Your Marriage: From Disappointing to Delightful

Wood stoves do not render their comforting warmth without regular tending. Fires must be coaxed along with frequent ministrations, and I never give this much thought — unless my good husband is away, for he miraculously tends to this important detail, and our house stays cozy and warm.  Similarly, since the beginning of our marriage, he has changed the oil in our vehicles, paid our bills, balanced the checkbook, and locked the doors every night, leaving me with the delightful sense of being safe, cared for:  cherished.

Gary Thomas writes that this variety of practical love is reassuring to me because it demonstrates that our life together is a priority that is worthy of my good husband’s time and effort.  Now, with his one-word title, Cherish,  he challenges readers to go beyond merely loving our spouses and to live our way into a “marriage that feels more precious, more connected, and more satisfying.”

Many marriage vows include a promise to “cherish,” but do we understand what that looks like from the perspective of our spouse, the cherished one?  Gary unpacks the concept in terms of learned behaviors that can change everything in a marriage:

Cherishing means learning to hold someone dear.

The Message to the Cherished:  “You don’t have to be anyone other than who you are.”

When we allow our spouse to define “beauty” (or “handsome-ness”) in our minds, we have begun to rewind history to Eden when each was the “only one” in the world to the other.  Choosing anew every day the one you chose on your wedding day is the antidote to disappointment, discontentment, and critical comparing.

 Cherishing means learning to showcase your spouse.

The Message to the Cherished:  “How can I support you today?  How can I make your day better?”

For the believer, this includes enhancing one another’s ministry opportunities. We want our beloved to shine!  It is based upon the assumption that we have ended the love affair with ourselves.  Gary uses the vivid example of a male ballet dancer rejoicing in the standing ovation a ballerina receives because he has “supported, tossed, caught, turned, and showcased” her.  It’s all about helping your spouse to realize his/her potential in the world.

Cherishing means noticing and honoring each other.

The Message to the Cherished:  “I will put your needs above everything else.”

Here’s the truth in a nutshell:  “You can honor someone without cherishing them, but you can’t cherish someone without honoring them.”  Wives will feel noticed if their words are taken seriously; husbands are looking for physical affection.  For either gender, we honor our spouses when we take an active interest in what interests them.

Cherishing is about protecting each other and killing contempt.

The Message to the Cherished:  “When I scan you, I will be looking for something to praise – not to criticize.”

Gary traces the tragic journey from newlywed infatuation through disappointment, frustration, and bitterness to contempt, which is the single biggest threat to a marriage’s survival and happiness.  Practicing fierce gratitude is the antidote to contempt.

Cherishing teaches us to indulge our spouses and, thus, to help heal their spiritual wounds.

The Message to the Cherished:  “I am committed to your healing and wholeness.”

When we nurture our spouse, we provide a picture of God’s cherishing heart.  We make our spouse’s needs a priority and work to discover what actions we can take to help them address their weaknesses and to breathe life into them every day.

Cherishing teaches us to carefully and deliberately use our ears and our words to express our affection.

The Message to the Cherished:  “I will be deliberate and specific in verbal affirmation and mirror God’s acceptance and affirmation in my words and in my tone.”

This may not come naturally, but developing (and maintaining) a curiosity toward our spouse’s words and activities communicates value.  Deitrich Bonhoeffer sums this up beautifully:

“Just as love to God began with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.”

Even unintentional verbal slights can be devastating to a marriage.

Cherishing is about treating our spouse as a unique individual.

The Message to the Cherished:  “I will help you complete your one-of-a-kind story.”

It’s time to cast aside generalizations and stereotypical assumptions about what “all men” or “all women” do.  Understanding bypasses judgment and empathizes while genuinely investing the effort to understand and to accept.

Cherishing means being patient with your spouse’s sins.

The Message to the Cherished:  “We both stumble in many ways.  I will thank God for you, and, together, we will grow in holiness.”

Gary offers six words that can save the day:  “This is how your spouse stumbles.”  Accepting that your spouse will never be perfect makes allowance for imperfection without diminishing our appreciation.  Apart from this, it is impossible to maintain “a cherishing attitude.”  Furthermore, it is counterproductive to think, “I could cherish them if only they wouldn’t do x, y, or z.”  “Half of holiness centers around being patient with other peoples’ sins.”

As he did in Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas has melded practical theology and behavioral principles to encourage believers along in a life that goes beyond the mere fulfillment of marriage vows.  Just as my wood stove responds to regular tending by yielding comfort and warmth to my home, a cherishing mindset that is deeply rooted in the Gospel truth that we are continually cherished by God will result in a marriage that radiates a lifetime of warmth and love.


This book was provided by Zondervan through the BookLookBloggers program in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Gary Thomas has written a blog post that applies the principles set forth in Cherish.  Click here to read and learn more!

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56 thoughts on “Your Marriage: From Disappointing to Delightful”

  1. Thank you so much for this book review. I find the concept of cherish quite tender and would love to read this to be able to share some of this author’s marriage thoughts with groups I speak to. Have a blessed day, Michele.


  2. Thanks, Michele, for this review of another great book! Actually I always enjoy your introductory personal paragraphs as much as your review of the book. Good insights, my friend, I know you’re the real thing! God bless you!


  3. Great Review! He and his wife were on Focus on the Family discussing the book a couple of weeks ago and it was very enlightening. You highlighted some of tge main piints very well.


  4. Michele, I always find a sentence in your posts that make me think. Today it is: “It is based upon the assumption that we have ended the love affair with ourselves.” It’s been hard to break up with me!

    This book sounds like a keeper!


    1. I felt the same way in reading the book. It’s become sort of a throw away word (helped along by tradition and old love songs from the sixties?). There is so much depth to the concept, particularly viewed in light of biblical love.


