Millions of couples getting married have pledged to "love and to cherish, until death do us part." Most of us understand and get the love part... but what does it mean to cherish our spouse? Why do we say it once at the wedding and then rarely even mention it again? Cherishing can have a powerful effect on marriage. Learning to truly cherish each other turns marriage from an obligation into a delight. It lifts marriage above a commitment to a precious priority. Cherishing can breathe light, hope, and new life into a marriage—even one marred by neglect and disrespect.
Examine how marriage really takes off when we get some of our highest pleasure from seeing others honor, appreciate, and admire our spouse. This is one step above even selflessness. We’re not merely serving; we’re showcasing. That changes our heart toward our spouse and makes him or her feel even more cherished. And cherished spouses tend to thrive more than those who believe they are a colossal disappointment or embarrassment to the other person.
Cherishing our spouses means honoring them in the most critical moments as well as the most mundane times of life. It means paying attention to their lives as much as we pay attention to our own. We honor our spouses by catching their bids for our attention...by outdoing them with our loving affection, our words, our protection, and our valiant attempts to chase away any feelings of worthlessness or disregard. There is no room for contempt like this in our marriages.
What if we cherished the unique and special traits in our spouse instead of focusing on the things that bother us? What if we took the time to study our spouse? What if we made a covenant with our minds and hearts to cherish our spouse above all others, never comparing our spouse with others in a negative way, and instead enthusiastically delight in the way God made our spouse to be?
To keep cherishing your spouse, it follows that you must be a good forgiver—a person who is eager to show mercy to others as you have been shown mercy by God. The goal of a cherishing marriage is to know the other person so well that you understand the dark corners and the weak links in one another's personalities—yet still cherish, respect, adore, and move toward each other.
If we want to change the way we respond to our spouse, we actually have to think about how to cherish and protect. We have to create new "grooves" by being intentional about how we interact. We have to remind ourselves to think about our spouse with delight. In other words, the more we cherish our spouse, the more we will cherish our spouse.
Youth and physical beauty do not define love, and certainly do not sustain love. Your love for your spouse will be sustained as you take steps each day to cherish him or her over a lifetime together. In time, you will find that person becomes increasingly important to you. When you cherish your spouse, you build a relationship that stands the test of time.