The Checklist is the next best thing to a crystal ball. It provides 7 criterion that you can use to determine the viability of a life-long relationship. To the degree that the person you are dating doesn't meet one or more criterion on The Checklist
you have handicapped yourself and accepted a relationship that has a high chance of failure. On the other hand, if you find someone who meets all 7 criterion on The Checklist the author guarantees a lifetime of happiness with that individual - if you can manage to marry them.
The 7 criterion were developed by the author over a four year period after his ex-wife left him with several children to raise on his own. For those that are familiar with US singer/song writer Kenny Rogers' famous line "You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille", this was just such a moment . The pain of divorce was magnified by the difficulty of being a single parent several times over. But out of the crucible of the author's experiences came The Checklist, a gift for anyone who truly wants to find Mister or Miss Right.
Nigel Hughes uses stories from his life that flesh out the origin and rationale of each criterion. You will find yourself deeply touched by the stories and completely convinced by his compelling logic.
This is an easy must read for anyone wanting a permanent relationship. And it's the essential field guide for that friend, son, daughter, parent or sibling that is looking for someone with whom to share the rest of their life.
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The ChecklistThe Perfect Tool for Choosing the PERFECT Mate
By Nigel Hughes
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Nigel Hughes
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24 KJV
I was someone who was always attracted to the damsel in distress. I fancied myself as a knight in shining armor always willing to sacrifice life and limb to rescue the fair (and frequently, fallen) princess. I believed the Cinderella fairy tale. Most people do. It's a lie.
As I analyzed the demise of my first marriage and began dating again, I recognized that I kept getting attracted to women that had many of the same characteristics of my ex-wife. On one occasion, as I spend an evening with some friends who knew my ex-wife, they quietly confided in me that the woman I was dating reminded them of her. In fact, they pointed out specific similarities that had completely escaped me. And the similarities weren't at all physical. It was this particular revelation that prompted me to start The Checklist.
One thing jumped out at me - screamed at me. All of the damsels in distress that I was attracted to hated one or both of their parents. I began to analyze the psychology behind that.
When I met my ex-wife she was in her teens and did not like her home situation. She had been adopted and her mother had told her at a young age that she wished that they had never adopted her. She had become very close to her father. The mother was jealous and stepped between them in the relationship. She grew to hate her mother and wanted to be on her own. When I met her she latched onto me. She was attractive, in distress, and I mistook her desperation for love.
One of the books I read after my divorce was Scott Peck's The Road Less Travelled. In that book he nailed my ex-wife to a "t". It was while reading his chapter on Passive Dependency that I began to peel back the onion. The verse I quoted at the beginning of this chapter from Genesis is what led me to my first criteria. That, in combination with the 5th Commandment: "Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land the Lord thy God giveth thee" (Exodus 20:12 KJV) became the two kernels that I use to flesh out what I consider to be the most important criteria of the seven.
Criterion 1: Look for someone who was raised with love and loves/honors both their mother AND their father. This is the foundation of self-esteem.
One Comes From Two
How do two people become one flesh? They have a child.
That child is half its father and half its mother. If that child loves both parents it loves itself. It has high self-esteem; and high self-esteem can weather the roughest of life's seas. If that child hates its father but loves its mother, it hates half of itself and loves the other half. To the degree that it hates half of itself, that child will sabotage any success it aspires to because it cannot allow its hated half to succeed. It has low self-esteem - a form of self hatred.
Self Inflicted Suffering
I was in a parking lot outside of a grocery store back in 1992 and I saw a For Sale sign on this practically new Mercedes 350 SL. It said, For Sale - $100.00, and gave a phone number. I took down the number and called it later in the afternoon. It had already been sold. I asked why the price was so low. He said that he was in the middle of a divorce settlement and the judge had told him he had to sell his car and give half the proceeds to his ex-wife. The car was probably worth $50,000. He had settled for $50 instead of $25,000 because he couldn't stand the thought of his ex-wife (whom he obviously hated) benefitting to the tune of $25,000 from the judge's ruling. While he may have hurt his ex-wife, he also hurt himself.
I witnessed the same thing happen to a military officer who got out of the service after 16 years (failing to qualify for a 20-year retirement) because he couldn't bear the thought of his ex-wife getting half of his retirement. He was willing to settle for no retirement rather than share a retirement because of the animosity he felt towards the mother of his child.
How much more hostile do you think a child (who hates a parent) will be towards anything that that parent could take positive credit for in the case of their child's success? If the hated parent wants them to go to college, what do you think they will do? They will sabotage any goal they set because they can't stand the thought of sharing any success with the hated parent.
