In his most recent book book Cherish by Gary Thomas. Thomas challenges your view of marriage and the type of marriage most couples settle for. Thomas has several other books which have been helpful for me as well such as Sacred Marriage.
If you are married, you probably shared a vow that said you would love and cherish your spouse. We often talk about what it looks like to love your spouse, but what does it mean to cherish your spouse? In his new book, Thomas unpacks the word cherish and helps the reader learn what it means to hold your spouse dear and to cherish them. He talks about what it means to turn marriage from an obligation to a delight and to go out of your way to honor and appreciate your spouse.
Cherish helped me realize some small ways I can better cherish my wife. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:
To cherish something is to hold it dear. That means you think about it, and when you do, you feel great pleasure. You have great affection for it.The good news is that cherishing your spouse is something you can learn to do. It’s not just a feeling that comes and goes; there are spiritual and relational practices that generate feelings of cherishing your spouse as you act on them so you do hold them dear in your heart. Learning to cherish actually creates joy, fulfillment, happiness, and satisfaction. It’s one of those spiritual realities that may not make logical sense, but when you take it by faith and put it into practice, it works. It just does.
Learning to cherish means learning to be content playing second violin. This is at its root a very biblical thing to do. Jesus alluded to this when he said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20: 28). If we want to be like Jesus, we have to look for opportunities to play second violin. And though Jesus isn’t explicitly addressing marriage in the above passage, marriage is certainly an ideal place to cultivate this attitude.
Dr. Gottman’s work demonstrates that if we want to cherish our spouses, we must learn to take an active interest in what interests them. That’s what it means to honor and notice. We can practice listening and then responding, aiming to get our “turn- toward bids” up to at least 90 percent. This is helpful for me, as it teaches me that whenever my wife expresses an opinion, reads something interesting from the local paper, or makes an observation, I am either cherishing her or neglecting her. There is no middle ground here. Her bid is either met or rejected. Cherishing is expressed, or it’s not. Intimacy is built, or it is assaulted, even in the most mundane marital conversations.
What I love about the call to cherish each other is that it’s an active decision to ask ourselves on a regular basis, “What do I need to do to protect my spouse?” Asking this question pushes us toward acts of cherishing.