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Cherishing Your Spouse

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Your spouse is your treasure; you’ve searched high and low and found each other, so cherish your treasure.

Couples who cherish each other recognise that their spouse is priceless and of infinite worth and value. They understand that everyone is different and as a result, they treasure the unique characteristics in their spouse. Thriving couples work to keep an attitude of respect and appreciation for each other. They remember what they value about their marriage, keep reminders of good memories, and celebrate milestones together.

Worth. Value. Treasure. Love. Tenderness. These are just a few of the words that might be used to characterise the act of cherishing. However you describe it, that act is integral to family harmony and stability. This is especially true in marriage. It's important to add that this kind of worth isn't something that must be earned by your spouse. It's a gift you give unconditionally.

When you got married, your wedding vow probably included a promise to "love, honour and cherish" each other. Do you think you've been successful at living up to this vow? If not, here are a few things you can do to start strengthening the cherishing aspect of your relationship.

1. Treasuring
Whether you realise it or not, you are living every day of your life in the presence of a precious hidden treasure. It sits with you at the table and sleeps beside you in bed at night. It's so close that you can reach out and touch it any time you like. It's the treasure that lies concealed within the person you chose to marry.

Unfortunately, time has a way of tarnishing the glitter and making the treasure appear plain and dull. When this happens, husbands and wives lose sight of the hidden mystery that drew them together in the first place. And that's tragic, because treasure is all about mystery. Treasure is the word we use to describe things that are not merely valuable in monetary terms but iconic, archetypal, and significant in some profoundly primal sense – things like the Holy Grail or the Lost Ark of the Covenant.

Marriage partners need to make every effort to keep this sense of significance alive at the heart of their relationship. They need to learn how to treasure and cherish each other by intentionally lifting their old feelings of attraction and romance out of the realm of mere emotion and transforming them into a steady, consistent attitude.

2. Remembering
Exactly how is this "treasuring" accomplished? The answer is simple: by remembering. When life becomes comfortable, familiar and routine, most of us get complacent. We forget the wonderful blessings we've received. That's why it’s important to celebrate important occasions, such as anniversaries and birthdays, so that we are kept reminded of what we have.

If you and your spouse have lost sight of the sparkle that led you to the altar, it's time you reached back into your shared past and made an attempt to reclaim it. Once it's within your grasp, it would also be a good idea to follow it forward from that point in time and try to remember all the little incidents along the pathway of marriage that have made you precious to each other. Memory is a powerful tool. If you want a strong marriage, you have to know how to make the most of it.

3. Keeping a record
Dr. Greg Smalley describes how he once walked in on his father, marriage expert and counselor Dr. Gary Smalley, and found him staring intently at his computer screen.

"What are you looking at?" asked Greg.

"Well," his dad began, "a number of years ago I started a list of why your mom is so valuable. So when I'm upset with her or when we've had a fight, I've learned that instead of sitting here thinking about how hurt or frustrated I am, I make myself read through this list."

Gary Smalley had grasped a vital truth. Thriving couples intentionally treasure and honour each other, and they do it by keeping a conscious account of the things they value about their relationship. Some people keep mementoes to remember the important moments or milestones of their lives. Reminders in a tangible, physical form (from wearing your wedding ring to photos and keeping a journal or writing down a list of the qualities you love and admire most in your spouse and sharing it with him or her as opportunities arise) are an effective way of preserving precious memories and embodying reminders of ongoing blessings. It's also important to take time out to celebrate anniversaries and other significant marital milestones. These occasions can be enhanced by the giving of special gifts – for example, a ring or a pendant – intended to commemorate special events in a couple's life.

4. Looking ahead
If cherishing is to be pushed to an even higher level in a couple's marital experience, it will happen because they find ways not only to keep in touch with the past, but to project the past into the future.

In marriage, the cherishing at the heart of the marital union needs to be preserved as a living thing. Sometimes when a couple's relationship begins to falter, they try to fix it by making an attempt to recapture the feelings they had for each other back in the "good old days." That's fine, but it isn't enough to propel their marriage forward into the next phase. If you want to grow in your ability to love and honour each other, you have to turn yesterday's good times into a springboard to the great things up ahead. The key is to go out of your way and celebrate the best in each other.

From the Focus on the Family website at focusonthefamily.com. © 2016 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Questions for Discussion

  1. How can we be more intentional in the future about unearthing, cherishing and celebrating the hidden and mysterious treasures we recognise in each other? What can we do to prevent the routine of life from creating an attitude of boredom about the life we share together?
  2. How can we celebrate the best in each other as we move together from the past into the future?
  3. What is one way I can let you know that I cherish you in the coming week?