There has been plenty of scoffing, snorting, eye-rolling, and outright anger in the last few decades at that tricky little word in Genesis, the one God uses to describe Adam’s new wife – “Helper.” “It’s demeaning,” some might say. The good little wife consigning women to servitude forever.

But did you know that the Hebrew word for helper, ezer, is actually used in the rest of the Old Testament to mean a military ally—or even God Himself? I love this mental picture, of this wife in the trenches with her husband. (Is that because I have three boys?) Or maybe it’s that Top Gun image in my mind, of that all-essential wingman. (Talk to me, Goose.)

Point is, when I envision “helper,” I’m not exactly wearing a ruffly apron, hoisting a Jell-O salad in one hand and effortlessly sliding a vacuum cleaner with the other.

Sure, a lot of times being a helper means domestic attentiveness, creating that “prepared place” for our families to thrive and be nurtured and be emotionally, spiritually, and physically embraced—like God does for us! But there are other ways, too, in which we can be our husband’s shield, his teammate, and partner.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. When he’s talking about challenging stuff in his life, listen well. Show compassion, but not in a way that would encourage him to further anger and division with others. Just as if you were talking to a frustrated, married friend, remember, in the end—your friend still has to go home to her husband and be married to him. Don’t encourage him to break or fake peace, but problem-solve with him for real solutions.
  2. Think about what’s weighing over your husband’s head. In what ways could you relieve the pressure he’s feeling? Is there a project you could handle for him—not in a way that would be defeating for him or encouraging passivity, but only empowering? We see an example of this in the Proverbs 31 woman.
  3. Relentlessly abolish nagging. Does your husband see you as being in his corner, no matter how much he fails (again, without encouraging passivity on his part)?
  4. You are your husband’s greatest warrior in prayer. Pray specifically, fervently, and frequently about what concerns him…and even those issues you’re not quite sure how to talk with him about yet.
  5. Have fun being a source of life for him. Go for that surprise date night, that unexpected massage at bedtime, his favorite snack brought home, that creativity in the bedroom. For more ideas, click here.
  6. Without being domineering, help him to be an advocate to set wise boundaries on his time, energy, and resources.
  7. When the time is right, suggest practical ways to help him connect with his kids (“Would you be interested in taking our daughter on a date night sometime soon?”) or with others. Use your strengths and other relational know-how to be a connecting “glue” of sorts that adds grace and intentionality to his relationships.
  8. Be purposeful in encouraging him truthfully and specifically, in a way that causes him to trust your words. For ideas, click here.
  9. Initiate meaningful lovemaking. Feeling connected with you physically is a great way to affirm him and protect him and your marriage.
  10. Be tenacious about your faith in what God’s doing in your husband. Remember: Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. He’s faithful to complete the good work He’s begun (Philippians 1:6). Don’t be tempted to act out of fear regarding what your husband is not (which may include, but is not limited to, nagging, worrying, tallying his faults, growing bitter, and overcompensating for his weaknesses). Instead, continue to run to God, hiding in Him, forgiving your husband and receiving personal forgiveness from God, and having your deepest needs met there. God’s timing and work are perfect.