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How To Cherish Your Partner

Cherish. It is a word usually reserved for wedding vows and love songs. But what does it really mean to cherish? Isn't just loving someone enough?

"Cherishing a person means that you are so deeply connected that you feel their joy, feel their pain and become part of their experiences," says Deanna Luke, a Ft. Worth, Texas grandmother and children's book author.

Cherishing someone you love forms a deep, intimate bond with that person. Their world becomes something in which you take a vested interest. Feeling cherished is something we all long to experience. It makes us feel valued and treasured. It's natural to want to feel cherished by the people you love because cherishing someone is an extension of our love.

"You can love something or someone but to cherish them means you have the highest regard for them because you are giving them your soul," says Dauna Scofield, mother of three from Winston-Salem, N.C.

But making someone else our highest priority doesn't usually come as second nature. Too often, we become busy with our jobs, car pools, children and other activities. We don't stop to cherish the people who are important in our lives. In fact, if you were to ask people on the street if they feel cherished, most would be hard pressed to say yes. Fortunately, there are opportunities waiting for us, each day, to cherish one another. Cherishing someone you love doesn't have to take elaborate planning or great expense, but it will take a conscious effort. And the rewards are bountiful!

Love Notes, Kisses and Hugs

Words of affirmation or an affectionate gesture are simple, yet powerful ways to show someone you cherish them. Deb Firebaugh of Casper, Wyo. says she feels cherished when her husband kisses her on the cheek and tells her he loves her before he leaves for work in the morning.

Trey Graham, a motivational speaker and author of Lessons for the Journey (American House Publishing), suggests leaving notes for your spouse in locations where they will be found, sending flowers, praising your spouse in public, helping your spouse around the house, praying for your spouse and planning weekly date nights. "Find creative ways to show them they have worth and value," Graham says. In your journey to cherish, you'll need to ask questions to learn what makes your spouse feel valued and treasured.

Not everyone will respond positively to love notes or receiving flowers. James Wilson, publisher of the weekly e-zine Secrets of a Romantic Marriage, suggests asking questions and watching how your spouse responds to you. This will serve as a base for future opportunities to cherish. "Honey, how would you like me to respond when you're discouraged?" is a great question to start with, says Wilson. The answer may surprise you. Perhaps the entire time you've been married, you've been trying to "cheer up" your spouse, when what they really needed was for you to just listen and hold them.

Wilson also recommends paying close attention to how your spouse reacts to what you do. "For instance, she may prefer you to cancel a social engagement when she's 'peopled out,' rather than find an 'I Love You' spelled out in M & Ms on her pillow," says Wilson.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Deb Firebaugh recently experienced a miscarriage. She was devastated and heartbroken. When she returned to her Casper, Wyo. home from the hospital, she was greeted by her 3-year-old son, Michael. Michael asked what happened to the baby in her tummy. Tearfully, his mother told him that she didn't have the baby in her tummy anymore. Without hesitation, Michael went to his room and found his favorite baby doll and told her, "You can have my baby, Mama." Even children at a young age can cherish someone dear to them.

Debbie Milam, a Weston, Fla. mom and author of Lunchboxes of Love: Reusable Love Notes for Your Children (Unlimited Inspiration), believes parents are the greatest models. "If as parents we cherish our children, they will learn how to cherish others," she says.

Milam conveys that she cherishes her children by placing love notes in their lunch boxes and having pleasant conversation during dinnertime.

"The dinner table is a wonderful time to nurture your children," she says. Ask specific questions of your children about their interests. Tell them how much you appreciate their kindness toward other people. Tell them how precious and valued they are to you and the whole family. Once a week, make your child's favorite meal or dessert. Praise him in front of other people and watch him beam ear to ear.

But probably one of the best ways to show your child that you treasure her is by spending one-on-one time. All children crave individual time with their parents. Aim for once a month to have this "date night" with your child. Make sure all the attention is geared toward him. Do an activity that appeals just to him. Linger over her favorite books in the bookstore. Or take him to a favorite exhibit at the museum he has been begging to see.

What can you expect when you cherish your child? "When children feel cherished, they have a better sense of themselves and are able to see that they can make a difference in this world," says Luke. "They are able to connect with people on a deeper level."

The benefits of cherishing are too great to miss: Cherishing has a tidy dividend. When you express adoration and appreciation to another person, it will not only bring delight to their soul, but to your own as well.

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