My husband and I just got home from spending a few days of alone time together. No kids, no worries, no schedules. Just us, the beach, and books.
While we were away, we had a chance to take a look at my friend Gary Thomas’s new book, Cherish. As we read through it together, this one part in particular stuck out to us. Over the past few years, we’ve been really dissecting and discussing what it means to “have eyes for only each other” and to mentally honor one another throughout every day. We’ve been mindful to guard our marriage in this way, and have set up many things to keep us accountable (a post for another day for those interested!)
As we read Gary’s book this week, this portion really resonated with us, because it’s not just an idea: it really works. We’ve watched our marriage go from good to great just by applying this concept, and I’m excited to know that we have room to keep growing!
I’m posting this today, because it doesn’t just apply to married couples. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: learning to guard your eyes and your heart while SINGLE will set you up for this kind of discipline it takes to have a fulfilling marriage.
I’m thankful that Gary gave me permission to post this portion of his new book on my blog. I hope it will inspire you, and push you to learn everything you can about cherishing your spouse the way God designed. And please, I’d love to hear your comments below, and I know Gary would appreciate your feedback as well! Enjoy this portion from Gary’s book, Cherish.
Men, if you want superlative satisfaction in your marriage, if you would enjoy a love for your wife that has no compare, if you want to know what it truly means to cherish your wife, then go back with me to the beginning of time—when Adam walked the earth with God.
Learning to cherish our wives takes us all the way back to the garden of Eden.
Adam watched animals play, discovered a wide variety of plants, had trees to climb, and talked to a God who was beyond imagining.
But there was no one like him.
God then put Adam in a deep sleep. When Adam woke up, he could hardly believe his eyes. Before him stood Eve—like him in the most important ways, but also so unlike him in even more important ways.
Those lips! Eyes that seemed curiously softer. Legs like his, but somehow, gloriously different.
Curves from shoulder to feet that, to this day, still make men sigh.
And she was his, as he was hers. What made this moment especially powerful, momentous, enthralling?
There was no Holly, Shanice, or Sofia.
There was just Eve. Adam couldn’t compare Eve’s back to Camila’s, or Eve’s legs to Emma’s. He couldn’t say, “Eve is kinder than Janet,” or “Eve isn’t as intelligent as Claire,” because there was only Eve in all her glory, the woman who defined “woman” to the first man.
He couldn’t imagine any other woman, because there wasn’t one. He couldn’t wonder what it would be like if she were taller or heavier or slimmer or darker or funnier or more intelligent. She just was.
The only woman in the world.
And Adam couldn’t have been happier.
If you want to be fully satisfied in your marriage, if you want your wife to feel cherished, then mentally treat your wife like Eve. Let her be, in your mind, in that way, the only woman in the world. Say with King Solomon, “My dove, my perfect one, is the only one” (Song of Songs 6:9 ESV).
Remember that day when your bride walked down the aisle and you lost your breath seeing your woman in all her glory, marching forward to give herself to you? No one else existed for you at that moment. No other woman came to mind. Everyone else was background furniture compared to the glorious bride who was about to become your wife.
I’ve stood next to many men in that moment—some of them breaking down and crying in front of family and coworkers. This doesn’t have to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It can be a daily reality.
To cherish our wives this way, we have to mentally choose to not look at any other woman that way. If you compare a two-carat diamond to a three-carat diamond, it will look small in comparison, even though it’s bigger and more expensive than 99 percent of the wedding ring diamonds out there. If you compare a comfortable three-thousand-square-foot home to a ten-thousand-square-foot mansion, the three-thousand-square-foot home may not feel so satisfying.
Pray a prayer that I refer to in Sacred Marriage, one I prayed early on in my own marriage: “Lord, let my wife define beautiful to me. Let her be the standard for what I find most attractive.”
God has answered this prayer, and it’s so affirming to my wife. However she is, is what I am most attracted to. She is the “plumb line” of beauty for me—a plumb line that ages with her. It is stunning to me that recently, after thirty-one years of marriage, my wife was standing in front of me, feeling all stressed-out, talking about how tired she felt and how frustrating certain aspects of her day had been. While trying to respond with empathy on the outside, inside I was thinking, “She is gorgeous. Still gorgeous.”
