So What Exactly Does It Mean to Be Your Husband’s “Helper”?

So What Exactly Does It Mean to Be Your Husband's Helper

Lately I’ve been reflecting on a largely unremarkable, yet poignant scene a photographer friend of mine witnessed as she snapped photos of a rather illustrious couple.

As she offered directions in a brief moment during the shoot, the husband became momentarily confused as to what to do.

At that same instant my friend noticed the slight pressure of the wife’s hand on her husband’s back, guiding him into the next steps fluidly.

In that moment of grace, the man lost no dignity in not knowing what to do, thanks to his wife.

She was silently, and wonderfully, his teammate and ally.

One might even say that in this situation, she respectfully led her husband.

Barbara Rainey

Due to a project at work lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole idea about Eve’s creation as Adam’s “helper.”

It’s a delicate subject, this one.

Sometimes I’ve received some rather blistering thoughts from constituents on this topic—often because “helper” is seen as a demotion of women as inferior, or as propagating abuse. But these implications are against all we stand for: the intrinsic value of women and their critical, life-giving role, without which Adam’s situation was declared “not good.”

Sometimes the desire not to step on toes can cause us as Christians to dial back the breathtaking design idea fashioned into each woman as God crafted her.

You may have heard before that this term of “helper”, the Hebrew word ezer, elsewhere in the Bible refers both to the Holy Spirit of God Himself, and to military allies.

The concept is not for the faint of heart.

Rather, it is endowed with innate strength.

Acting as wingman is never a demotion.  Neither is the Holy Spirit less than the Father or Son. His leading of us, of me, is always gentle yet also with pure truth.  His guidance of me is always with my needs in mind.

Eve was “fashioned” for Adam—in that way, I suppose their union and likewise any married couple is not unlike a 3-D puzzle.

I see it in my own marriage, and my husband would be one of the first to tell you: I excel at design while he tops me any day of the week in finances.  Yet even these two descriptors are not thoroughly helpful because Dennis does have a good sense of design and though spreadsheets give me a headache I am not completely inept with numbers.

There are ways every wife distinctly and uniquely complements her own husband.

And of course, he’ll offer his fortes to complement her areas of lesser strength as well.

In some ways, through “helping”, we’ll actually be gently, graciously leading. Abigail and Esther are both shimmering examples of women who wisely, shrewdly, and respectfully “led”—saving untold lives through their astute courage and foresight.

Any coach worth his salt will tell you that’s what a team is all about: not domination, superiority, or self-service, but on moving fluently with what each player brings to the team, toward your common goal.

Each member maximizing his or her gifts in their position makes for a winning game.…Or photo shoot.

And it’s one of the nuances often found in the team of two called marriage.



Barbara RaineyBarbara Rainey, wife of 42 years. Empty nester to 6 kids and 22 grandkids. Cofounder of FamilyLife. Creator of Ever Thine Home. Author & artist. Inspires women to see mundane moments as sacred and meaningful. Still in awe at being loved by God.

You can learn more about EverThineHome HERE. And follow Barbara & EverThineHome on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Creating a Romantic Refuge in Your Very Own Home

*The above photo of the former governor and wife is with special thanks to the talented Nancy Nolan Photography

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4 Kinds of Talk that Will Save Your Marriage

4 Talks to Save Your Marriage

We’re skipping church because we’ve been gone all weekend.

We’re watching it instead, online, Pastor Mark Hughes’ Church of the Rock, and we’re watching a sermon on marriage on separate couches, while our boys climb all over us. Trent and I look at each other across the room and sigh, roll our eyes and there’s a splash of sunlight on the floor, falling from the sky. Just a splash but it’s enough to make the room feel warmer.

Marriage is hard with kids, and it’s hard without kids too. It’s just plain hard.

Not because of anything except that you are two sinful people with different ways of communicating, different ways of seeing and perceiving the world and suddenly you’re apparently one body and not only that, you’re expected to raise two very impressionable young children while being consistently “on the same page”.

And you try to have date night which basically means sitting on the couch with your feet up watching something funny because you can’t handle serious after the kind of day you had and suddenly the boys are yelling at you from bed because they want more water or another song or they’re hungry.

And you do that thing where you look at each other and even though you’re side by side you feel miles apart.

