necessary for a successful, happy, modern relationship. Our emphasis is on success. It is much more enjoyable and in my opinion, more effective. Also, by encouraging people to be positive and focus on the cows they can have and share, it is like I am being a donor again—however, now I don’t donate blood, instead I offer life-giving hope.

Kurt Dowdle