Cherishing Your Spouse
About the Guest
Did you realize your wedding dress was really a cheerleader uniform? It's true, according to David Delk, author of "The Marriage Prayer." David reminds us that in marriage we get the privilege of cheering for, encouraging, and cherishing our spouse.
David DelkDavid Delk serves as President and Co-CEO of Man in the Mirror. He is the author or coauthor of five books, including The Marriage Prayer, Dad in the Mirror and No Man Left Behind. David has served as President of the National Coalition of Ministries to Men, and has served as a visiting lecturer in Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary. He graduated with a degree in Mathematics from Furman University, and was selected to be a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to earn his Master of...more
Did you realize your wedding dress was really a cheerleader uniform? David Delk reminds us that in marriage we get the privilege of cheering for, encouraging, and cherishing our spouse.
Cherishing Your Spouse
Bob: One of the effects of being in Christ / being a Christian and trusting Christ with your life is that you’re freed from your addiction to yourself. Here’s David Delk.
David: The paradox of the gospel that Jesus talks about, where He says, “If you try to save your life, you’re going to lose it; but if you lose your life for My sake, then you’ll find it again.” It lives itself out in our marriages in such incredible ways if you start looking for it because, when you start having an other-person focus rather than a self-focus, it is amazing to see how God begins to use that. When we really focus on the other person, at some point, most of us begin to experience this blessing back that is so much greater than what we would’ve gotten had we been focused on ourselves.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 9th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll talk today about how praying for one another and praying with one another in marriage is one way that God helps us break our addiction to self. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. This is Day 9 in the FamilyLife Oneness Prayer Challenge / our 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge going on during the month of September. Got a lot of husbands and wives, who are joining with us, each day—we’re excited about that—praying together.
Today, we’re talking about acknowledging, in our prayer time together, that there is someone who wants your marriage to fail—understanding that you have an enemy who is opposed to your marriage being strong, and vibrant, and God-glorifying. We’re encouraging husbands to pray today with your wife that God would help the two of you grow together in your understanding of His purpose and design for your marriage.
We’re encouraging wives to pray with an awareness that the devil is opposed to your marriage and asking God to help both of you be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might—from Ephesians, Chapter 6, verse 10.
If you’re not receiving the daily prayer prompts that we’re sending out via text and email, you can sign up and join us in this 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge. Even though it’s Day 9, you can hop right in the middle of it and start praying each day, together, for your marriage. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER,” and then look for information about the 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge. Sign up—it’s free. We’ll send you the prayer prompts each day.
I have to think that, when husbands and wives do start praying together, Dennis, there are certain things that kind of become routine—that you wind up repeating in your prayers.
That’s true for me, and I’ve heard you pray enough to know that there are certain phrases that show up in your prayers regularly. When you pray with Barbara each day, do those prayers start to sound similar? Are you repeating a similar pattern as you guys pray together each day?
Dennis: Yes. There’s a pattern of giving thanks for her and for what He’s given us the privilege of doing and being a part of. A lot of times there’s—before we ask anything, we try to be careful to give thanks and to really express appreciation to God for His benefits and His blessings.
Bob: The reason I bring it up is because we’ve been talking, this week, about this idea of a marriage prayer—a pattern that you follow, on a daily basis, in praying for one another in marriage. The benefit of that is it does keep orienting your thinking around some core ideas that are important to keep top of mind.
Dennis: It was God who created marriage.
Dennis: He created marriage—man and woman in His image—and He commissioned us to reflect His glory.
[Previously Recorded Interview]
Helping us talk about how we do that is David Delk. He joins us again on FamilyLife Today. David, glad you could join us again.
David: Thanks so much for the opportunity.
Dennis: David is the President of Man in the Mirror. He has written a book called The Marriage Prayer—coauthored that with Patrick Morley.
