A few years ago I attended the funeral of a family member. One of the speakers during the service mentioned that he had recently gone to a restaurant where the salt shaker had been overfilled and it was very difficult to get any salt to come out. He then paid the deceased a compliment and said that unlike the salt shaker she was never too full of herself to give to those around her.

I have often thought about his comment over the years—especially when I get too wrapped up in my own busy life and trivial problems to pay attention to the needs of the people around me. Perhaps it’s a natural human tendency to focus so much on our own needs and concerns that we fail to notice that we have the ability to ease the sorrow of the person next to us with just a kind word. That may be why relationships can be so tricky.

In the countless relationship interviews I have conducted for The Eight-Cow Relationship I found that couples don’t thrive when one of the partners is self-absorbed. Getting your eight cows isn’t part of a self-improvement course designed just to make you more acceptable to yourself. We don’t want you to become like the overfilled salt shaker. Each of the cows is also part of becoming a better partner, friend, and lover. The eight cows are all about taking some of the focus off of the person in the mirror and more on to the person holding your hand.

Tracy Lyn Cutler