This is the same rationale a teenager who hates his or her father uses when he or she takes drugs or alcohol. A hatred for a parent leads to a hatred of self, hence the 5th Commandment. If you honor your father and mother, you honor yourself and you avoid the self destructive and self-sabotaging behaviors that would ensure your failure.
One Can Only Give What They Are Given
The other aspect of this criterion is that a child that is raised with love, in turn, is capable of replicating that love as an adult. We can only give what we have been given. Our ability to demonstrate love is contingent on the love that has been demonstrated towards us.
A child that has not been raised in a stable and loving environment cannot create one out of whole cloth. And watching love depicted in movie theaters is only frustrating for them because the movie ends after an hour and a half but the relationship they are trying to develop doesn't materialize that fast.
Love is demonstrated by service that requires sacrifice. Love is felt when one is served. A parent bonds with a child when they serve them. They make their child meals. They take them to parks. They fix their favorite foods. They watch their ball games. A child feels loved when their parent invests time in them. They learn what a parent is supposed to do. When a child has a nurturing role model, that child, in turn, becomes a nurturer. Nurturing is a virtue that must be felt before it can be developed.
Nurturing Doesn't Negate the Need to Love Both Parents
Being raised in a nurturing environment does not necessarily negate the need to love both your parents.
When my mother was 5 years old her parents divorced. She was doted on by all of her relatives and felt very loved, but her father was an alcoholic and seldom kept his visitation commitments. He was a chef and she asked him to cater her wedding reception. He agreed, but showed up late and drunk. Right there at her reception she told him he would never see her children - and he never did. I never even saw a picture of my grandfather. My mother never spoke of him.
It was after I was born that my mother became a foodaholic. Eventually, she became obese. Over the years this self-destructive behavior turned her into a 5'9" 390 lb woman. She became an expert on diets but never had the self-discipline to stick with one.
When I was 25 I obtained a copy of my grandfather's death certificate. He had died when I was 12. My mother mentioned it three years after the fact.
My mother happened to be visiting me a year or so after I had received the Death Certificate. I had her father's Death Certificate lying out on our coffee table. She decided to pick it up and read it. A few seconds after she started reading it she looked shocked - like she had been stunned by new information.
She said: "This Death Certificate shows that my father was 5 years younger than my mother - and that they got married when he was 18 years old!" She had never known this. She had always assumed that he had been older than her mother. At this point, one of my brothers was 18 and my mother thought of him getting married to someone 5 years older and as strong willed and domineering as my grandmother. She suddenly realized that her father never had a chance. Stuck between a domineering wife and a sister that was just as strong willed, my grandfather found alcohol to be his companion of choice.
For the rest of the visit my mother wasn't quite herself. Sometimes I would catch her looking out the window and crying. I witnessed a catharsis. By the end of three days she had let go of her hatred and replaced it with compassion and understanding.
Subsequent to that visit, she went on her last and final diet. She ended up losing over 220 lbs. My parents celebrated by flying to Hawaii for a vacation. They spent the following Christmas with me and I got to see them dance at a New Years Eve dance. They were like a couple of teen-agers. I had never seen them dance together.
Hatred Is a Barrier to Happiness
I'm convinced that it was the hatred she felt for her father that refused to allow her the self-discipline she needed to succeed at any diet. When that hatred was removed, the self-sabotaging behavior was able to be checked and she was able to allow herself to succeed at her goal.
Shortly after I developed my checklist I shared it with a close female friend. She immediately recognized the merit of the logic for Criterion 1, but she was devastated. She said, "I would never qualify because I can't meet the first criterion. I hate my mother!"
I'm sure that many of you reading this book will have the same reaction. The answer is not to throw the book down and stop reading. If this logic has struck a chord with you; if you can look back on your history and see self-sabotaging behaviors that constantly thwart any opportunity to achieve any goal, then keep reading. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I had a close friend that experienced a Near Death Experience. She was a very angry and bitter person early on in her life. She had been physically and sexually abused throughout her youth and adolescence by her father. Frustrated with her life, friendless because of the chip she constantly carried around on her shoulder, and weary from the burden of hate, she found herself mindlessly combining alcohol with a sleeping pill. She inadvertently slowed her nervous system down to all stop and she found herself looking down at her body lying on the couch. She was escorted through a tunnel to a light. She says she had never felt so loved as she did during this experience. She was asked if she wanted to stay or go back. She wanted to stay. She was then shown her father's life and the things that happened to him that conditioned him to act towards her as he had. She found herself feeling sorry for him.
She was told that she could stop the cycle or allow it to continue. After seeing his life she knew she had to return and stop the cycle. She did return and many years later, shared this story with me. When I knew her she was in a happy marriage and the mother of five. She was one of the kindest and most compassionate people I ever knew. I would never have guessed that she had had such a miserable childhood.
