January 7, 2017

The Marriage You Want

Gary Thomas — 


If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve heard me talking a lot lately about cherishing our spouse.

What does cherish mean?

How is cherish different from love?

I recently came across a brilliant description of cherishing your spouse that was written hundreds of years ago by a surprising source. I say “surprising” because John Wesley taught about marriage better than he lived it. This quote shows he surely understood how husbands (and wives) are supposed to act, even if he found it difficult to live it out:

“The wife is to have the highest place in the husband’s heart, and he in her’s. No neighbor, no friend, no parent, no child, should be so near and dear to either as the other…They must do more, and suffer more for each other, than any other in all the world…the husband must do or leave undone, anything he can, that he may please his wife…in diet, attire, choice of company, and all things else, each must fulfill the other’s desire as absolutely as can be done, without transgressing the law of God…Helpful fidelity consists in their mutual care to abstain from and prevent whatever might grieve or hurt either.”

Does anyone not want a marriage like this? Two people so closely aligned, so dedicated to the other’s welfare, that nothing else will come in between them save the presence and will of God. I think all of us would, in an ideal world, desire a marriage like this; we just don’t think it’s possible. At least, not in the marriage we’re in.

But it is. We can learn to cherish each other.

The call to cherish lifts our marriage to a new level because it sets the bar higher. We’re not just sacrificing for each other or persevering through difficult times (important as these may be), but we’re intent on shaping our hearts and minds and habits to look at, think about, and even adore our spouses in a special way.

Love and cherish are like two interchangeable gears, pushing each other forward. Love pushes cherish forward by providing the strength, the will, and the endurance, to continue. Absent love, cherish will quickly fade, like a momentary infatuation. But love without cherish quickly slips into duty instead of delight. If we focus only on doing the right things without thinking the right things and shaping our hearts, marriage can feel like a burden instead of a blessing.

When we learn how to cherish, it’s easier to love, just as when we love, it’s easier to cherish. The two are interlocking gears that push our marriage forward in the right direction.Cherish

My new book’s official release date is Monday, January 9, but somebody has already stopped me and asked me to sign one, so stores must be getting them in already.

There’s still a few days left for you to take advantage of the pre-release special that gives you two books for the price of one as well as an audio download.  You can find that at www.garythomas.com/cherish.


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10 responses to The Marriage You Want

  1. This is one of the kinds of marriages for which I wrote Cherish–to point out the way to that kind of relationship. If money is an issue for you, email me at gary@garythomas.com and I’ll send you a free copy.

  2. Sound like a great book. When will it be available in the Netherlands?

  3. What a challenge! It can be done but its a challenge, we need to know that when we work on it with prayer, its possible.

  4. I sooooo appreciate this. I was just presented w/this question the other day by a friend who wrote out questions for me & my boyfriend (were in our 40’s)to consider. She asked what does it mean to love…. & same about cherish….& I hadn’t come up w/an answer yet…. now I’ll ACE this “test”….😉

  5. Beautifully said Gary. Although not married I believe you nailed what so many marrieds and singles desire in a relationship. Blessings to you and Lisa!

  6. Mr Thomas I have been reading most of your posts and it seems like you are more connected with the word cherish which is a good thing. Thank you for showing people what marriage needs, by the way I’m 20 and wishing to be in a healthy marriage with my future wife. Happy new year.

  7. Gary, at what point does cherish cross the line into idolatry? I’m all for cherishing one’s spouse, but how do we safe-guard against idolizing our spouse? How do we know when we’ve crossed that line?

    • Linnette,

      This is a good and fair question. I’ve learned to look at it like this: the answer will never be found by trying to love my spouse less or make her less important. The safeguard is in loving God with all my heart, so that my love for Lisa is an expression of my love for Him. As wonderful and as excellent as my spouse is, I can’t imagine, after walking with God for 48 years, ever letting someone into His place. Every marriage has its own disappointments and difficulties and these regularly cast us back into God’s arms.

      Don’t worry about loving your spouse too much; worry about loving God too little, and the love for your spouse will take care of itself. I see a lot of idolatry among infatuated couples; I don’t know that I see much at all amongst married couples (who have been married for more than a year or so). For married couples, the vast majority of us fall on the side of not cherishing our spouse enough instead of cherishing them too much, don’t you think?