  5. Good points…. sure sounds different from the “protect your own interests” “think of yourself” messages that are so prevalent in our culture. I think “true love” is one of commitment… for the long haul… not till we tire of each other or find someone “better”. We need to work on our marriages every day and build them… treasure them.


  6. The review reminds me again of great Gary Thomas is in this field of helping couples grow in their marriages. My husband and I have heard him speak several times and he truly is one of the best on any area related to marriage. I didn’t know about this new book. Thanks!!


  7. I’ve enjoyed a number of books by Gary Thomas, and this certainly sounds like a great one. From what you’ve shared, it sounds like I’d feel convicted when reading it–something we all need on occasion!


  8. Hmmm, I like that word “cherished.” Now, if I could only demonstrate it. I will give it a try. Thank you for letting us know about this great book.


  9. Michele,
    Such great truth here. I read each section and nodded – uh ha…I need to work on that, and on that, and on that too. I love the word “cherish” – this goes beyond love. I like the idea of “showcasing” your spouse and making their strengths come into view. If every day we tried to out love each other on each of these points, what great marriages we would have.
    Bev xx


  10. I love the idea of showcasing your spouse. I received advice early in marriage to speak positively of my husband to my friends and family. Sure there are times when I need encouragement or advice, but my job is to speak positively of him. I cannot tell you how far reaching this choice has been for me. It has set the “mood” for our relationship and I am so grateful for the person who gave me that counsel.


    1. That’s such a good principle, because your husband knows that he can trust you. I’ve sat through so many gatherings, watching wives literally shred their husbands for all the world to hear, and can’t imagine how hard it must be to rebuild trust afterward. That is definitely good counsel.


  11. Hi Michele,

    I love the way you equate cherishing your spouse to tending a fire.

    When you mentioned this: “Similarly, since the beginning of our marriage, he has changed the oil in our vehicles, paid our bills, balanced the checkbook, and locked the doors every night, leaving me with the delightful sense of being safe, cared for, cherished” I was reminded of how my Dad did this for my mom and his household. He always made sure we were safe, protected and cared for. Never saw this as being cherished until reading this post.

    Thanks for the great reminders of how I can cherish my future spouse. May God continue to richly bless your union.


    1. So glad that our little home routine spoke blessing to you, Yvonne. If you are already pondering the idea of cherishing a spouse, your future husband is blessed indeed!


  12. This book has gotten rave reviews from everyone. To cherish is to put love in to action.
    Sounds like you and I are blessed to have spouses that cherish us; I know I may not often feel it but when I see his interactions with me and how he treats me and our family, I know it. It goes without saying that cherish breeds cherish.
    Stopping by from #FaithandFriends


  13. I’ve loved all of Gary’s books in the past and have been hearing him interviewed about this one. I’ve wondered if I should get it to review as well. So glad to see you showcase it here, Michele! It looks like another winner.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Glad to connect with you via Faith ‘n Friends Link Party. Thank you for sharing this rich review of Gary Thomas’ book. Applying these guidelines will certainly make a huge difference in our mmarriages. It all comes down to loving our spouse as Christ loved the church.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sorry for some reason, my comment went in under Rita’s name as I was trying to edit and add to it. She’s a friend and I visit her site on Blogger regularly. I’m pretty sure she hasn’t seen your article.

    Glad to connect with you via Faith ‘n Friends Link Party. Thank you for sharing this rich review of Gary Thomas’ book. Applying these guidelines will certainly make a huge difference in our marriages. It all comes down to loving our spouse as Christ loved the church. The part about being patient is so important because we often err and hurt each other. Thanks for sharing again.


  16. So many good subjects. This is my favorite, “When I scan you, I will be looking for something to praise – not to criticize.” This is so important if any marriage is to thrive! Thanks for reviewing. Easter blessings!


  17. This is so good. It’s so easy to take each other for granted, and CHERISH is the opposite of that, isn’t it? My husband also takes care of many practical details like you mention. I forget that’s a way of cherishing me. 🙂 I so often take it for granted, but those acts of practical services are gifts to me. 🙂


  18. Interesting, in today’s society so many expect too much of those they love, the idea of ‘cherish’ sounds wonderful for the whole family, thanks for sharing 🙂 practical mondays


  19. A lifetime of warmth and love – what a beautiful ending, Michele. I’ve been anticipating your thoughts on “Cherish” and loved every one. “Choosing anew every day the one you chose” and expressing our love by listening to our loves are some of my favorites. Thank you! ((Hugs))

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I read culture care article…liked the reflections you shared there. I was about to leave a comment when i noticed this title and Gary Thomas….It distracted me …And it’s a good thing 😋
    Every of these words are beautiful. I couldn’t choose a favourite quote.
    Thanks for this refreshing message.
    How are you bracing up for Easter friend.?
    Happy Easter in advance 🏃🏃🏃


    1. Glad to be able to provide plenty of distraction for you, Ifeoma! 🙂
      We are traveling for Easter this year, so it will be different, but wonderful to see dear friends and to have time away with our family. Blessings to you as you celebrate!


  21. Wow! That is really good stuff! I particularly like this line: “Half of holiness centers around being patient with other peoples’ sins.” Thanks for linking up at Booknificent Thursday on!


  22. Wow! Such great marriage advice. It’s definitely a daily dying to self. 😉 Thank you for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays.


  23. Cherishing means learning to showcase your spouse…. such a good statement. Michele – again so sorry, it has taken me almost a whole week to stop by and comment from #TuneInThursday linkup last week. I was away at a Conference since last week and the wifi was practically non-existent. I hope to see you tomorrow at #TuneInThursday


    1. I hope you will just relax about the timing on your reading and commenting. Your hospitality is a huge gift, and I’m always blessed by your input. Glad that you got to enjoy a conference!


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