Does it sound like anything is missing from the phrase “to love and to cherish?” If you ask me, it’s the word… respect. To Love, Respect, and to Cherish is a much more balanced picture of what should be shared between a husband and wife.
I, (name), take you (name), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
The Bible clearly tells men to love their wives. Why? Because it is not natural for men to love. It is natural for men to respect. Men can show their wives respect all day long, every day; but, selfless love is not hard-wired into most men.
In the same way, respect does not come easily from women. In our culture, we have grown up with the idea that all respect has to be earned. Just as the Bible tells men to love their wives unconditionally it tells wives to respect their husbands unconditionally. It doesn’t say to respect your husband if he loves you well, provides well, or leads his family well. It says to respect him.
It doesn’t tell women to love their husbands, because love comes naturally to us ladies. Even when we are angry with our husbands we still have the ability to show love by serving him (cooking, cleaning, etc.). Respect… is a different story. Not only do we struggle to show respect in those angry or hurt times, but we feel justified in slinging disrespect like mud. After all, our culture allows (and sometimes even encourages) for disrespectful women, but unloving men are chewed up and spit out all over Facebook.
Is this really what God intended for marriage?
Cherishing your spouse will go hand in hand with loving and respecting them. When you think of the word Cherish, what comes to mind? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “cherish” in the following ways: to hold dear, feel or show affection for, to keep or cultivate with care and affection, to entertain or harbor in the mind deeply and resolutely.
There are a few items in my home that I cherish. These are the things I would grab when running out of a fire. They are few and they all have extreme sentimental value. These are things I strongly value – and because I value them, I keep them in a safe place, I keep them clean, and I show them more care than other things I own.
Cherishing someone you love is similar, but much deeper. Those people I cherish, I want to protect and give my ultimate care. When you cherish someone you put them first and you give them the best you have to offer. The ones you cherish are the ones you receive joy when serving.
When I think of something I cherish, my wedding ring is the first thing that comes to mind. After Eric proposed and put the diamond on my hand, I spent a lot of time gazing at it. The next morning I heard something fall on the floor and I immediately looked at my ring finger and breathed a sigh of relief to see the diamond still shimmering. Not only do I cherish my ring because Eric gave it to me, but also because the diamond in my ring was his mother’s diamond. Even though I was never able to meet her, I have a piece of her with me every day and that is something I deeply cherish.
The way I am called to cherish Eric is much like the way I cherish my wedding ring. I am to care for him in a special way that I don’t care for everyone else. My attention, my attitude, my very best should go to God first, then to him, and the rest of the world should get what’s left.
On the day we got married, this was very easy. Cherishing him was second nature to me. Then, life happened. We found out we were very different people and that aspects of our personalities got on each other’s nerves. This is when cherishing each other became more difficult and a choice. And, it is still a choice. I can hurl disrespectful comments to him and treat him like something to stomp on or I can choose to cherish him as I vowed to do on our wedding day.
Even though the word cherish conjures up images of joy and bliss, it does become a choice once you are married. Just as you will choose to love and respect your spouse, you will have to choose to cherish him or her even when it’s difficult. Are you ready to make this vow?
How confident are you in your ability to love, respect and cherish your future spouse? In what ways have you already cherished him or her?