The other day I was involved in some filming where we asked people on the streets to name some of the traditional wedding vows. Many mentioned “for better, for worse”, “for richer, for poorer”, “in sickness and in health” and of course “til death us do part”, but there was one that people tended to forget.
What was it? “To love and to cherish”.
“Cherish” – it is a funny, rather old-fashioned word isn’t it? You’re unlikely to hear it mentioned much outside a wedding service. But it is a key ingredient in a healthy marriage and one we would do well not to forget. So, how do we make sure that we are living out our vow to “cherish” our partner? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Be intentional. To cherish isn’t a passive action – it’s an active one. It’s about nurturing, loving, protecting, caring for and treasuring our partner.
Years ago a couple I know who work in marriage ministry gave my husband and me a little card each. Mine said, “How can I show God’s love to my husband today?” And yes, my husband’s said the same except “to my wife”. We still have those cards. Mine is on my dressing table mirror and David’s is by his toothbrush. They are good questions and ones that are at the heart of cherishing each other. What could you do today?
2. Be kind. I don’t think you can be unkind and cherish someone at the same time. It can be challenging to be kind when we feel upset, hurt, disappointed or angry with our spouse but if we are determined to cherish them, then we need to try.
Being kind doesn’t mean ignoring what is wrong or pretending bad stuff hasn’t happened. It does mean putting down our desire to hurt back, get revenge, score points, sulk, attack, criticise or nag. It means choosing our moment to say what we need to say without lashing out or saying words that we’ll regret. And it means forgiving and asking for forgiveness when we need to.
One way we can practise this is by being kind about and to our spouse in public, especially in front of children if you have them. How could you show your husband or wife support, encouragement or kindness in public or private today?
3. Choose to love. There’ll be days where we might not ‘feel’ in love with our partner. That is normal. But every day we can choose to love them. We can choose to move towards our wife or husband rather than away from them in the way we act, respond or behave. We can choose to meet their needs and love them even if they aren’t reciprocating.