“Who are you?” you ask, not only to the person in front of you but to the person that you are, because you forget. You forget what makes you laugh. You forget what you used to do when you had free time, you forget what romance is because you’re so tired when you fall into bed it’s all you can do turn out the light before you’re snoring.

But I want more.

Making It Home By Emily Wierenga1

I know, my kids are 6 months and four and five and a half and we’re both neck deep in our careers and yet, I don’t want to lose “us” before the children are out of the house and suddenly we don’t know what to talk about anymore.

But more than that, I want to have the kind of marriage that makes my kids want to get married.

They say that your eyes should light up every time your son or daughter walks into the room. I think we should aim just as high when our spouse walks into the room.

But it’s not just about the eyes lighting up. It’s about talking to your other half–really, truly talking. According to Pastor Mark Hughes of Church of the Rock–the program we were watching on separate couches while our boys tugged on our hair and flipped across our laps, there are 4 kinds of talk that will save a marriage.

  1. Small Talk: You know, the kind in which you discuss the weather, the day, How was work honey, Did you get the mail like I asked you to, Why didn’t you get the mail like I asked you to?! Yeah,  that kind of talk.
  2. Sweet Talk: Trent and I call each other Babes, but that’s about the extent of our sweet talk, so we realized we needed to work on that. So I told him one night that I liked his butt. He told me he liked mine too. It’s a start.
  3. Serious Talk: This is when you discuss a heightened version of Small talk, concerning more crucial topics, like health, finances, relationships, careers. People often think they’re having an intimate talk if it’s about something serious, but in fact, it’s not. Yet it’s still important to do.
  4. Soul Talk: This is the most intimate version of communication. This is where you ask each other a “soul” question, like “What are you afraid of?” or “If you could accomplish one thing with your life, what would it be?”

So Trent and I have started soul-talking. Because we’ve realized we’ve been living mostly off of small talk, serious talk and a crush on each other’s butts. But our marriage was feeling flat because there was no soul.

You gotta have soul.

So set aside one night a week where you ask each other a question. Put the kids to bed early, pop some corn, pour each other a glass of bubbly and sit out on the deck.

It’s worth it to one day have the kind of marriage that makes our kids say, “Hey–I want one of those!”


Friends, I’m celebrating the release of my new memoir today, Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose.

Making It Home By Emily Wierenga2

What does it mean to be a woman and to make a home? Does it mean homeschooling children or going to the office every day? Cooking gourmet meals and making Pinterest-worthy home décor? In Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose, author and blogger Emily Wierenga takes readers on an unconventional journey through marriage, miscarriage, foster parenting and the daily struggle of longing to be known, inviting them into a quest for identity in the midst of life’s daily interruptions.

Get your copy HERE. Proceeds benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree.


Get FREE downloadable chapters from Making It Home HERE.


Making It Home by Emily Wierenga

Sign up for the FREE Making It Home webcast featuring Liz Curtis Higgs, Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee and Jo Ann Fore (with Emily Wierenga as host), 8 pm CT on September 10, 2015, HERE. Once you sign up you’ll be automatically entered for a giveaway of each of the author’s books!

Emily Wierenga Bio Picture

Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, columnist, artist, author, founder of The Lulu Tree and blogger at Her work has appeared in many publications, including Relevant, Charisma, Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, Dayspring’s (in)courage and Focus on the Family. She is the author of six books including the travel memoir Atlas Girl and speaks regularly about her journey with anorexia. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Trenton, and their children. For more info, please visit Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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Sometimes Love in Marriage Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

Sometimes Love Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

How can one jar of peanut-butter cause so much trouble?

No kidding, that’s what I wanted to know too.

Because apparently it was A Big Problem and he made that quite clear.

My husband was fed up with the sticky, slimy mess dripping down the sides of the peanut-butter jar and insisted we put a stop to the madness.

“Why can’t we keep this jar clean?! There’s no reason we should live like this and it’s driving me nuts!” He didn’t yell, but I could tell by his tone that he really meant it.

Oh, but there was a very good reason as far as I was concerned and protested against his somewhat ridiculous request.

Actually, there were eight good reasons. You see we have these things called children and one mother can’t be on top of everything!

Why so unreasonable? So demanding?

Now on his behalf, I have to tell you that my husband is not a complainer.

