Chris Legg Christian Blog and Commentary

The 8-Cow Wife Story

  • Chris Legg
    Crosswalk blogspot for Chris Legg, licensed minister and professional counselor and Campus Pastor for FBC Tyler
  • 2012 Jul 23
  • Comments

Once I heard a story preached that I think makes some great points about our roles as men in our families, and especially our marriages. Honestly, I am dubious as to its veracity, accuracy, or at least its specifics, but whether based on history or not, it preaches well even as a parable.

Here it is:

The Tale of the Eight-Cow Wife

Once there was a missionary whose ministry was to a small community of tribes in Africa. One of the more quirky traditions of the tribe was the process for choosing a spouse.

When a father deemed that his daughter was old enough to be married, he announced it. Over the next few days and weeks, the eligible bachelors communicated their desire to marry her by tying cows to the father’s fence.

In the end, the one who had paid the most cows got the girl (and the dad got the cows).

Obviously, the more of the traits of a good wife (culturally) that a woman demonstrated, the more cows she would bring. If she were kind, submissive, smart, beautiful, etc., then she might bring 4 or 5 cows (6 was the record). Others might get 2 or 3 cows.

The missionary was mentoring a number of young Christian men preparing them to be ministers for their own people. One, in particular, he was friends with. This young man had committing himself to finding the greatest wife ever. He insisted that he would keep looking until he found an “8-cow wife.”

Despite the protests of the parents and the missionary, the young man was intent … and unmarried.

Eventually, the missionary was called back home for a furlough break. While home, he received a telegram from the village. “_________ married, eight-cow wife”.

The missionary was intrigued and couldn’t wait to get back to the village to find out more.

When he finally did, he went straight to the young man’s house and was welcomed in by the gentlest, most deferential, beautiful young lady he had ever seen. As the men sat to talk, she served them kindly and was clearly very smart. She brightened the room in every way.

Stunned, the old missionary proclaimed, “You did it. I must admit that you have found an eight-cow wife indeed!  Where did you find her?”

The young man replied, “Oh, that is _________ from the next village.”

The missionary was surprised. “I knew her, certainly she was a kind and pretty girl, but, no offense, I would not have thought of her as an eight-cow wife, and certainly I would never have recognized this wife as her!”

The young man smiled and said “After you left I searched and searched and was despairing of ever finding my eight cow wife when I believe God intervened. I believe He revealed to me this truth: there was one way to get an eight-cow wife. I chose a woman and paid eight cows for her.”


We can imagine the effect on the village, the scandal of the thing! We can also imagine what it did to the young lady of character when a man chose her so certainly and with such finality, and in doing so making her the only eight-cow wife in the history of the community!

Men, generally speaking, I believe that we have the wife of our choosing. Some of them are more hurt and timid and more comfortable at hiding than others, but the effect of a MAN who chooses her and pursues her and proclaims her has a huge effect on her. Much of this is true of wives in regards to husbands as well – maybe most of it, but I was talking to the men.

I am not saying that women are passive members of a marriage … much less powerless ones … but I have just seen too many times when men are missing their opportunity to communicate such a Godly message to their wives … so, husbands…

What have you done recently to communicate to your wife that you see her as a treasure of great value?

I would love to hear about it, and so would everyone else! Ladies, feel free to post something that communicates how your husband might communicate it … we need wisdom and good ideas. … After all, we are all in this together.