We’ve been talking about his marriage prayer. I want to focus in on where the prayer is different because what a woman prays for her husband and you have a prayer that is 68 words long.Now, her prayer says, “I want to hear him, support him, and serve him.” His prayer for her, “I want to hear her,”—that’s the same—“cherish her,”—that’s different—and “serve her.” Really, the only one term is different, but how they get worked out is very different. Let’s start with the husband: “How can a man better hear his wife?”
David: Communication is one of the issues that we hear about constantly as we work with men and women about marriage. You’ve probably heard the old thing, “Men don’t communicate.” Actually, that’s not true. If you have a guy that loves flying for a hobby and you start talking about planes, you’ll get an earful—[Laughter]—or whatever it is. It’s true that men communicate about what is interesting to them.
One of the things that we need to do in marriage—and one of the things that this prayer is meant to do is—if you’re a man, who’s never prayed before for his wife on a regular basis, and you start praying this prayer every day—the idea is to help you understand that, when you listen to her, it’s more than just about getting along with one another, or being happy, or whatever. God has granted you the privilege of helping your wife become everything that He wants her to be. A part of the way that’s going to happen is by you communicating with her.
Bob: I think you’re making a great point here. If there are breakdowns in communication, it is oftentimes because we have not heard one another.
We may have heard the words—I mean, MaryAnn will say to me—sometimes, she’ll think I’m not listening; right? She’ll say, “Are you listening to me?” I can feedback to her the line she just said.
Dennis: Generally, what she said.
Bob: And she will say to me, “That’s not the same as listening.” [Laughter] The fact that you can spit back the line doesn’t mean you were listening. The Apostle James says, “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” I’ve sometimes wondered if we were quick to listen and slow to speak, would that help us be slow to anger? I think it would. I think God’s lining something out here, saying, “Look, both of you, you just need to be listening well to each other.”
I really like the fact that you have put that in this prayer because, when we’re talking about communication at the Weekend to Remember® marriage conference, it’s where we start—
—we say, “If you want to improve your communication, it starts by being a better listener.” Most of us think better communication means we do a better job at expressing ourselves. Well, that’s important, too; but it starts with listening. If more couples would be committed to really hearing one another—not just hearing the words / hearing what’s behind the words and being able to say back to your spouse: “I want to make sure I’m hearing everything you’re saying. Are you saying this…?”—that can have a catalytic impact on a marriage.
David: Oh, it’s huge. The temptation is to give advice or an overly-quick reply. I remember, one day, we were struggling with something at the office. We had some decisions to make about computers, and we’ve been researching for a couple of months and talked to four or five different experts. I came in at the end of the day; and Ruthie said, “How was your day?” This was the last thing I was working on—so I said, “We’re about to make this big decision between this and the other thing.” I explained it; and she said, “Well, why don’t you just…?” and she told me what she thought I should do.
Bob: She went to fix-it mode; huh?
David: Well, she would tell you—she’s not exactly a computer expert; right?
So, all the things that immediately went through my mind—I was smart enough not to say any of them. [Laughter] But here’s what happened / here’s where the Lord did—the Lord turned it around on me and said: “How often, David, do you do that to her? How often has she been praying about something with the kids—struggling with it, working on it every day, and she shares it with you—and there, you’ve got an answer?” You don’t need an answer. You need somebody to hear your heart and share that with you.
Dennis: You have a wife praying the same thing—“I want to hear him.” What should a woman know in terms of hearing her husband because it seems, to me, that what it took Barbara 15 minutes to tell me about the yard—if we’d reversed this and I’d done it—I could have easily told you about the yard in 90 seconds.
Bob: [Laughter] You’re pretty efficient with your words; aren’t you?
David: [Laughter] Yes.
Dennis: “Just cut to the chase—get to the bottom line.” Women need to realize, when her husband gives you the Reader’s Digest© version, she doesn’t have to be satisfied with that—she can follow up with a question.
Dennis: Peel the onion a little bit and find out what he’s thinking about what’s going on. Many times, if you ask those questions, he’s going to find out what he’s thinking. He may not know when he’s sharing the story.