We can’t fill up our eyes with our wives if our eyes have been previously filled with someone else. One of the many dangers of porn is that it neurologically trains us to find our wives less beautiful.
I was working with a young husband who struggled in this area. After just a few weeks of victory, he saw his wife sitting across from him at a restaurant, and he started beaming.
“What?” his wife asked, noticing his intense delight. “You’re just so . . . gorgeous tonight.” She didn’t yet know what I knew—his eyes had been retrained, and it was showing. He was almost giddy just talking about it.
He won, she won, and even God smiled, because that night his son was cherishing his daughter, just the way God designed marriage to work.
If I want to cherish my wife’s body, I have to guard against building an attraction to any other body. That doesn’t mean you can’t find others attractive; it does define how you look at them and where you let your mind go.
It goes far beyond physical appearance, of course. I don’t compare my wife’s occasional frustrations with another woman’s peace, just as I won’t compare my wife’s skill set to another woman’s gifts. If I want supreme satisfaction in Lisa, if I want to truly cherish her, she must become to me like Eve, the only woman in the world. The only one I will ever look at in that way.
I defy any man to honestly say he has derived any lasting, godly satisfaction from looking at another woman the way he should look only at his wife; after the short moment of excitement, there will be a much longer season of frustration and discontent, followed by anger and marital distance.
Fantasizing about another woman is the highway to discontent and marital distance. It never leads you to your wife; it carries you away from her at seventy miles an hour. That’s how you create discontent, assault any attitude of cherishing your wife, and ruin your own happiness.
Adam was so blessed—and so happy, accordingly—because there was literally no one else to compare Eve to. And while the world is now populated with billions of other women, we men can still make the choice to look at our wives as Adam looked at Eve, the only woman who matters in that way.
To fill up our eyes with only her.
To be so taken with her that there is no Juliet, no Jada, and no Anna.
It’s a prayer first: “Lord, let me look at my wife as the only woman in the world.”
Then it’s a choice.
Then we guard our hearts and keep our focus.
It requires a recommitment when we stumble. We will have to go back and pray again. We will have to choose again.
But if we keep holding her dear, mentally reserving our focus exclusively for her, eventually it happens: our wives are cherished.
Our wives aren’t just our first choice, but our only choice.
We become happy, satisfied, fulfilled.
Because your wife defines beauty for you, your picture of the most beautiful woman in the world ages with your wife. You won’t be a sixty-year-old man pining after a twenty-five-year-old model. Who wants to be that guy anyway?
You’ll eventually be a sixty-year-old husband who is enthralled with his sixty-year-old wife and still finds his heart skipping a beat when she smiles in her own particular way or stands in front of you in that dress and the sun hits her just right and you forget about everything else, including time.
You’ve taught yourself to cherish her, and it’s worked. You’ve become enthralled with her, as you are with no other woman.
You want this, men. Trust me. You do. It is one of the supreme blessings of marriage that is often overlooked.
Cherishing is about learning to hold our spouses dear, and this takes vigilance. It takes intention. It takes practice. But when it arrives—when your wife is Eve and there is no other—you will feel like the most blessed husband alive.
Your wife will feel cherished because your adoration will be as genuine as the beginning of time. Your heavenly Father will experience joy because he delights when his daughter is richly cherished. Your kids will feel secure because they spiritually feed off their parents’ affection.
Everybody wins. Everybody. But Adam wins the most.
Read more from Gary’s new book, Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything For Your Marriage
Gary Thomas is a bestselling author and international speaker whose ministry brings people closer to Christ and closer to others. He unites the study of Scripture, church history, and the Christian classics to foster spiritual growth and deeper relationships. Gary’s unique message will help you:
* Embrace the unique way that you interact with God.
* Partner in the spiritual growth and character formation of your spouse.
* Build a closer, grace-based family.
* Enjoy God with a new sense of freedom and delight.
Find out more at: www.GaryThomas.com