“My dove, my perfect one, is the only one.” Song of Songs 6:9 Marriage becomes particularly special when this verse describes how we view our spouse.
Just this morning as I was in my study, I heard my wife gradually waking up. My heart went out to her. I hadn’t seen her yet, but just knowing she was moving and awake flooded my soul with new affection.
For the past several years, I have sought and prayed for a cherishing heart toward my wife, and God has answered that prayer. Millions of couples have pledged, on their wedding day, “To love and to cherish until death do us part,” but virtually every marriage book focuses almost exclusively on love. What does it mean to cherish? Why is it a part of the wedding vows? Does it even matter?
Aspiring after a cherishing marriage has opened up new realms for Lisa and me in our 31st year of marriage. It has drawn us closer. It has made our relationship and thus our home that much more pleasant. There’s a certain sense of delight when you truly cherish someone you live with and come home to every day. If you cherish your spouse, it’s a treat just to see them—or to hear that they are awake.
After striving to grow in cherishing my spouse, and after making sure it was something that could be both developed and practiced, I spent two years writing about it. Especially if you’re a believer, you can choose to grow and build a cherishing marriage. It’s what your spouse wants. It’s what you want.
One way to distinguish “cherish” from “love” is to consider the ballet. A ballerina has to be strong, athletic, and have endurance. The moves are physically demanding. But that’s similar to an NFL linebacker, who also must be strong, athletic and have endurance. What sets the ballerina apart is the grace, the beauty, the poetry. Love is the athletic strength of marriage—unquestionably the supporting spiritual mechanism of any union. Cherish is the grace, the poetry, and the beauty of enjoyment. It takes your marriage to another place and makes it not only beautiful to dance, but beautiful to watch.
I wrote Cherish: The One Word that Changes Everything for Your Marriage in response to a call. I believe God wants to raise the level of Christian marriages beyond merely sticking it out, sacrificing, or persevering. These are all important and wonderful things, but I believe He also wants to set in motion delighted relationships that speak of His passionate joy. The Heavenly Father who cherished Jerusalem and the Son who cherishes the church wants to teach us to cherish our spouse.
You can learn to do this. You can help your partner learn to cherish you. You can raise the level of your marriage by making cherish the new destination.
Zondervan is making it very easy for you to give this book a shot. By pre-ordering a copy now, you receive not only the hardback book when it’s available in January, but right now you’ll get a free digital download of my prior book Devotions for a Sacred Marriage. You’ll also get, immediately, a digital download of the first three chapters of Cherish. Added to that is a podcast, previously unreleased, in which Lisa and I talk about what it means to build a cherishing marriage.
Some of you have noticed that there is no place available to donate to this ministry, either on my website or blog. We don’t accept donations—we want you to support your local church. But if this marriage ministry has touched you, one of the best ways you can support what we do is to pre-order a copy of Cherish for yourself, your spouse, and another couple. Pre-orders are so important in this crowded world of publishing, and I will consider it a personal favor if you would take the time to reserve your copy (or copies) of Cherish today.
Early readers have told me that the book delivers on its promise, and I certainly pray that this is true. I want to see your marriage blessed with a new vision, a new understanding, and a new goal—a marriage that goes far beyond merely staying together, to one that pursues the blessed element called cherish.