David: That’s exactly right. Guys will give you that information because, often, guys are more about conveying data or information. If you called someone on the phone, and had to tell them something—and the guy said, “Oh, John already told me,”—that would be a relief to you, as a man, probably. You’d be like: “Oh great, I don’t have to spend three minutes telling you about this meeting or whatever. Fantastic! See you.” Now, the last time your wife started to tell you something and you said, “Oh, I already know what you’re going to say.” That probably didn’t go so well.
Bob: Yes, right. [Laughter]
David: Because it’s not about the information or the data—it’s about the experience and the sharing of the relationship.
Bob: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Alright, so we both pray, “I want to hear him,” / “I want to hear her.” That’s a part of the marriage prayer that you suggested for us, as couples.
But the next point is where it diverges. A wife prays, “I want to support him.” Why did you pick that word or that idea and put that in? I mean, this is the one departure point in the prayer between men and women.
Dennis: Yes, I want to know why you didn’t put the word, “submission,” right there! [Laughter]
David: Well, we really were looking at the biblical idea of men and women and how God has made us. There’s lots of ways to talk about a man’s greatest need—respect or other things. One of the things that we say is “significance”—a man wants to believe that he’s involved in something that matters.
If you think about how you would relate to someone so that they would feel significant, to support them is going to help them experience that reality. That’s one of the things that men need from their wives—is that feeling of support, as a man, in what God’s calling them to do—as a husband, as a father, as a worker, as a church man, and all those relationships.
Bob: One of the wives, who speaks at our Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences—her name’s Robyn McKelvy.
Robyn lives in Nashville with her husband Ray. Ray’s on a church staff there. They’re a great couple—they speak together at the conferences.
She shared an illustration that has just stuck with me, and I think that it is very true. She said, “When I was in high school,”—she said—“I was a cheerleader.” She said: “Our team didn’t do very well. They tried hard / they worked hard,” but she said, “There—a lot of nights that—there, in the fourth quarter, you were cheering for a lost cause. You knew the game was over. You knew if your guys were having a bad night.” She said, “What you did—was you kept cheering for them—you kept encouraging them.”
She takes that illustration, and then she turns to the women at the conference, and she says: “Ladies, your wedding dress is a cheerleader uniform. Your husband needs you to be cheering him on.”
David: Wow, that’s powerful.
Bob: The support you’re talking about is really that encouragement, that affirmation,
that believing in him—along with maybe some tangible ways that you can come alongside and support him—but there is something really profound about a wife who says, “I believe in you.”
David: Yes. “I’m behind you,”—absolutely.
Dennis: Now, here’s a part of the prayer where Ruthie prays this over you, “I want to hear him, support him, and serve him.” Back to the support idea, how does she support you then?
David: Well, I think one of the things that she demonstrates to me, consistently, is that she’s willing to help me pursue the things that I believe that God wants me to do. For example, I teach the middle school boys at my church. We have the middle school Manhood Adventure on Sunday mornings. She’s right there—she’s helping me with any kind of administrative stuff that we need. We do a party every year that’s a rite-of-passage kind of thing for the guys—she’s right involved in that. I could on and on and on with the other things. What she’s saying to me is, “David, if you find some things that you think God wants you to do, you know I’m going to be here with you.”
Dennis: Okay, let’s go to the other side of the prayer. Men are praying over their wives, “I want to hear her, cherish her, and serve her.” The word, “cherish,” in Ephesians, Chapter 5, means to “warm up,”—it means to kind of nurture it so that it’s pliable and it’s ready to grow. How have you prayed this over your wife, and then cherished her, and warmed her up?
David: Well, I think this gets at what we would talk about a woman’s greatest need. Again, there are many ways to talk about these things. Some would say, “Security”; and another word might be “intimacy.” I think cherishing definitely creates that feeling of intimacy—that they’re valuable / that they’re loved—that there’s that security that we’ve talked about earlier.
I think, with Ruthie, a lot of it gets back to the communication that we talked about—hearing her—demonstrating an interest in her, as a person. One of the things that God has done—really through this prayer and other things in my life in the last five or six years—
—has helped me understand that I have a role in ministry / in my love for her to help her become everything that God wants her to be.
