November 4, 2016


Gary Thomas — 


“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.


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12 responses to Cherish

  1. Thank you, Gary. My husband and I are currently reading Sacred Marriage with a small group at our church and it has been confirming, convicting and challenging in the best ways. I pray your new book will be equally so. I’m looking forward to it. And can I say, that while you certainly don’t let any of us men or women “off the hook” in regards to our responsibility in relationship, I’ve felt especially blessed that you write from a point of starting with the men. As the leaders in our household, it seems you create a call to action for the men in our group. We women are equally convicted and challenged, but it spurs us on when our men step in with leadership. I’m sure your wife is blessed by that as well. Thank you!

  2. Kerry Mortensen November 4, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    I can honestly say that until I fully surrendered to God and threw myself into Relationship with Christ, I was unable (Incapable actually) to fully cherish my Bride. She, being an extension of Jesus’ example of Love, became more of the target for the same devotion I have for my Lord and My Savior. I Cherish My Lord, I Cherish My Bride.. The same way He Cherishes His Bride, of whom I belong. What Joy there is in this, every waking morning of Every Day… Can’t wait to get my copy!

  3. Gary,

    “Cherish”…my wife of over 40 years used this word with tears and brokenness to state
    what was missing from and what she most hoped to recover in our relationship. I was wounded deeply by this confession not only because was true, but because I was so blind and
    indifferent to the pain this was causing her and I was so guilty of letting this happen. I will read your book with the hope that we may be able to recover what has been lost. Thank you

    • One woman (quoted in the book) told her husband: “I don’t care how much money you make. I don’t care how big our house is or what kind of car we drive. I just want to be cherished.” Wives are aching for this, and your wife, though wounded, is blessed that you’re finally understanding it.

  4. This sounds like a lovely book, and I hope it reaches a wide audience.

    I feel like it couldn’t apply to me, though. Is it possible to cherish a spouse whose selfishness, lies and broken promises have all but destroyed your life? Whose addictions have forced you to raise your children in poverty? I feel like it would be a betrayal of myself to cherish the person who has been my destruction. Am I wrong?

    • There’s a chapter entitled, “This is How Your Spouse Stumbles” that directly addresses how we can cherish our spouse in the midst of their imperfections. You can’t cherish bad behavior, but you can cherish people. Put it this way: God cherishes us, even in our sin. And if God can cherish me, how can I not learn to cherish others, given that the gap between God’s excellence and mind is infinite, and the gap between me and any human is nearly invisible by comparison.

      Cherish is, in fact, partly a strategy to lay the groundwork to help our spouses improve and grow. When they feel cherished, they tend to be more responsive and involved in the relationship.

      Of course there are limits. I’m not sure cherishing a pathologically narcissistic person is the antidote they need. But you know what? Contempt doesn’t work either. If someone reaches a point where they just can’t cherish their spouse at all, for anything, the marriage, frankly, is usually over (spiritually, if not legally).

      • Thank you Gary for prefacing this with the statement about cherishing a pathologically narcissistic person…this personality type likely didn’t cherish their spouse to begin with making it questionable that a true christian marriage even existed in the first place….And I also really appreciate your article “If he won’t change to get you, he wont change to keep you.” These are so helpful to Christian Counseling!

  5. Looking forward to reading! As a single, I still read all your books (marriage and others) to prepare myself as much as I can now for a future marriage. 🙂

  6. Woo hoo finally a new book!!!!! Can’t wait!

    • I so appreciate your enthusiasm, Andrea. I’m excited too. This one feels like it’s been a long time coming and I’m glad we’re finally able to get it out there.