My husband, Devin, and I attended a marriage conference earlier this year with our church and left with an assignment: to read the book Cherish by Gary Thomas.
Since we are both readers, we were not only excited to read a book together (something we’ve done sporadically since our dating days) but even more excited because the book was written by Gary Thomas. Although Thomas has been my favorite marriage author for four years now (ever since I read his book The Sacred Search the autumn before I met my husband!), Devin had not yet read any of his books.
A talented nonfiction author whose books about marriage are grounded in Scripture, Thomas may have written his best book to date in Cherish. Together Devin and I would like to tell you why we think that is!
“In our marriage vows, we promise to love and cherish each other, so why do we talk so much about love and so little about cherish?”
(Gary Thomas, Cherish, page 25)
His Perspective on Cherish
Devin: Cherish, I would say, is that pursuit, that feeling you get when you see your spouse walking in a room and you’re excited to see them, that feeling you get when you see them smile and want to make sure they always have something to smile about.
But how to cherish your wife? Thomas lays out the crucial truth that you can’t just cherish her in the way you think you should. You need to learn her preferences, her culture for how she wants to be cherished. What makes her feel valued and appreciated?
“A key principle to honoring your spouse is understanding that the person being honored gets to determine how they want to be honored.”
(Gary Thomas, Cherish, page 61)
The best way to discover this is to ask her, and the best part about the book is that each chapter includes excellent, interactive questions that allow you to dive deeper. You both leave “on the same page” about key takeaways, like choosing contentment and gratefulness, being affectionate and patient, and working to be constantly curious about one another.
Her Perspective on Cherish
Gary Thomas presents a solid argument for the importance of understanding the difference between love and cherish (stick with me; he uses this verb as a noun). Love is the commitment in a marriage; but cherish is the spark, the romance, the in-love feeling.
“A godly marriage breathes life into each partner.”
(Gary Thomas, Cherish, page 109)
If you cherish someone but don’t yet love them, you have an infatuation. If you love someone but don’t cherish them, you have a partnership. Both love and cherish are required for a successful marriage.
I too especially enjoyed the questions included at the end of each chapter that, as Devin mentioned above, prompted conversation around how we wanted to apply what we learned, such as how to make each other’s life dreams come true and address points of conflict.
Speaking of conflict, my favorite chapter was titled, “This is How Your Spouse Stumbles.” Written from a Christian perspective to Christian couples, this chapter delves into sanctification and the fact that we’re all married to sinners who stumble, sin, and make mistakes on a daily basis. Since none of us are perfect, learning to give grace like Christ can mean the difference between a ruined date night and a forgiven conflict that brings spouses closer together. (Note: The author deals well with the tension of unrepentant sin.)
“When we correct our spouses, we need to find a way to still cherish them in the midst of the correction. We may have to ask them how best to do this… One of the best ways to verbally cherish our spouses is to speak the gospel to them, regularly reminding them of God’s acceptance and affirmation.”
(Gary Thomas, Cherish, page 135)
Gary Thomas gives the example of his wife losing his keys. She didn’t mean to, and although it inconvenienced him, he had the choice of becoming frustrated with her because of it causing him to be late to work … or giving her grace.
“The goal of a cherishing marriage is to know the dark corners and the weak links of each other’s personalities, yet still cherish, respect, adore, and move toward each other… Responding with gentleness to common marital moments–like a spouse misplacing your keys–can be the seedbed of a cherishing marriage.”
(Gary Thomas, Cherish, page 164-5)
A gifted writer who uses funny, relatable anecdotes, Gary Thomas has crafted an easily readable book that is perfect for reading together with your spouse in the evenings.
Or listen to it on audiobook during your next long road trip together! And remember:
“The God who cherishes the imperfect you is more than capable of helping you cherish an imperfect spouse.”
(Gary Thomas, Cherish, page 223)
Photography: JenniMarie Photography