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The Challenge That Could Change Your Marriage

Sheri and Chad both have naturally strong personalities that occasionally “led to much conflict in our marriage, as we each tried to figure out love, life and parenting in the last 27 years.” It got so difficult at one point that Sheri began asking God if she could be released from her marriage vows, but Chad “bent his knee to Jesus, and began to make incredible strides in allowing his heart and his approach to life and me be softened and changed.”

Sheri asked Chad to read Sacred Marriage and Cherish. The response was more than she had hoped for. “These are the FIRST marriage books Chad has willingly read and WOW, have they brought even more beautiful changes to this man I so deeply love!”

Sheri and Chad’s testimony is particularly encouraging because it demonstrates how a seemingly unbearable marriage really can change to become a source of joy and delight.

On a recent weekend, some friends needed some help and Chad made the decision on his own to help them, though it would require a good bit of travel on his and Sheri’s part. He came home at six in the evening and told Sheri to get dressed. She was in “relaxed” attire for a Saturday at home and really didn’t feel like driving an hour away on a moment’s notice.

“You need to understand that I am NOT a spontaneous person…at ALL!!!!” Sheri wrote on her Facebook page. “Chad would do everything in life flying by the seat of his pants. I have almost every moment of the day planned. Living together has stretched us…Chad knows that I plan and I try…try…to not vomit when he wants to be spontaneous.”

But “going along to get along,” Sheri got dressed without any argument. As she walked down the stairs, though, Chad paused and asked, “Sheri, am I meeting your needs best by demanding that we go to Red Lodge right now, or would it be best for you if we stay home? Do you want me to ask our friends if they are comfortable going on their own?”

Sheri’s mind practically exploded: “WOAH!!! What just happened??!!! In twenty-seven years of marriage, I am not sure if that has ever happened! Chad wanted to do something, insisted that we do something, but then he stopped and sincerely asked what would be best for me!” Sheri says that Chad has always been considerate of her, but when they were on opposite sides, he usually won.

“Chad and I talked about this later that night, after we had made sure our friends were happily settled in the cabin in Red Lodge, I told him how deeply this small act impacted my heart. I know Chad loves me. I know he will protect me with his very life. He has learned to lovingly serve me and we have a beautiful life together. What this ONE thing did, however, was show me that he is willing to put a pause on what he wants and be intentionally considerate towards me. Wow! Just WOW!”

“I didn’t know that I could fall in love with him more, but those words coming from his mouth Saturday night did just that…they caused me to fall a little more deeply in love with my man. My heart is safe with this man and I am grateful that he continues to grow and mature in his faith and his demonstrated love for me.”

I’ve said many times in conferences that applying a few of these principles really can change a marriage. Even though you’re married to the same person, you can experience an entirely new relationship. Sheri wrote, “Read Sacred Marriage and Cherish, my friends. Chad says that those books are WHY he asked that question and changed his perspective on Saturday night. They are powerful and life-changing. I know, because my husband is changing day-by-day since reading them. And it is beautiful!”

Testimonies like these make us even more eager to get the word out about the message behind Cherish because we’ve seen it work, time and time again. That’s why, this month, we are unleashing the “cherish challenge” that will run through the summer. Our hope is that hundreds of couples will want to stand up and say, “If such a marriage is possible, I want to experience it.” Our goal is to run a nationwide (and even worldwide since this blog has many readers outside the U.S.) campaign to spend this summer learning together how to cherish our spouses.

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We’ll offer weekly testimonies and encouragement, so we’re also asking for your help. With each round, we encourage you to send a picture or a very short testimony of the difference learning how to cherish your spouse has made in your marriage based on the aspect of cherishing we’re presenting that week. Let’s encourage each other, let’s inspire each other, let’s raise the bar together. Chad making just a few small changes brought such joy to Sheri; imagine the amount of joy we can release in homes all over the world.  

For those who choose to take part, at the end of the summer (Labor Day weekend), we’ll randomly draw out of all participants for the following individual prizes:

  • A $300 visa card for dinner and a night at the hotel of your choice for one couple
  • A collection of all Zondervan books published by Gary for one couple
  • A video curriculum and study guide of Cherish for you and your spouse or your small group
  • A forty-five-minute zoom conversation with Gary and Lisa. You can use this as a couple or save it for a group of friends
  • Three couples will get a signed copy of Gary’s Sacred Marriage Gift Edition

While we welcome couples from all over the world to join us in submitting photos and testimonies, only couples in the United States and Canada are eligible to receive the book prizes or the Visa card gift.

All you have to do to enter is click here, Cherish Challenge 2020.  You’ll begin receiving weekly emails with tips, suggestions, and testimonies from other couples. I’m excited for every couple that takes up this challenge. It’s one thing to read a book or attend a weekend marriage conference; it’s another thing entirely to spend a summer thoughtfully applying the lessons from this book and being inspired by couples all over the world. That’s the kind of endeavor that could actually change the course of your marriage.

Men, what if one thousand of you went to your wives and said, “I want to spend this summer learning (or re-learning) how to cherish you?” Women, what if your husbands, who may occasionally feel taken for granted, hear you suggest, “Hey, let’s spend this summer learning how to cherish each other? You’ve been a great husband and I want to learn how to help you feel cherished by the Fall.”

There’s no cost to do the challenge together, other than what you choose to spend on each other. We just thought it would be fun to have couples do this across the world and read inspiring stories about how other couples are choosing to live out the message of cherishing their spouses. Let’s seek to raise the level of affection in our marriages. Let’s seek out the higher aspects of love to learn together what it means to create a cherishing marriage.

If you want to begin today, check out Cherish Challenge 2020. You’ll get all the information you need in response. And then check into this blog weekly for that week’s encouragement and challenge.

And please, forward this blog to any other couples you think might benefit from a boost in their marriage this summer. Even better, offer to do this challenge with them, as a small group or with two couples who want to encourage each other.

Let the cherishing begin!

P.S.: Just to be safe, my agents want me to add the “lawyer language” before I let you go: “By submitting your photo, you hereby consent to the use of it by Gary Thomas for any and all purposes. You also consent to receiving future promotional material from Gary Thomas.” The “future promotional material” simply means you’ll be added to our email list, which you can unsubscribe from at any time.