There are many people that hate one or both of their parents. The luxury of this hatred comes with a pretty steep price.
Find a way to love both of your parents so you can love ALL of yourself. If you can, the one who will benefit from this act of forgiveness the most will be you and the ones you love.
A Heart and a Mason Jar Full of Water
My father's mother was as close to an angel on earth as anyone I have ever known. She had four children. My father was the oldest; a still born boy was next; his brother came third; and when my father was about ten my grandmother had a daughter. She was known to the family as Sister. She was adored by both parents and siblings. My father and his brother saved up their newspaper route money to buy her a piano for her 8th birthday. She was a wonderful aunt and just as angelic as her mother.
One afternoon I was listening to the radio and heard that she, her husband and three of their children had been shot. She and her husband and one child died. The intruder was a 14 year-old boy on PCP. This young boy was locked up in a Juvenile Detention Center. The only letters he got were from my grandmother. She initiated the correspondence in the Christian spirit of "Love thine enemies ... do good to them that hate you, etc." When he turned 18 he was released. He married one of the female detainees as soon as he was released. He had no place to go, so he asked my grandmother if she would put him and his new wife up until they could get on their feet. She agreed.
I visited my grandmother after she had been providing free room and board to this couple for almost three months. They had abused her hospitality by bringing in a puppy that constantly soiled her floors and rugs, by sleeping in until noon and by watching her TV until 4 AM. He had just landed a job at a convenience store when I arrived and was not real thrilled at being forced to change his sleep cycle. He had never expressed remorse for the murder of the members of her family and he wasn't particularly appreciative of her efforts to help him and his wife get on their feet after four years in Juvenile Detention.
I sat down to breakfast with my grandmother one morning and confronted her. How in the world could she continue to open her home and her life to this kind of abuse? How can she show compassion to a man who murdered her only daughter, her sonin-law and her most promising grandson and has never expressed one word of remorse for having done it? How can she house and feed this couple who lethargically investigate employment opportunities, bring in a puppy without asking her permission to do so, eat her food without offering to do the dishes and haven't said the two words "thank you" in the entire three months they have been under her most hospitable roof?
What proceeded was the most unforgettable object lesson I have ever had - and probably ever will have. She took from her cupboard a small Mason jar and placed it in the middle of a large metal bowl. She proceeded to fill it with water until it was 3/4 full. She took some cooking oil and filled the rest of the Mason jar with the cooking oil.
She then looked at me and said, "This jar represents your heart. The water is the love you have in your heart. The cooking oil represents the bitterness, hatred and anger that can rest in the top of your heart - holding the love down, not letting it surface." Then she started pouring more water in the Mason jar and liquid began to spill over into the metal bowl.
Of course, the liquid that was spilling was the cooking oil. As she poured the water, she said, "Every morning I get on my knees and I ask God to take any anger and bitterness out of my heart and fill it with love." At this point she stops pouring and I look at the jar. All the oil has been driven out of the jar and all that remained was a Mason jar full of water.
She then looked at me with moistened eyes and said, "And He does."
Hatred Is Poison
However you choose to purge the poison of bitterness, anger and hatred that you have in your heart for your parent or parents, you need to do it. Do it through therapy. Do it by researching their lives and trying to understand why they did what they did. Do it by confronting them and expressing a true desire for reconciliation. Do it like my mother did, even if they have passed away. Do it through your faith. It really doesn't matter how you do it - just do it.
Anything you want to become or do depends on it. If you want to feel the exhilaration of accomplishment and true success, "Honor they father and thy mother."
Chapter Two"With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well, too!" -Yiddish Proverb
The ability to exercise delayed gratification is a huge indicator of self-esteem. People with low self-esteem can't seem to save a dime. In fact, they are almost always in debt. Because people with low self-esteem don't feel good about their inside self, they are always trying to build their self-esteem from the outside. They have to have the things they can't afford because "things" are what define their self worth. A nice car, nice clothes, a nice home, a club membership - these are all worldly trappings that tell people around you that you are a "success".
I have known women that couldn't afford to feed their children or put gas in their car, but they can afford to get their nails done once a month and spend a couple of hours a week in a tanning booth. I have known men who have parsed out a pittance to their wives for groceries but always seem to have enough money for alcohol and hunting rifles. Heck, my ex-wife would spend an hour in the shower and an hour in front of the mirror before she was ready to venture into the public eye. This is just crippling to a marriage.
Excerpted from The Checklist by Nigel Hughes Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Hughes. Excerpted by permission.
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