I’m sure you would agree that you need to cherish your spouse, but did you know that cherishing is a habit that needs to be developed?
The image above shows the literal definition of the word cherish. It’s a verb, and its action oriented. But this post is about what needs to happen in us before the right actions occur.
I’m thinking about this because I just finished reading a great book by Dr. John Gottman entitled, The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work; and in chapter 5 he writes about nurturing fondness and admiration, and he makes this statement about the importance of cherishing:
Cherishing is a habit of mind in which, when you are separated during the course of the day , you maximize thoughts of your partner’s positive qualities and minimize thoughts of negative ones. This active focusing on your partner’s merits allows you to nurture gratefulness for what you have instead of resenting what is missing. Many couples do not realize they are neglecting to cherish each other.
It’s a habit of mind, a mental discipline, to think primarily about your spouses good qualities throughout the day – even when you’re apart. It’s not denial, but a daily decision to major in your spouses strengths, and minor in their weaknesses.
Developing the habit of cherishing your spouse will effect you in profound ways. It will…
(1) produce a greater sense of GRATEFULNESS for your spouses good qualities
(2) help to eliminate RESENTMENT over what is MISSING
And when we’re grateful, rather than resentful, we’re much, much happier.
This idea is found in the Bible…
Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. –Philippians 4:8 (TLB)
When you think about your spouse, what do you dwell on? Fixing our thoughts on the good things in others is a choice we make to remember their good qualities. Why? Because we quickly and easily forget.
And when you’re grateful, rather than resentful, your spouse will know it and feel it.
Dr. Gottman also concludes this section of the book with a great little exercise for couples to go through together. In fact, the book is filled with usable exercises that are very, very good. If you like a book that has practical steps and exercises that you can sink your teeth into (which I do), then this book is a meat sandwich.
Are you neglecting to cherish your spouse? Find out by completing the following questionnaire:
FONDNESS and ADMIRATION QUESTIONNAIRE
The following questions have been designed by Dr. Gottman to assess the current level of fondness and admiration that exists in your relationship. On a sheet of paper, please answer T for true and F for false.
- I can easily list the three things I most admire about my partner. T F
- When we are apart, I often think fondly about my partner. T F
- I will often find some way to tell my partner “I love you.” T F
- I often touch or kiss my partner affectionately. T F
- My partner really respects me. T F
- I feel loved and cared for in this relationship. T F
- I feel accepted and liked by my partner. T F
- My partner finds me sexy and attractive. T F
- My partner turns me on sexually. T F
- There is fire and passion in this relationship. T F
- Romance is definitely still a part of our relationship. T F
- I am really proud of my partner. T F
- My partner really enjoys my achievements and accomplishments. T F
- I can easily tell you why I started dating my partner. T F
- If I had it all over again, I would date the same person. T F
- We rarely go to sleep without some show of love or affection. T F
- When I come into a room, my partner is glad to see me. T F
- My partner appreciates the things I do in this relationship. T F
- My partner generally likes my personality. T F
- Our sex life is generally satisfying. T F
Scoring: Give yourself one point for each true answer.
10 or above: This is an area of strength in your relationship. Because you value each other highly, you have a shield that can protect your relationship from being overwhelmed by any negativity that also exists between you. Although it might seem obvious to you that people who are in love have a high regard for each other, its common for spouses to lose sight of some of their fondness and admiration over time. Remember that this fondness and admiration is a gift worth cherishing. Completing this exercise from time to time will help you reaffirm your positive feelings for each other.
Below 10: Your relationship could stand some improvement in this area. Don’t be discouraged by a low score! There are many couples for whom the fondness and admiration system has not died but is buried under layers of negativity, hurt feelings, and betrayal. By reviving the positive feelings that still lie deep below, you can vastly improve your marriage!