Wayne Williams grew up a Chicago Cubs fan because that was his father’s favorite team. As a young boy he and his dad would watch games on television, or listen to radio broadcasts in the car.
The Cubs, of course, were famous for their futility; they hadn’t made it back to a World Series since 1908, but every year father and son followed the team and made a pact: When (not if, but when) the Cubs made it back to the World Series, wherever father and son were, they would get back together listen to the games with each other.
So when the Cubbies played their way into the World Series in 2016, it was a bit of a bittersweet moment for Wayne. Sweet, because his beloved team was back in the Series. Bitter, because his dad had died very young—Wayne’s dad was just 53 years old when he passed away in 1980.
Even so, Wayne believed that a promise made is a promise that must be kept so he got in his car (Wayne lives in North Carolina) and drove all the way out to Indiana, where his father was buried. He set up a chair, and listened to the World Series games “with” his dad.
Stories like this inspire us—there is something noble in keeping a promise, especially if the promise requires sacrifice. It’s the kind of person we all want to be, isn’t it?
Just about every married person reading this blog made a promise as well—not just to love our spouse, but to cherish our spouse: “I promise to love and to cherish until death do us part.” We often talk about the love part—sacrifice, service, perseverance—but pay far too little attention to the cherish part, even though, again, it’s what we promised to do.
Cherish means delighting in each other. It involves praising each other. It’s fed by thinking about each other in the right ways. It paints love with the perfect finish so that the strength of love’s promise is finished by the beauty of cherish’s charm.
A man I know asked seven of his married buddies, “How many of your wives love you?” All seven hands went up.
“How many of your wives like you?” All seven hands went down.
These husbands all felt loved, but none of them felt cherished—and that fact alone influences the way a wife treats her husband and impacts the climate of the marriage. Merely “hanging in there” and letting your spouse know you’re in it for the long haul, isn’t enough. Perseverance and fidelity matter, but we promised more than that. We promised to cherish each other.
Men, our wives made themselves so vulnerable to us when they married us. One of the most popular quotes from Sacred Marriage isn’t even mine. It’s from Helen Rowland: “When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of all the other men of her acquaintance for the inattention of just one.” We chase, we chase, and we chase, and then, when we catch, we ignore. Every day we do that represents a broken promise.
Since I’ve become so aware of the call to cherish, few things give me as much delight as seeing spouses actively cherish each other. Perhaps because I receive so many emails and phone calls and visits from marriages in crisis I’m especially eager to be encouraged by marriages that are flourishing. Even more than this, however, is that I’ve found practicing cherishing acts, thinking cherishing thoughts, and developing a cherishing heart makes marriage a whole lot more fun. In the abstract, who doesn’t want to cherish the person you’re married to? It makes life so much more enjoyable. And what I have found and want to help you understand, is that cherishing is something you can learn to do.
Because you already promised to cherish each other…
Because cherishing your spouse brings others (including God, family, and friends) so much joy…
Because cherishing your spouse will increase your own happiness…
Why not spend some time in 2017 making it your goal to learn how to cherish your spouse and helping your spouse learn how to keep cherishing you?
You have until January 9 to pre-order Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage and get a whole bunch of stuff thrown in. The book will ship January 10th. You can find out more info here:
An early reader posted this on Facebook: “I just finished reading “Cherish” that releases January 10th. It is SOOOO good. I’ll be blogging about it closer to the release date, but you don’t want to miss this one.”
If you’ve enjoyed this blog, we would be so very grateful if you would consider pre-ordering a copy of Cherish today.