What Cherishing Your Spouse Really Means
For 20 years, I had loved my wife — serving, sacrificing, persevering. But I had conveniently forgotten to consider what it meant to cherish her. To do that, I had to figure out what cherishing meant.
Wayne Williams grew up a Chicago Cubs fan because that was his father’s favorite team, which also meant that for most of Wayne’s life he lived as a frustrated sports enthusiast. At the time, the Cubs had the longest World Series drought in the major leagues, but even so, at the start of every season Wayne and his father renewed a promise to each other: When (not if, but when) the Cubbies made it to the World Series, they would listen to the games together.
Chicago finally made it during the 2016 season, and Wayne resolved to keep the promise he had made as a boy, even though it would be costly. He now lived in North Carolina. His dad was in Indiana. It would have been easy to discard the agreement as sentimental foolishness, but Wayne believes a promise made is a promise kept, so he traveled to Indiana to share the last game of the World Series with his father.
But there was another hitch: Wayne’s dad died in 1980. So Wayne put a lawn chair next to his father’s grave and watched the game on his iPhone for the next four and a half hours.
I love stories of people keeping difficult promises. There’s something especially noble about a person being true to his or her word, even at great cost.
Perhaps that’s why I was taken aback when God reminded me of a promise I had made on my wedding day: I had vowed to “love and to cherish” my wife until death brought us apart.
For more than 20 years, I had focused on love — serving, sacrificing, persevering — but had conveniently forgotten to consider what it meant to cherish my wife. God made it clear that it was time to be true to my word. But first, I had to figure out what cherishing even meant.
A new delight
One of the easiest ways for me to discover the difference between loving and cherishing was to compare the famous biblical chapter on love (1 Corinthians 13) with the Song of Solomon, a book devoted to cherishing. Consider these comparisons:
Love is about being gracious and altruistic. “Love is patient and kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Cherish is about being enthusiastic and enthralled. “How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice” (Song of Solomon 4:10).
Love tends to be quiet and understated. “Love does not envy or boast” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Cherish boasts boldly and loudly. “My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand” (Song of Solomon 5:10).
Love thinks about others with selflessness. “[Love] is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Cherish thinks about its beloved with praise. “Your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song of Solomon 2:14).
Love doesn’t want the worst for someone. “[Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing” (1 Corinthians 13:6). Cherish celebrates the best in someone. “Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful” (Song of Solomon 1:15).
Love puts up with a lot. “[Love] hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Cherish enjoys a lot. “His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable” (Song of Solomon 5:16).
Love and cherish complement each other. Without the bedrock force of love, cherishing won’t last. It’ll be a sentimental ideal that is lost in the real world. Without cherishing, love feels like a duty more than a delight. I don’t want my wife to think I’m with her only because God says I’m not allowed to leave; I want her to think my greatest delight is sharing life with her.