Sometimes when people see this title, they get a little stressed.

Wow. That seems like a lot of work! Why does it have to be so difficult?

Well it’s not really that difficult but it does take some time and commitment. This isn’t the movies. Happily ever after won’t happen in 90 minutes.

If you are like most people, you will be attracted to a few people based on their Wow Cow. The task of determining who has all eight cows should be relegated to only those in whom you are seriously interested. This should save you a lot of time right off. How important is it, though, really, to make sure your future beloved has all eight cows? Just talk to those who have spent 5, 10, 15 even 25 years with someone who never got all eight cows. They will tell you it is very important and time well spent preventing what could be a lifelong heartache.

So . . . are you ready now? Here are the eight steps.

1. Know what all eight cows* are. Many people get into a relationship much like a teenager buying their first used car. It’s the right model and color. The interior looks great. The engine sounds good. But just after they pay their money they begin to notice a problem with the transmission, then the oil gauge, then the alternator. Things break that they didn’t even know came with a car. It is important to know what to look for. And when you consider everything that can go wrong in a relationship—even though the list of eight cows is very complete—it is relatively short. Know each cow and why it is important.

2. Next, it is a very good idea to have all eight cows your self. It can be very frustrating to form a relationship with someone who has eight cows when you are limping around with six. You always figure that you aren’t quite measuring up. That doesn’t mean you are going to get along any better with another person who has six cows. If you both only have six cows, combined, you are four cows short. Get your cows. Keep them fat and healthy.

3. Watch out for the Mad Cow. The curse of addiction in all its variety can prevent you from getting all your cows or drive off the ones you have. It can suck up a disproportionate amount of your attention, time, and energy. A relationship takes a greater commitment than a Mad Cow will allow. Even the most innocuous addiction in someone should be a red flag.

4. Start talking “cows” right away. I am continually shocked when I find how little some couples talked before committing to each other. Oh sure, they talked. But rehashing the movie you just saw or commenting on dinner or the weather is not really talking. Introduce your special someone to the concept of cows. Talk about their Wow Cow and how you first noticed them. Find out about their Fire Cow and their Confidant Cow. Talk about friendship and trust. Talk about your financial goals. How do they feel about the Cash Cow? And remember, when you talk in terms of cows, it is much safer and easier to talk about important matters. You are less defensive and relaxed. Talk cows.

5. Ask the right questions. Back to the car metaphor above, it would seem silly to buy a used car without asking the mileage, if it had been in an accident, or the price. Yet too often we don’t ask the hard questions about a person. Maybe we are afraid of the answer. I have a friend who was very involved with someone. She felt like he might be the one. Then one evening at a party he began to spout racist remarks. She felt like crawling in a hole. Talk about many things—then ask the right questions.

6. Get the right answers. Someone who is faking eight cows may try to give you the answers you want to hear . . . just like a good used car salesman. However, it is almost impossible for them to always be on their guard. They will eventually slip up and reveal how they really feel. Their actions may also give them away. Watch for the short-fused temper, irresponsibility with money, and the little white lie. Observe how they interact with other people. What part of their behavior makes you feel uncomfortable? Talk about it. Then get the right answers.

7. Be open with your concerns. Life is a learning process. Perhaps the person you are interested in doesn’t have all eight cows—but maybe they love you enough to get them. If you discuss your concerns freely and openly, you may be able to help someone gather the rest of their cows. It’s possible they will help you see where you need to fatten a cow or two. When you have genuine feelings for each other, you want to get all of your cows. Talking about it isn’t a threat. It’s an opportunity.

8. Repeat steps five through seven multiple times. Love at first sight may be possible, I don’t know. However, a successful relationship involves more than love. It takes eight cows. Many people in the throes of divorce are still “in love.” But they still can’t make it work because someone can’t get rid of a Mad Cow or develop a Considerate Cow, etc. etc. Repeating steps 5 through 7 many times during courtship will help assure that you can happily spend the rest of your life with the one you love.

These are the eight steps to determine eight cows. Make yourself aware of them now. They will help you to build a successful, happy relationship. It doesn’t matter if you are out looking or if you are already in a relationship. The steps work no matter where you are on the journey. And, by the way, a successful relationship is actually nothing like a car. It can get better and better each year—but only if it has all eight cows.

* To learn about the eight cows, please refer to the book An Eight-Cow Woman Deserves an Eight-Cow Man or sign up for our free mini course, Eight Tips for a Successful Relationship.