By Gary Moore
Remember back to your wedding day? Remember your vows? Many of you probably pledged “to love and cherish, till death do us part.”
Love and cherish. Most of us understand and get the love part — commitment, putting the other person first, service — but I’m guessing that most of us haven’t sat back and thought about what it means to cherish our spouse. Is that word just an add-on? Do you ever wonder why we say it once at the wedding and then rarely ever mention it again?
Author Gary Thomas suggests that exploring and understanding what it means to cherish each other will enrich, deepen, and spiritually strengthen our marriages. Cherish isn’t just a throwaway word, but an idea that helps us better understand what we are called to do and to be in marriage. He goes on to say that learning to truly cherish each other turns marriage from an obligation into a delight. It lifts marriage above a commitment to a precious priority.
The way we treat something acknowledges whether we cherish it or hold it with indifference or contempt. To truly cherish something is to go out of our way to show it off, protect it, and honor it. We want others to see and recognize and affirm the value that we see.
Think about an art collector who has a very valuable piece of art. He will try many different frames, different lighting intensities and angles, and hang it on different walls to showcase that piece of art at its best. Likewise, when we cherish a person, we will put time, thought, and effort into honoring, showcasing, and protecting them.
Sadly, the word cherish is more popularly used for things and memories than it is for people, but such common uses can help us understand what the word means. To cherish something means we want to protect it (you don’t leave a $100,000 Mercedes out in the street with the door open and the keys in it); treat it with tenderness (avoiding streets filled with potholes); nurture it (oil changes and tune-ups); and go out of our way to indulge it (frequent washes and wax jobs).
To cherish something is to hold it dear. That means you think about it, and when you do, you feel positive and warm inside. You have great affection for it.
If you cherish something, you go out of your way to show it is important to you and thus you showcase it. Guys, think about when you gave your girlfriend her engagement ring. How many times did she show it off to friends and coworkers? Or when you bought your first new car, did you ask friends to come outside to see your new “baby”?
Applied to relationships, when we cherish someone, we naturally want to protect them. It could be physical protection, but also protection of an emotional or spiritual sort, or of reputation or health. Think about when you were seriously dating your spouse. You treated that person with tenderness because they mattered so much to you. You looked for ways to nurture them and at least occasionally went out of your way to indulge them.
If we cherish someone, we will hold them dear. That means we will purposely think about them, and when we do, it will bring us great pleasure. Just the thought of them will make us smile. When we cultivate such an affection toward someone, we naturally want others to see their worth, so we find ways to showcase our spouses to others. We want others to take the same pleasure from our spouses’ excellence as we do.
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. 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.
Look at it this way: love is the nurturing aspect of marriage, while cherish is the “tasting” aspect of marriage. To love and cherish, till death do us part.
Gary Moore served as associate pastor at Cloverdale Church of God for the past 14 years. He does couples’ coaching and leads couples’ workshops and retreats called MUM’s the Word. He also does a weekly radio program called Life Point Plus on KBXL 94.1FM at 8:45 a.m. on Fridays. For information on his workshops and retreats, contact him at [email protected].