By Greg Smalley
Here are some ways to cherish your wife and to recognise her value.
“The most significant thing that a husband can give his wife is honour or value. No other quality, possession, or activity will insure a good marriage.” – Gil Stieglitz
I have been to many weddings and heard couples declare their love for each other in ways that brought tears to my eyes. I have listened to words that have caused me to laugh out loud and, sadly, I’ve heard couples say things that have made me shake my head in disbelief. But one of the most powerful phrases that couples use in the ceremony goes something like this: “I will love and cherish you all the days of my life.”
Maybe you had this very line in your wedding vows. If so, you unleashed a powerful word that can help you build a strong marriage and honour your wife on Mother’s Day.
What is the word? It’s not what most people guess — it’s not the word love. Although love is important, I want to show you the amazing power of the word cherish.
Cherishing your wife
To cherish your wife is to have a certain mindset or attitude toward her. Cherish means that you recognise your wife’s incredible value. And even in those moments when you forget how valuable she is, her value never changes.
When you cherish your wife, she feels “warm.” The Greek word for cherish is thalpó which means “to warm.” This is the power of cherish — your wife is warmed when you recognise her value. Here are some ways to cherish your wife:
Recognise your wife’s value
Here are some of my favourite examples of how women are awesome.
Women are gracious with their words of affirmation. I’m often amazed how women affirm and encourage one another when meeting: “I love your hair!” “That shirt looks amazing on you.” “You look like you’ve lost weight.” “Where did you get those darling shoes? … I want a pair.”
Women are tremendous helpers. But helper doesn’t mean someone to cook my meals, care for my children and clean my house. One of my favourite ways that Erin helps me is by carrying my burdens. This world is rough. There are plenty of times that I need help dealing with something that’s too big to carry alone.
Women are hard workers. Research consistently shows that women spend two hours or more each day doing housework, caring for children, and doing other unpaid work than men — even when she also has a full-time job. During the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to working from home, many women became homeschool teachers, nurses, chief germ inspectors, entertainers and 3-meals-a-day short-order cooks.
Women express more empathy and compassion. Women’s brains simply seem wired to care more about how others are feeling.
Women are better at multitasking. I’m amazed at what Erin is able to accomplish in any given hour. While I’m able to focus on one thing, she is able to plan an appointment with a client, coordinate a parent-teacher conference, plan a dinner menu and comfort a hurting friend.
Tell her how valuable she is to you
Recognising your wife’s incredible value is only the beginning. You need to tell her. You can do this by creating your own “cherish list” just in time for Mother’s Day. Think about why you value your wife. For example, it might be a character trait, parenting skill, or role she plays that you appreciate. You could include things such as personality characteristics, how she treats you, physical traits, and so on. Here’s part of my cherish list for Erin:
- Beautiful — you’re gorgeous on the outside and stunning on the inside
- Funny — you have a wonderful sense of humour
- Extrovert — you love people
- Big heart — you love wholeheartedly
- Friend — you’re a great friend to women
- High capacity — you can multitask well and can accomplish a lot every day
- Compassionate — you love to help others when they’re hurting
- Counsellor — you’re a wise therapist and guide others
- Passionate — you love deeply, rejoice greatly and grieve deeply with a loss
- Loyal — you will stand by your loved ones, even when they’re difficult to love
Be sure to keep this list nearby so you can periodically add to it and revise it when you need to remember your wife’s value. Also, don’t keep this amazing list to yourself — share it with your wife. Let her know that you recognise her value.
Accept her influence
Psychologist John Gottman is one of the best marriage researchers on the planet. When he does a study, it’s worth listening to.
Gottman and his colleagues followed 130 newlywed couples for six years to find which marriages succeed and why. Turns out, happy, stable marriages had one thing in common: The husband was willing to accept his wife’s influence. In contrast, when husbands responded to their wives’ complaints by stonewalling or belittling them, the marriage was almost sure to fail: More than four-fifths of those relationships — 81% — imploded. That’s an astounding statistic!
But what does accepting your wife’s influence mean? When your wife says there’s something wrong with your marriage, guess what? There’s probably something wrong with your marriage. And for the sake of that marriage, we husbands need to listen.
Women tend to understand the nuances of relationships better than men. Neurophysiologists from Stanford found that women “catch subliminal messages faster and more accurately.” Their limbic system is more developed, which puts them more in touch with (and willing to discuss) their feelings. They’re better at reading non-verbal cues, everything from facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. “Women’s intuition” may sound like a cliché, but there’s a lot of truth to it.
My father, Gary Smalley, used to say that women have a “built-in marriage manual.” Intuitively, she knows what she needs, what the relationship needs and often has some good ideas on how to fix it. But you know what else she needs? A husband who has the courage to ask her to share that manual with him.
Husbands are supposed to lead the family. But husbands can forget how important getting input and advice from their wives is.
Husbands need to recognise and appreciate their wives’ perspectives and be open to their ideas, desires, and even criticism. Just listening and honouring her perspective paves the way for more productive, loving conversation. It conveys that you respect her thoughts, that her opinions are valued and that what she wants is really important to you. And when husbands listen to their wives, they should not belittle or respond defensively.
Why do some husbands reject their wives’ influence? Part of it is insecurity. He fears a loss of power. He doesn’t want to be controlled. Maybe he feels that, by listening, he’s failing at leading.
But the opposite is true. When a husband listens to his wife and accepts her influence, he’s more likely to win the right to influence his wife in turn — that is, to lead her. You’re not losing control by asking for and allowing input: A smart leader recognises the strengths and talents of his team. Remember Gottman’s study: “Men who are able to accept their spouses’ ideas are more likely to maintain a successful relationship.”
Treat her as an equal partner
Husbands may lead the family, but they shouldn’t lead in a vacuum. It’s a team effort, and men should always approach it that way. Look for win-win solutions and maintain an attitude of cooperation. Remember, in marriage, we should pick “we” over “me.” A wife feels honoured and valued when you treat her as an equal partner throughout your marriage journey.
© 2020 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at focusonthefamily.com.