There are so many things we are supposed to be in our marriage. A lover, a protector, a shoulder to cry on, a provider, and maybe a creator of fun from time to time are just a few, but there is one word that describes how the need for a spouse came to be in the first place.
It’s the word “helper.” In Genesis 2:18, it says, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Helper. This is not a servant, a waitress, a housecleaner, a mistress, or an administrative assistant. It is not an expectation that only one spouse should be a helper. The expectation is being a helper for each other. Here are a few ways to view the helper perspective.
THE HELPER JOINS THE TASK
Being a helper does not necessarily imply shift work. For him, it would be easy to think that now that you have married her, you no longer need to cook or clean. She will take care of all of that. You have added to your life someone who will now take that responsibility off of your hands. That would be incorrect thinking and will only lead to unfulfilled expectations. Being a helper is to join the tasks. Being married means you have doubled the laundry, doubled the dishes, and doubled the trash. Having a spouse means you have someone to help achieve the agreed upon standards of life. Each task that must be accomplished, whether it’s bringing home a paycheck, cleaning the house, or mowing the lawn, will have one spouse who is seen as the one primarily taking care of that task while the other will join them. Being married means doubling the work and halving the responsibility. Marriage is to be done together, and that is what it means to be a helper. It means jumping in to their area of doing in order to lighten their load.
THE HELPER IS NOT IN COMPETITION
For many, being a helper is not a natural reaction. Some want to be in charge most, if not all, of the time, or maybe it is an ego issue. Some men do not like the idea of their wives making more money than them, and some women feel inferior if they do not have equally successful careers as their husbands. We will not get into gender roles here, but in every marriage, there is a point of contention when balancing self-worth and value against being the helper for your spouse. It’s important to understand where your ego gets in the way of a healthy marriage. It’s also critical where you need to communicate your need to be valued in the relationship.
“Your ego can put you at odds with your spouse if it causes you to view your spouse as holding you back.”
Being a helper goes two ways and should be a source of encouragement to help both spouses succeed in the areas that give them value. When one feels their dreams and goals have to be sacrificed for the other, then a balance of helping each other has not been achieved.
THE HELPER IS VULNERABLE
To be a helper means you are being a giver. On occasion, the helper will feel used. This is a critical understanding that both spouses must have. To help someone without being self-serving is to truly give without receiving. In our marriage, we expect that our efforts of giving will be reciprocated somewhere down the line. It’s in these moments of unfulfilled expectations of return that we feel used, less valued, and even lonely. All give and no get is a tough place to be for long. Communication is key. Let your spouse know if you feel this way, and in return, be a spouse that can hear that from your partner without dismissing them or brushing off their feelings. They are taking a position of vulnerability in their giving and then their sharing. This should be rewarded with listening, affirming, and understanding of how you can work together on making your marriage better. We need each other. We need a helper. When we fail to recognize the mutual need, we will grow apart, but if we become the helper as much as possible, we can grow together more and more.