I Cherish You

By Greg Smalley
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Thriving couples need to be intentional about treasuring, honoring and cherishing one another. Do these things characterize your relationship with your spouse?

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese

The act of cherishing is integral to family harmony and stability. This is especially true in marriage; Dictionary.com offers three definitions of cherish: 1) to hold or treat as dear; feel love for; 2)to care for tenderly; nurture; and 3) to cling fondly or inveterately to.

Love. Tenderness. Nurture. Do these things characterize your relationship with your spouse?

When you got married, your wedding vows likely included the promise to “love, honor, and cherish” one another. This phrase can actually be traced back to 1549, where it appeared in the first recorded wedding vows, found in The Book of Common Prayer. Here’s how they are recorded:

Groom: I, ____, take thee, _____, to be my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance.

Bride: I, ____, take thee, _____, to be my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance.

Those 16th century Anglicans understood that cherishing is an important practice for both husbands and wives. And of course, this concept didn’t originate with the Church of England. Jesus said that “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). To give your heart to your spouse is to treasure, or cherish, him or her.

It can be difficult to keep that in perspective, though, amidst the busy hustle-and-bustle of careers, responsibilities, and childrearing. That is why thriving couples need to be intentional about treasuring and honoring one another. They need to keep a conscious account of the things they value about their relationship. This might take the form of keeping a journal, preserving precious memories through photos and mementos, or even maintaining a list of the qualities and character traits they most admire about their spouse. it also means taking time out to celebrate anniversaries and other important milestones in their relationship.

With this in mind BEFORE your date, each of you should take some time alone to make a list of the things you value about your spouse. include his or her personality traits, character qualities, spirituality, caring behaviors, accomplishments, and even physical characteristics. Write them down and take the list with you on your date.


Remember, always act like you’re trying to get a second date! Sometimes in marriage we forget that we need to pursue and “woo” our spouse. So dress up a bit. Be polite and open doors. Compliment one another. Be affectionate – hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. Even as you consider the meaning of “healthy conflict” in your marriage, remember to protect your date night by cutting off any arguments and agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time.

Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.

Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the same old food, pick somewhere new or try a different type of cuisine.

Step 2: Share your lists!

Either over dinner or at a quiet location afterwards, share your lists with one another. Don’t simply hand your list to your spouse and expect him or her to read it in silence. Instead, read your list — out loud. Feel free to add additional details to what is written on the page. For example, if you listed “compassion” as one of the things you cherish about your mate, recall a specific time you observed him or her being compassionate. Receiving those words of affirmation and love in both written and verbal forms will be much more meaningful. After you’ve read your lists to one another, exchange them. Consider going to a craft store to get some stickers or even picture frames to adorn your lists. Once they’ve been decorated and personalized, keep them handy in a wallet or purse, on the nightstand, or in another accessible location as a regular reminder of the reasons your spouse cherishes you.

[NOTE: We shared a similar idea for creating a “cherish list” during one of last year’s Date Nights. If you’ve already created lists for one another during another date, consider an alternative activity that involves cherishing your spouse and your relationship: create a scrapbook of memories togetehr, exchange simple gifts that commemorate a special time in your marriage, etc.]

Step 3: Relax and unwind.

After your activity, find a quiet place for dessert or coffee to relax and emotionally connect through good conversation. Answer the following questions. Be sure to keep your responses positive, uplifting and encouraging.

  • What was your favorite part of the evening?
  • What is the one thing you learned tonight that you didn’t know about me before?
  • What is one way I can let you know that I cherish you over the coming week?

Step 4: Home Sweet Home

As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. Also, think about additional ways you can be intentional about cherishing one another – even amidst the hectic pace of your lives. Once you get home, however, it’s up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!

Download Printable Version PDF

© 2012 Focus on the Family.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Greg Smalley

Dr. Greg Smalley serves as the Vice President of Marriage at Focus on the Family. In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. Prior to joining Focus, Smalley worked for the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University and as President of the …

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.