This blog is not written for women in abusive marriages. The advice offered in these posts will challenge both husbands and wives, but the advice could be counter-productive if it is applied in an abusive relationship.
While writing Cherish, a good friend of mine who does a lot of counseling warned me that many spouses—up to 30%, in fact—actively resist being cherished by their spouse. They sabotage their own happiness because they don’t see themselves as “cherishable” and thus resist any efforts their spouse might make to cherish them.
If you struggle with this, you’ll find plenty of help in Cherish (thanks to my friend), especially as it relates to the spiritual side of letting yourself be cherished.
But since many of you have already read the book, I want to share a related testimony from a woman who found that letting herself be cherished by her husband was one of the most difficult things she had ever done—but also one of the most beneficial, spiritually speaking. She blogs under “The Baby Mama” moniker (https://thefragranceofmarriage.wordpress.com/). These are her words:
Letting Yourself be Cherished
It is very, very hard for me to accept anything from my husband. Whenever he wants to give me anything, or do something for me, I am suspicious, fearful and the walls go up. I often wonder why anyone would want to give me anything or do anything for me; I feel so unworthy, undeserving. To be honest, I feel embarrassed whenever someone wants to cherish me in any way.
There are a myriad of reasons as to why I feel this way and it has taken me almost 44 years to understand some of these reasons. I am still busy peeling back the layers, but I am starting to see, to understand. Besides having parents who loved me (I have no doubt about that), but were relationally dysfunctional, I was also shy, fearful and didn’t like any attention on me. I preferred to hide away. It’s not that I didn’t want the attention, or to be cherished – I did. I just didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t know how to respond. It was much easier to hide away and just pretend it didn’t matter.
The problem is that when you start nurturing a mindset of not being worthy, you believe it and you become it. It has taken some time to break down the walls that I have been hiding behind my entire life. Slowly but surely God is showing me that He does love me. Not just in a “I’ve saved you for Heaven” kind of way, but in a “I know who you truly are and I really do love you” way.
Just before I started reading Cherish, I started to realize that God loves people through people. He needs hands and feet in this world to go out there and love. And the easiest way for God to love me is through my husband. I know this is dangerous thinking because my husband is not God and he is fallible and can so easily make mistakes, but I have begun to realize that if me loving my husband can show him a touch of God’s love, then surely my husband loving and cherishing me is God showing His love to me through my husband?
I have been deeply hurt by my family and my background, and my husband’s constant presence in my life has brought such comfort to me. No matter what anxiety I am facing, or what hurts I am dealing with, he is always there. He is the constant presence that brings comfort to me all the time. I can accept that and feel grateful (and even humbled) that God would send me a man whose presence brings me such comfort.
More importantly, though, is realizing that I am worthy to be loved and cherished. Not from anything I have done, but for who I am in Christ. Because Jesus loved me enough to die for me, I can accept love from my husband – I have no idea if that makes sense. But, I can learn to accept God’s little blessings in my life – because very often they come through the hands and feet of my husband. I can let myself be loved and cherished because I am a person of worth and value.
I am turning 44 this year and I have been a Christian since the age of 13 and this is the first time I am learning what the gospel message is truly about. God loves me. All of me – and He cherishes me and blesses me in ways I cannot yet see or understand. In fact, He doesn’t just bless me – He wants to bless me; He desires to bless me. It is a struggle for me, because I have always thought to struggle is more spiritual, to battle in life more pious. I am learning, however, to allow myself to be loved and cherished by my husband (and people in general) – because of God’s love for me.
If this resembles your story, I ache for the pain you’ve gone through, and I urge you to allow your spouse to cherish you as an act of healing and a gift from God. In Cherish I tell the story of Megan who, through her husband’s cherishing care, also found herself opening up to God’s care.
It’s so powerful to think that we can cherish our spouse in such a way that they can begin to receive (some of them for the very first time) the cherishing touch and affirmation of God. You can’t give anyone a better gift.
Cherishing our spouse isn’t just about having a happier marriage; it’s so much bigger than that. It’s about modeling the love of God to the love of our life.