One of the most surprising discoveries I made when I began seeking to cherish my wife was that a person doesn’t feel cherished if they’re not needed. So many years of focusing on “love” alone made me think of sacrificing for and serving my wife. I almost felt guilty asking her to do something for me. Sacrifice and service are important acts and attitudes in marriage—love matters!—but for a spouse to feel cherished, they need to feel needed.
If your husband feels like he’s a bother at home—that he’s always getting in the way—he won’t feel cherished at home. If your wife feels like she’s an “add on” that you support, she won’t feel important to you.
My wife doesn’t want to feel kept or even “cherished,” if by “cherish” you mean treating her like a fragile porcelain doll that is put on a pedestal. She wants to feel valuable. Feeling valuable is what makes her feel cherished.
We all want to be needed, and if we feel like we’re not, we won’t feel cherished.
Another couple’s experience helped open my eyes to this truth.
Alex is an only born, and his personality is true to birth order. He’s an in-charge kind of guy who handles everything. He married Amy, who, as a last-born, was used to and liked being taken care of (I’m not saying all only-borns and last-borns are like this, just that Alex and Amy fit the stereotype for what first-borns and last-borns are typically like).
Through a long series of events, including some serious medical scares, God took Alex’s feet out from under him. He was laid out, unable to keep his business or the house going, and Amy had to step up.
Over the course of the next several months, Amy found out she liked having a lot of responsibility. When she made a business choice Alex wouldn’t have made, and it turned out she was right, she relished the expression on Alex’s face. When Alex was able to return to work, the business and the house were both better off than when he went into the hospital.
Even more profound for Amy was what this hiatus did for their marriage. Being needed made Amy feel cherished. And needing Amy made Alex cherish her more. He appreciated and respected Amy on a deeper and broader level.
No spouse wants to feel inept or “kept” in any arena of life. If you never let your husband or wife “need” you, they’ll never truly feel cherished by you. When God gave Adam a “helper” it wasn’t just because Adam was lonely, it was because Adam needed help. Marriage at its highest and best is about two people supporting and helping each other.
Some of you run yourselves ragged because you don’t want to “bother” your spouse. You don’t realize that an occasional, “Hey, I really need you to help me with this” can be a gift of affirmation. Such a request validates your spouse’s worth. It can make them feel cherished. Plus, it trains your brain to cherish your spouse in return.
So, evaluate your marriage. Is there an area where your spouse might feel like he or she is more of a liability than an asset? Have you become unbalanced where one person is made to feel inept and the other is the hero or heroine leading the charge? If so, realize that’s not a healthy marriage. That’s not a cherishing marriage. Find a way to be needed by and to need your spouse. Need is the rich soil out of which a cherishing marriage can grow.
Gary Thomas, GaryThomas.com
You can check out Gary’s book, Cherish: The One Word that Changes Everything for Your Marriage here: