February 27, 2017

Do You Find it Difficult to Let Your Spouse Cherish You?

Gary Thomas — 

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 unworthyundeserving.  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.

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.

When you subscribe to Gary’s blog, you will receive blog posts directly to your e-mail inbox. You will be one of the first to learn about the latest in Gary’s writing.

11 responses to Do You Find it Difficult to Let Your Spouse Cherish You?

  1. This was my wife for a long time. We are going on 20 years of being married. I always loved to compliment her and even our family and friends complimented her all the time because she is super sweet and beautiful. (I’m a lucky guy!) However, she would never take the compliments and my sweetness towards her. I always wondered why until I finally sat down with her and she described her situation just like this woman! She has finally realized to accept being cherished after so many years.

  2. Gary, one of the major things that my wife and I have made progress on during our marriage is working on our own self-love. We both have felt insignificant and unworthy at some point in our relationship and have each taken time during our conversations to talk about not only what we like in eachother, but also what we like in ourselves.

  3. I’ve found that the biggest help for me as far BEING cherished by the Lord has been worship. But still, even with the music and community, it’s an odd discipline. Who would have thought letting someone love you, even God, could be so hard? Heaven help us.

  4. Praying for friends who I think are having difficulty realizing that God might be using people to cherish them who are different than those they originally assumed would be the ones to cherish them in marriage – (differences in age, background, education (more or less), life challenges, ethnicity, ministry, etc).

  5. Thanks to all the people who shared the testimonies. There is tremendous freedom in allowing God to lead and freedom in being cherished by God’s people. Being single again, I am waiting on God’s timing for cherishing and being cherished in a marriage, God willing. I certainly hope I would use the practical guidance of God’s word and wise counsel to love and be loved in a way that emulates the level of care Christ wants. Believing that God can do it. Praying. Hoping. Praising for what God has done for many. Knowing God’s perspective on His cherishing love for people is important in accepting all He has for us for life.

  6. Omotosho Precious February 27, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Though Am Still Single But I Must Be Honest This Post Describes Me. I Hardly Accepts Been Cherrished Or Loved As I Do Feel That Struggle Is More Spiritual Jst Like She Said. Now I Know And Accept That I Am Cherrish And Love Worthy, Not For What I’ve Done Nor As A Right But For Who I Am In Christ Jesus And For God’s Awesome Love. Lord Jesus I Accept Your Love Not For My Works But For The Grace Of It. Thank You Lord For Loving Me.

  7. I too am the woman in the story only I worked for 20 years trying to allow myself to accept my spouses love. How did that work for me? About the time I got enough courage to trust in him I learned of a 25 porn addiction he brought into our marriage and an affair he was having with my “friend”. So much for allowing people in my life. Now I have two more hurts to add to the list. It has been almost 4 years now. He claims to have “changed”. I took the risk and it blew up in my face not sure I can risk it again For now I go through the motions. Maybe someday I’ll get the courage to risk my heart again. Not there yet!

    • I am so, so sorry for what you’re going through. It is a situation that needs to be faced and I am not qualified to give any counsel on what you should do. But, I can say this though: to God, you are very precious, and you are cherished my Him. Even though you can’t see that through the hands and feet of your husband, God does love you! As hard as it may be, try seeing that through the eyes of faith and focus on God, and His love for you! I don’t want this to sound cliched, but you really do have worth, you are valuable and you are loved!

  8. This post describes my wife precisely. How do I get her to lower her walls? How do I get her to receive God’s love for her through me? She would never read a post like this, sorry.

    • James, I can’t fully answer your question in a paragraph, but that’s what the book Cherish is all about–helping your spouse to receive this. Over time, you can help her to receive your love and God’s. If money is keeping you from owning a copy of Cherish, email my assistant at alli@garythomas.com. We have a few advanced reader’s copies left and would send you one for free.

    • James, for me, one small step at a time. I get completely overwhelmed when there is too much attention on me, too much focus. Something small: a squeeze of my hand, a hug, a small gesture that means something to me is sometimes all that it takes.