The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ (Genesis 2:18).
My mom had two “must haves” when she was looking for a spouse: a man who loved the Lord and who was a farmer. She found both things in my dad when they married 37 years ago. Together they raised seven children on a turkey farm in southwest Minnesota. But then poultry cholera hit. Turkeys were dying by the dozens; the business was struggling. So my dad researched other income options and decided to build a 44-room hotel on the Mississippi River in Wisconsin.
As my dad continued to learn the ropes of hotel ownership, I remember my mom talking a lot about “following her husband” into this new career path. It irritated me. C’mon, Mom, I thought. Your kids are grown. You have a master’s in Christian education. Why don’t you start pursuing something you’ve always dreamed of? But she didn’t. She brought her talents and creativity into her husband’s career change.
“Helping” will look a variety of different ways in a marriage. As I talked to more of my married friends about how they help their husbands, their responses were humbling:
- When he has a dream, I help him accomplish it. I’m the detail/planner/organizer to match his muscle/provider/go-out-and-do-it.
- When I became a stay-at-home mom, I took over the monthly budget and the “business” details of running the home. I take care of those things during the day so that my husband doesn’t have to worry about doing more “work” after he gets home from work.
- Since my husband travels so much, I make it a point to fold and pack his clothes, and have fresh sheets on the bed when he gets home.
- I compliment him when out with people. Respect him more than anyone else. Build him up in any way I can. I’m his biggest supporter and make home a place of comfort for him.
- Trusting his leadership is helping. If I don’t trust his leadership, he can’t lead and I’m not helping.
Most days the idea of baking cookies for another person, folding laundry for another person or shopping for toothpaste for another person really excites me. Susie Homemaker is a title I’d love to have, and I hope to do the job well one day. Yet part of me also thinks, Helper? Really? Couldn’t a 12 year old be someone’s helper? I feel a tension between my desire and ability to manage a home with the career qualifications shown on my résumé.
The good news is rather than chucking one for the other, once a woman marries, she has a great opportunity and responsibility to bring all of her experience, education, skills, personality traits and giftings to the table for the benefit of her husband and family — and by extension, many others.
We can debate a long time about the how-to’s of being a helper, but let’s not lose sight of what the Bible says: God created man first; it was not good for the man to be alone; God created a woman to be his suitable helper.
In our girl-power, you-can-do-anything-you-set-your-mind-to world, this set-up God invented can feel offensive. Our sinful nature resists the idea of being a helper. As a single woman, I sometimes fear the loss of independence it requires. Yet the woman as helper is part of God’s design for the family.
By the way, that hotel my parents opened 13 years ago won Property of the Year at the annual AmericInn convention this year. My dad will tell you that it was largely because of my mom’s creativity, competitive nature and “women’s intuition” that enabled them to receive that award. And by God’s grace, the property continues to be profitable all these years later.