Gary Thomas, author of the perennial bestseller Sacred Marriage, which has sold over 700,000 copies, is releasing his newest book, Cherish: The One Word that Changes Everything for Your Marriage. Unlike other marriage books that focus only on love, in Cherish, Thomas explores what happens when spouses truly keep their wedding vows of “to love and to cherish.”
“Most marriages survive by gritting teeth and holding on. But marriages can not only survive but thrive when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another,” said Thomas. “To cherish something is to hold it dear and to find great pleasure in it. Millions of couples have pledged ‘to love and to cherish, till death do us part.’ Most of us understand the love part – but what does it mean to cherish our spouses? Why do we say it once and then rarely mention it again?”
From the first chapter, Thomas powerfully reminds readers that applying the aspect of cherish in a relationship means readers should want to protect their spouse from physical, emotional and spiritual dangers while also treating them with tenderness, nurturing them, indulging them, and holding them dear.
“Love and cherish never compete—they complement each other and even complete each other,” Thomas writes. “The good news is that cherishing your spouse is something you can learn to do. It’s not just a feeling that comes and goes; there are spiritual and relational practices that generate feelings of cherishing your spouse as you act on them so you do hold them dear in your heart. Learning to cherish actually creates joy, fulfillment, happiness and satisfaction. It’s one of those spiritual realities that may not make logical sense, but when you take it by faith and put it into practice, it works.”
Each chapter of the book focuses on a particular attribute of what it means to cherish one’s spouse. Thomas uses personal stories and simple analogies to dive deep into providing practical principles to help couples move from simply going through the motions of a relationship – living in the same house, sharing a bank account, sleeping in the same room – to finding joy by cherishing one another with proven, loving and everyday actions and words.
One such example is Thomas’ comparison of marriage to a magnificent ballet. While pointing out that people generally attend the ballet to see the beautiful form, grace, balance, coordination and strength of the female lead, Thomas paints a picture of how all of those qualities are even better showcased when the ballerina has a male dancer who can set her up, catch her, and support her.
Thomas goes on to challenge readers to consider their role within marriage as one to “make the beautiful more beautiful” by supporting, stabilizing, lifting and turning our spouses to the “best sides” of their strengths and personalities to help them become more and do more than they ever could on their own.
“‘Showcasing’—making the deliberate mental shift to cherish our spouses by highlighting their beauty to others in the same way a dancer focuses on supporting his partner—is an essential part of learning how to cherish our spouses. If two dancers are each trying their hardest to be noticed above or even by each other, the performance is going to be a colossal, ugly failure,” writes Thomas. “Very few marriages would approach divorce if each spouse would make one of their first daily comments to each other be this; ‘How can I support you today? How can I make your day better?’”
Throughout Cherish, Thomas utilizes Scripture to reveal the difference between love, as discussed in 1 Corinthians 13, and the act of cherishing, as displayed throughout Song of Songs. In the end, Thomas reminds readers that the gospel is essential to the concept of cherish.
“The application of the gospel is this: ‘We love because he first loved us,’” writes Thomas. “If you are in Christ, accepted by God, loved by God, cherished by God, forgiven by grace, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, then you’ll understand the life-changing truth that the God who cherishes the imperfect you is more than capable of helping you cherish an imperfect spouse.”
The end of each chapter of the book includes a “Cherishing Cherish” recap for readers as well as questions for discussion and reflection to help empower couples to begin immediately strengthening their marriage through the melding of “to love and to cherish.”
Gary Thomas is Writer in Residence (and serves on the teaching team) at Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas and author of 18 books that have sold over a million copies worldwide and have been translated into a dozen languages. He and his wife Lisa have been married for 30 years. For more information, visit www.garythomas.com.