And so, it’s not just loving her so we don’t have arguments in the home, or that we get along together, or whatever; but there’s a goal here, much like the Scriptures say, “Christ loved the church.” So, I’m thinking: “How can I help Ruthie grow? What can I do? How can I contribute to that? What does she need to hear from me? What opportunities should she pursue? How can I show her that I cherish her and love her so that she has the freedom to grow into the person that God wants her to be?”
Bob: One of the things that we do at our Weekend to Remember—I hate to keep bringing this up—but it just fits, hand in glove, with what you’ve written here, in The Marriage Prayer. We give couples an opportunity, at the end of the conference, to restate their vows to one another. For many of them, it’s more meaningful than the first time they shared their vows because the first time they didn’t what they were getting themselves into and, now, they know. They will look one another in the eye and say, “…for better, for worse…”—you’ve had a little bit of that under your belt.
I was speaking at one of these conferences, not long ago. At the end of it, a couple came up to me; and the wife was a little put out. She said, “I was upset in these vows that you had us say because for the husbands, you had them say, ‘cherish,’ for the wives, you had us say, ‘support’”—or—“‘submit,’”—I forget which one it was. She said, “Those don’t feel like equivalent terms to me.” She said, “It feels like I am promising something bigger and more sacrificial than cherish.”
I looked at her and I said, “What do you think of when you think of the word, ‘cherish’? What does that unpack?” The more we talked about it, tears started to come into her eyes. She started to well up; and she said, “You know, maybe the reason I haven’t seen it as significant is because I don’t know that I’ve ever felt cherished in my life.”
David: Wow. Yes.
Bob: She wasn’t really pointing at her husband and saying, “He’s a lousy guy,” / she’s just saying, “I’ve never felt valued.”
Bob: “I’ve always felt like,”—as we talked about it, she’s always felt like her worth was only valued if she performed a particular way.
Bob: To hear what we were talking about—this idea that you are valuable just for who you are—cherished, prized, important, set apart—“I pick you to be the one to cherish and lavish that on,”—by the time it was done, she felt a little different about saying, “He’s promised to cherish me—that’s a big deal.” I think we can throw that around kind of flippantly; but to say, “I will cherish someone,” is really a setting apart above all others. It’s a statement of worth and nobility.
David: It is, and it is above self.
You get into that sacrifice—that sacrificial love that Christ calls us to, as husbands / and I believe—and wives as well—that we would lay down our lives for our spouse because to cherish someone means that you’re going to think about them before you think about yourself.
Dennis: Yes. A part of what you write about in your book is a piece of this is romance. When men hear that word, they immediately think of sex. When a woman hears the word, she goes back to the word you used earlier—which is intimacy / they’re looking for relationship.
What a husband needs to realize, as he prays this over his wife / as he does cherish her—if he wants to romance her, he needs to find a way to meet her on a romantic playing field that meets her needs—for intimacy, for time together, for conversation—which doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us, as men, and lay aside what he’d like to think romance is—and meet her needs, as a wife, and as his friend, and partner in life.
David: I think it’s interesting because—in the area of romance, and the area of sexuality, and so many of these places—the paradox of the gospel that Jesus talks about—where He says, “If you try to save your life, you’re going to lose it; but if you lose your life for My sake, then you’ll find it again,”—it lives itself out in our marriages in such incredible ways if you start looking for it.
When you start having an other-person focus rather than a self-focus, it is amazing to see how God begins to use that in an area of romance, or an area of communication, or in an area of sexuality. When we really focus on the other person, at some point, most of us begin to experience this blessing back that is so much greater than what we would’ve gotten had we been focused on ourselves.
Bob: Well, and if I’m using your marriage prayer—your 68 words—and every day, I am praying, “I want to hear her,” guess what? That’s going to cause me to stop and think:
“Okay, I need to hear her today. I want to cherish her: ‘How do I demonstrate that? How can I show her that she’s valued?’ And, I want to serve her.” That really is that inverse kind of thing—that’s that Philippians 2, “Consider one another as more important than yourself.” If that’s in place in a marriage, that’s going to take care of 95 percent of the conflict issues that are going to come up.
