Traditional marriage vows utilize language that may have been common at one time, but in the modern world, words like “cherish” may not be as clear as one would like when proclaiming one’s everlasting devotion. To understand what it really means to “cherish” one’s spouse, you must look into the roots of the word, as well as into the assumptions of what it may mean.
Cherish as a Verb
When used as a verb, the word cherish means to care for tenderly or to nurture another.
Used in the context of marriage vows, this would imply that promising to cherish one another means that you promise to treat one another with gentleness while providing an emotionally stable and nurturing environment.
Cherish as an Idea
When one states that he will cherish his partner until death, it is assumed that an agreement has been made that the couple will hold each other in highest esteem for the rest of their lives together. When this promise is made, it is often forgotten upon the realization that small irritations have become big problems. When couples forget to cherish one another, the little things that initially seemed inconsequential become circumstances in which cherishing one another is the last thing on anyone’s mind.
Cherish as an Action
According to Carla Wills Brandon, Ph.D, in order to maintain the reality of cherishing one another in marriage, there must be an ongoing acceptance of one another. Honesty is vital to keeping integrity intact, and this must be actively pursued as a gentle understanding that no one is perfect, and that loving honesty is something that is the epitome of actually cherishing one another.
Cherish as a Motivation
Using the idea of cherishing your spouse is a valid tool to reduce temptation. Before engaging in an appealing but possibly negative activity, picture the smiling face of your spouse. Try to remember how much you care about him, and remember that when you cherish someone you avoid doing things that would cause that person pain.
Sometimes people assume that to be cherished is to be showered in gifts. This is not so. To cherish someone is not necessarily monetarily bountiful. True cherishment includes active emotional listening with attentiveness to the feelings and dreams of another person. According to author and therapist Ty Clement, if your partner thinks that cherishing means she should be getting more stuff, make it clear that you do not feel cherished by that assumption.