The Woman’s Role in a Faithful Marriage

Welcome to our month of emphasis on faithfulness. This is one of the qualities God emphasized when describing His own character in Exodus 34:6. We are also instructed to be faithful with all God has entrusted to us (1 Corinthians 4:1–2, Galatians 5:22–25, 1 Peter 4:10). If you’re married, part of what God has entrusted to you is your spouse.

When people speak about remaining faithful to their spouses, they often mean it sexually. But faithfulness in marriage is far bigger. Faithfully managing our marriages means fulfilling God’s purposes for our marriages. For Christian women, this means being a suitable helper to our husbands (Genesis 2:18). For men, this means giving the marriage priority over other relationships (Genesis 2:24). These concepts are also repeated in Ephesians 5:22–33, where husbands are instructed to lovingly lead their wives, and wives are instructed to respectfully submit to their husbands’ leadership.

Since I am a woman, I’m going to focus on the woman’s role. But, men, please don’t tune out. This post is for you, too. A natural question when considering the woman’s role in marriage is, “What does it mean to be a helper?” Does this mean we can’t have dreams and goals of our own? That we shouldn’t have an identity apart from our husbands? We can’t be faithful to God’s purpose for our marriages if we don’t first understand what that purpose is. I looked at other contexts where this word is used. Moses applies it to God when describing how God saved his life from the vengeance of Pharaoh (Exodus 18:4). The psalmist calls God our help and shield in Psalm 33:20. And again the term applies to God in Psalm 70:5. In Psalm 124:8, David uses the term to describe God’s help against David’s enemies. In Deuteronomy 33:26, God the Helper is pictured riding on the heavens to rescue His people. The word is used often to describe battle situations. It’s combined with images of swords and shields. It’s used of the God who saves and rescues. When I became a wife, I accepted the high calling of being my husband’s partner in battle.

What is the battle? Ephesians 6:10–18 says all Christians struggle against the spiritual forces of evil. The armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation protects us. And our weapons are the Bible and prayer. If I am hindering my husband from putting on his armor, I’m leaving him exposed. And if I fail to pray for my husband, I’m also leaving him exposed. This is not a war we can opt out of, women. And men, this is not a war you can fight on your own. Tell your wife how she can pray effectively for you. Another battle countless men have fought throughout history is to provide for their families. The curse of sin brought pain to work (Genesis 3:17–19). Even the men I know who really enjoy their jobs have days and situations where their jobs become burdens. For some wives, being a helper means taking up a job outside the home. For some wives, it means taking care of the home and children full time. For some, it’s working in a husband’s business. For many women, it’s different at different seasons of life. Not every man walks the same path. Not every man has the same frustrations. Not every man has the exact same needs. Being faithful to our calling as wives, therefore, doesn’t look exactly the same for each woman. Instead of fighting amongst ourselves about whether a Christian woman should work inside or outside the home, why don’t we spend more time praying for our spouses? Why don’t we give our energy to supporting our families in the way that’s best for them? And why don’t we applaud any Christian sister who is serving God and loving her family in the best way she can? Women, how do you feel about being your husband’s faithful partner in battle? Have you ever thought of the helper role in that way? Men, what other battles are you fighting? How can wives be better battle partners?