Dennis: Yes. It occurs to me that there may have been a listener, who tuned in a little bit later, here on FamilyLife Today. You weren’t quite sure what we were talking about—a marriage prayer. What David has done, along with Patrick Morley, is put together a prayer that he encourages a husband to pray over his wife and a wife to pray with her husband on a daily basis. You actually make a promise or some allusion in here—that, if they’ll do this for—how many days?
David: We try to get people started for 21 days because we want to take folks that—you may be listening, and you may have never prayed for your spouse before. It only takes about 90 seconds / 2 minutes.
You can do this every day. You can print out a copy of the prayer—put it on your mirror, put it on your steering wheel, put it on your computer—somewhere that you’ll see it every day—and begin that journey of praying for your spouse.
Dennis: You don’t always have to do it with your spouse—although, I’d recommend maybe for the first 20 days—[Laughter]
David: I like it!
Dennis: —that you pray out loud with your spouse and pray these words. As we’ve said, repeatedly, on these broadcasts: “It’s not the words of the prayer that matter. It’s that the words are a reflection of a heart attitude.” So, when you pray the prayer: “I said, ‘Till death do us part;’—I want to mean that.” That really is the attitude of that prayer.
David, I want to thank you for your work on your book—and what you and Patrick have done—and also for your work with the ministry, Man in the Mirror, with churches all over the country.
We’ve got to strengthen, and equip, and do a better job of helping men fulfill their assignments in the home, in business, and in the culture because, frankly, a lot of the ills of our nation right now go back to a lack of male leadership. I just want to express my appreciation to you for all that you guys are doing.
David: Thank you so much. It’s great to be here. I love the emphasis on the family and the role that it has, and it’s just a pleasure and an honor to be with you today.
Bob: And we love your emphasis on prayer and encouraging couples to pray together. Obviously, that’s something that we feel passionately about as well. We’ve got this 30- Day Oneness Prayer Challenge that’s going on right now. I’d encourage listeners—if they’re not signed up for it yet, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” You can sign up to have a text message or an email sent to you each day with a prayer prompt that will give you step-by-step guidance on how you can pray together, as a couple, on that particular day.
Of course, we’ve got copies of that prayer we’ve talked about with you this week—
—the marriage prayer that is at the heart of the book that you’ve written called The Marriage Prayer. If our listeners are interested in getting the prayer as a download or if they’d like a copy of your book—again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER.” You can order David’s book, The Marriage Prayer, or you can download the prayer we’ve talked about this week and have that available as a pattern for praying together in your marriage each day.
Then I want to finally remind folks that this is the last week we’re making available a special offer for our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways that we’re hosting this fall. We’ve got about 30 of these events happening in cities all across the country. If you sign up this week, you pay the regular rate for yourself; and your spouse comes at no additional cost. If you want to take advantage of that special offer, we need to hear from this week. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” and find out more about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
Of course, we want to give a shout-out today to those of you who make FamilyLife Today possible. We are listener-supported. The cost that is associated with producing and syndicating this daily radio program is covered by folks, like you, who will, occasionally, make a contribution in support of this ministry or those of you who, each month, provide financial support for us. We appreciate your partnership with us.
We’d like to say, “Thank you for your support today,” if you can help with a donation. We will send you the 2016 FamilyLife calendar. The focus of the calendar this year is prayer. This gives you an opportunity, each month, to pray together, as a family—kind of directs your thinking and your praying together each month. It’s our thank-you gift when you support the ministry today with a donation.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I Care.” You can make an online donation that way; or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, then the word, “TODAY.”
That’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800-FL-TODAY. Just mention that you would like the prayer calendar when you call to make a donation.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about how we can pray together with God’s Word at the center of our prayers. Sam Ingrassia is going to join us. We’ll talk about husbands leading their wives in prayer and how he began this practice in his own marriage. Hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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