It’s not enough to love; Christian couples should seek to cherish each other.
After all, that’s what most of us promised in our vows: “I promise to love and to cherish until death do us part.”
We always talk about love; why do we fail to explore what it means to cherish each other?
In my new book on the topic, Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage, I explore how we can take marriage to the next level by learning how to truly cherish each other.
What does it mean to cherish your spouse? There are many aspects to learning how to cherish each other (thus the book), but let me use this post to explain just one. George Balanchine, a famous Russian-born choreographer, once said, “The ballet is woman.” During pas de deux (couple’s dancing), male dancers recognize that their role is all about showcasing the female dancer’s beauty. People come to the ballet to see the woman’s beauty, strength, and grace. The male dancer is there primarily to help her shine. In the words of Sarah Jessica Parker (who put together a documentary on the New York City Ballet), “When a male dancer is paired with a ballerina he can support, stabilize, lift and turn her, allowing the partner to perform feats she could never do alone.”
Isn’t this a marvelous description of marriage? Together, we can be more than we could on our own.
What if we husbands took the attitude of male dancers, seeking to showcase our wives’ beauty? It may be the beauty of wisdom, and in social settings we do our best to see that she is heard. It may be the beauty of leadership, and we support her life so that her gifts can be performed. It may be the beauty of hospitality, and we buy the things she needs and open up our homes (when we might prefer to be left alone) so that her beauty can be on full display. A biblical husband “praises [his wife]. ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’” (Prov. 31:28-29)
If we truly cherish someone, we want to showcase them. Think of a newly engaged woman, who can’t wait to hold out her hand so that everyone can see her new ring. Her face lights up: “Look!” she says, with a passionate enthusiasm.
Cherish is about building that same kind of enthusiasm for, and attitude about, our spouse.
What if wives adopted the same mindset of wanting to showcase their husbands, helping their husbands perform feats they could never do on their own? What if a husband knew—in the deepest part of his soul—that his wife was his strongest support, his most encouraging partner? What would that do to him? What if he was willing to risk failure out in the world because he knew in his wife’s eyes he would always be her courageous champion? She supports him, she stabilizes him, she binds up his wounds—spiritual and emotional—and she turns him so his strongest side is always showing. Instead of ridiculing his social awkwardness, she finds a way to help him fit in. Everyone starts to think more of this guy when they look at him through his wife’s eyes.
One thing I like about focusing on showcasing as an aspect of cherishing is that this practice all but forces me to meditate on my wife’s beauty, identify her strengths, and then plot how I can help those strengths be showcased. How many times do we do the opposite? We obsess over our spouse’s weaknesses and then meet with others to gossip about them.
I want to sit with God and ask, “How do I showcase my wife’s beauty?”
And here’s a powerful secret side benefit of cherishing: when I help others see the particular, unique beauty of my spouse, it reinforces and even grows the place I already have for her in my heart. Cherishing my wife helps me to cherish her even more; it reinforces itself. Learning to cherish your spouse actually unleashes a new force in your marriage that makes your marriage even more precious.
Gary Thomas, GaryThomas.com
If you’d like to pre-order a copy of Cherish, Zondervan is offering some really nice deals—a free digital book (Devotions for Sacred Marriage), a free three chapter preview (that you get immediately), and an exclusive podcast in which my wife and I are interviewed about our journey toward learning how to cherish each other—and why it matters. You can read more about it here: http://www.garythomas.com/cherish/