He doesn’t make negative remarks about my cooking. He doesn’t complain about having to throw on his robe in the morning and search for the essential items in the laundry room (oops! meant to fold and put those away…). He’s even good about patiently sitting in the car and waiting for me to get out the door. And that can be a pretty long wait sometimes.

But the goopy peanut-butter container? That just about does him in.

So how many of you moms can I count on to side with me on this one?

I mean, we have a bunch of kids and they all make their own peanut-butter sandwiches. Even the three young boys. Let’s face it – it’s a sticky, slimy world we live in.

And I basically communicated to him . . . .

Sorry. But that’s just the way it has to be. 

That we were going to have to learn to live with it. That he was asking the impossible. And I left him in the kitchen feeling quite justified in my defensive and huffy response.

Except for one thing . . . . 

Sometimes Love Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

Epiphany in the Parlor

I left the kitchen to recover and regroup in our front sitting room – our “parlor” as we call it and my very favorite room in the house.

It’s a special place.

The Parlor has pretty pillows, a tea tray, and a clear glass (yes, that would be GLASS) coffee table.

The kids are not allowed to eat in this room.

Or have their electronic gadgets.

No Legos, dirty socks, or rollerblades are permitted in the Parlor. Happy sigh.

I love this room.

Now wait! Are you beginning to wonder how it is that I can keep an entire room looking pristine even though we have all these children? With a glass coffee table, no less??

Well. It’s because it’s important to me, of course. Really important.

But I can’t keep the peanut-butter jar wiped down?


Yeah, that’s the question that got to me too.

You see, I have this tendency to take my priorities very seriously. And this room is one of those.

Not only that, but when the rest of my family do their best to keep it the way I like it?

It makes me happy.

I feel respected.

Maybe even loved.

I know. It’s a small thing. So maybe you don’t see why it’s a big deal to me.

But it kinda is.

If at all possible.

So maybe I don’t understand why all the fuss over the sloppy peanut-butter jar.

But if it’s important to him?

Makes him happy?

Feel respected?

Maybe even loved…?

Then I can do this small thing.

In fact, I’m determined to have the cleanest peanut-butter jar in town.

And if you ever find yourself anywhere near our area, I hope you’ll stop by ’cause I’d love to make you a peanut-butter sandwich. Or have that youngest son of ours make you one. He makes the best.

It’s true that you might have to step over a heaping pile of rollerblades on the front porch and overlook the baskets of clean laundry waiting to be folded in the living room.

But there should be a nice place for you to sit in the parlor.

And you’ll be sure to admire the amazingly spotless peanut-butter container, won’t you?

Because he sure does.

He likes it that way.

But better than that?

He loves me.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:4

In His grace,

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*Parlor photo is with thanks to Allison Harp
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For the Wife Who Feels Unloved: 3 Loving Steps to Take

For the Wife Who Feels Unloved:3 Loving Steps to Take

For 24 years, I have been happily married to a man who cherishes me. So when I write for Club31Women, I have the perspective of a healthy, fulfilling marriage.

Often I hear from readers, though, who say, “What about me?” There are many women who are struggling in marriage and who feel unloved and not cared for.

Let me start by saying I’m sorry, sister. I’m really sorry for your wounded heart and for the struggle you’re having.

Will you let me write to you from my experience as a pastor’s wife and also as the wife of a licensed professional counselor? My husband and I have known a long line of unhappy wives.

One thing I know is that you cannot change anything on your husband’s side of the relationship.

You can only control your side of things and exert influence through your own actions, so let me offer three steps you can take that have the potential to transform your marriage.

Three Loving Steps for the Wife Who Feels Unloved 

First, you must believe the gospel of Christ.

Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Christ can make people new, so pray that Christ will step into your husband’s life and make him a new person with a new heart that can love you. We cannot go inside our husband’s hearts and make him into a new person. Any wife who has tried to change her husband knows this is futile. Only Christ can change the heart of a man.

If you stop believing that your husband can change, that means you’ve stopped believing Christ has power to change people.

So wives must remain hopeful in Christ.

Second, settle in for the long haul and be willing to wait on the Lord.

Wait for the Lordbe strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)

How long will you have to wait before God works in your husband’s life? I have no idea. I know a friend who waited decades before her husband chose to follow Christ and their marriage started to improve.

Waiting requires a backbone of faith. You’ll have to be strong and take heart.

