For many of us we often have it at the back of our minds that the traditional wedding vow should mostly be "for better, for worse", "for richer, for poorer", "in sickness and in health" and of course "till death us do part", but there is one that people tended to forget.
What is it? "To love and to cherish".
"Cherish" – it is a funny, rather old-fashioned word isn't it? You're unlikely to hear it mentioned much outside a wedding service. But it is a key ingredient in a healthy marriage and one we would do well not to forget.
So, how do we make sure that we are living out our vow to "cherish" our partner? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Be intentional.
To cherish isn't a passive action – it's an active one. It's about nurturing, loving, protecting, caring for and treasuring our partner.
2. Be kind.
I don't think you can be unkind and cherish someone at the same time. It can be challenging to be kind when we feel upset, hurt, disappointed or angry with our spouse but if we are determined to cherish them, then we need to try. Being kind doesn't mean ignoring what is wrong or pretending bad stuff hasn't happened. It does mean putting down our desire to hurt back, get revenge, score points, sulk, attack, criticise or nag. It means choosing our moment to say what we need to say without lashing out or saying words that we'll regret. And it means forgiving and asking for forgiveness when we need to. One way we can practise this is by being kind about and to our spouse in public, especially in front of children if you have them. How could you show your husband or wife support, encouragement or kindness in public or private today?
3. Choose to love.
There'll be days where we might not 'feel' in love with our partner. That is normal. But every day we can choose to love them. We can choose to move towards our wife or husband rather than away from them in the way we act, respond or behave. We can choose to meet their needs and love them even if they aren't reciprocating. It doesn't take much to cause a downward spiral in a relationship, especially if we tend to look out for our own interests and blame our partner when things go wrong. However, we can also be the catalyst that creates an upward spiral. How? By taking responsibility for our own reactions and behaviour and by loving our partner whether we feel like it or not.
4. Put being an 'us' first.
When we get married, we form a 'we' or 'us' and how we behave and respond in that relationship will either help to protect, build and nurture that 'us' or it will hurt, harm and ultimately destroy it. When things aren't going our way in a relationship it can be tempting to talk in terms of 'you' and 'I'.
5. Be their number one fan.
Most of us like it when we are appreciated, respected, encouraged, known and understood. I expect your spouse is the same. How could you show them that you are their number one fan? Do you need to listen more, spend more time with them, seek to understand them more, take more responsibility, show them more intimacy, encourage them, support them more especially in public.