Marriage Lessons From a 4-Year-Old

By Greg Smalley
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The word cherish implies a specific attitude and means that you recognize your mate's incredible value. You have the opportunity every day to choose to see how incredibly valuable your spouse is.

My family and I were getting ready to go on a vacation to Disney World when our then 4-year-old daughter, Murphy, came out the door, waving her most prized possession. “Don’t worry, Daddy,” Murphy yelled excitedly, “I found Gracie!”


How had Murphy found the little praying bunny that I’d hidden under her pillow? I knew that if we took Gracie with us, Murphy would inevitably lose her, and I’d have to spend time trying to find a new Gracie.

“Mommy and Daddy need you to leave Gracie here. We need someone to watch the house while we’re away,” I explained. I continued to provide reasons to leave the stuffed animal behind. Finally I became very stern and said, “Go put her back on your bed!”

Murphy, her head down and tears flowing, asked, “Are we going to have fun at Disney World?”

“Absolutely!” I said. Then I explained that their brochure says it’s “the happiest place on earth.”

Murphy slowly handed Gracie to me. “Daddy,” she said, “if we’re going to have that much fun, I love Gracie so much that I want you to take her, and I’ll stay home and watch the house.”

Needless to say, both Murphy and Gracie had a great time at Disney World! What Murphy did that day with Gracie is the essence of something that can also be applied to marriage.

In Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul instructs husbands to love their wives as they love their own bodies. In verse 29, he explains how they are to love their wives: “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.”

The word cherish implies a specific attitude and means that you recognize your mate’s incredible value. Murphy placed an enormous value on Gracie — she cherished her.

You have the opportunity every day to choose to see how incredibly valuable your spouse is. When your husband or wife knows that you deeply understand his or her value, he or she feels safe with you, and the connection you desire in marriage is instantaneously there. You can build a thriving marriage when you regularly cherish your spouse.

Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Family Ministries at Focus on the Family.

Copyright © 2014 Focus on the Family. From the Focus on the Family website at

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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 …

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