Marriage Roles

“The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:20-24

When we read about the first marriage in Genesis it appears that the role of the woman is somewhat diminished, just a “helper”. In reality the Hebrew word used for helper in this verse, the word ezer, is used just 21 times in the Old Testament. The context of this word denotes important and powerful acts of support. Elsewhere we find this word applied to God as “the One who helps His people”. Moses named one of his sons Eliezer, which means “My God is my helper”. God had powerfully delivered Moses from the Egyptians. God was not just a “helper”, He was the powerful, supreme rescuer of His people.

When applied to marriage, we see in the Bible that the relationship between husband and wife is one in which both man and woman have strengths they contribute to one another. Most couples, when they marry, don’t spend much time delineating exactly who will be in charge of what in the marriage. This is usually decided over time, as the strengths of each partner are revealed. Sometimes this is a series of arguments, or trial and error. But the reality is that a healthy marriage has the husband and wife both performing unique roles, and the role of the man and woman are equally important.

Genesis also says that because the woman and man are made from the same person and by the same Creator, they are one. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife…” There is no more important relationship on earth in marriage than the husband and wife have in each other. All other relationships—moms and dads, in-laws, children, friends—are secondary to this relationship. In some marriages there is a fight to “let go” of the influence of some of these other relationships in the marriage. It’s never healthy for mom or dad, or a friend, to have greater influence in the relationship than your spouse.

A sure way to find trouble in your marriage is to diminish the role of one partner, or to put any other relationship before your spouse. On both counts, the Bible is clear on what God’s design for marriage is: One man and one women, for each other, and first in all aspects, for life. Remind yourselves that you are a team. Whatever has happened in the past, good or bad, has brought you to this point. When you act together, for the mutual interest of each other, and putting your marriage relationship before all other earthly relationships, you’ll find that your marriage will grow stronger as you grow closer to and more trusting of each other.