Imagine the silent message you are sending to your husband as you wait, though. You are quietly saying to him, “I will wait for good to happen in your life. I will wait for you to know the love of God. I will have patience while Christ works in your life.”

Third, you need to show respect for the man.

In Ephesians 5:33, Paul says, “The wife must respect her husband.”


This command is wonderfully separate from a woman’s emotions and also separate from a man’s actions. No matter how you feel and no matter how he acts, you are to show him respect. Have you been obedient to this command from Scripture?

Do you speak to him with respect? Do you talk about him to your friends with respect? Does your body language convey respect? Do you serve him with an attitude of respect?

It is possible that your purposeful actions of respect may well be the first step in his heart warming toward you.

So, if you’ve been unloved by your husband, turn to Christ and have hope. Take actions over which you have power, and live in faith that God will honor your efforts and take care of you in every way.

Christy Fitzwater

*Is there anything we can we pray for you, or encourage you? 

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Marriage 101: What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

Marriage 101 - What Every Married Couple Really Needs to Know

My husband is a licensed professional counselor and a pastor, so he performs a lot of premarital counseling for couples. I’m always giving him helpful advice about things he should discuss with engaged couples.

My newest idea is that he should add one hour of counseling just to talk about dirty socks.

First, he should look at the guy and say, “Do you intend to take your socks off and leave them in whatever place they drop?”

Then he should look at the girl and say, “When your guy leaves his dirty socks in whatever place he takes them off, perhaps even very close to but not actually in the laundry hamper, are you going to immediately assume he doesn’t love you?”

Because this is marriage 101.

I asked my husband, a professional counselor but also a sock-leaver-arounder, to tell us what guys are thinking about their socks when they take them off.

“I gotta get these off my feet,” he said. “Aaaaah, that feels better.”

“When you walk away from your socks,” I asked, “are you in any way making a statement about your wife’s value?”

“No,” he said.

Okay, so I’m a professional wife and also a sock-picker-upper, and I used to get my feelings hurt over those dirty socks. I would see them lying there and immediately think Matt didn’t care about me or surely he wouldn’t have left those for me to take care of.

But this is the man who once jumped between me and a Rottweiler that ran at me on a dark street one night.

This is the man who held me close, night after night, while I grieved my father’s death.

This is the man who looked at me in McDonald’s a few weeks ago and said, “You and me, babe. We’re the only ones in the world right now.” And I swooned like a middle school girl.

This man loves me. Ain’t no lie.

So here’s a truth from Scripture that young women need to hear, as part of their premarital counseling:

“…the devil…is a liar and the father of lies.”  (John 8:44 ESV)

The devil wants to destroy our marriages, and it works pretty well to whisper into a woman’s ear, “See those socks? He must not care about you.” And the woman who feels not cared for becomes resentful, and resentment can turn into deep-seated bitterness that will undermine the relationship.

We need to be prepared for the lies.

Marriage 101 - What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

He Loves Me

You know that game we played as young girls? We held the flower in our hands and plucked one petal at a time. He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not.

Well, the devil is going to try to get you to think, He loves me not. He loves me not. He loves me not.

So the next time you see those dirty socks on the floor, pretend you’re plucking one of those “fragrant” flower petals and choose to say, He loves me.

Take time to think of all the ways your guy shows that he cares about you. Remember how he brings in a paycheck so you have a roof over your head. Remember what he’s really good at doing for you.

Be thankful.

Lean into the truth.

Pray for him while you humbly and lovingly put his socks in the hamper.

Let’s give our guys some room to have imperfections, as well as some credit for their good intentions toward us.

~ Christy Fitzwater

*What is one way your man shows his love for you?
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A Dozen Things You Can Do to Keep Your Marriage Fresh & Fun

A Dozen Things to Keep Your Marriage Fresh and Fun

It’s not always a party around here.

Not that we don’t have a good time or that we don’t love each other.

Because, of course, we do.

But there are some seasons that are tougher than others.

We both have so much on our plates that we begin to feel weighed down by the pressures and bills and time-constraints. Health concerns and relational-challenges. It all just keeps coming at us and life doesn’t feel as fun as it used to be.

And so a general heaviness sets in.

But we can’t let that go on like this for too long because it’s not only “not fun”  – it’s not really right either. It’s not good for our health, not good for our family, and certainly not good for our relationship.

So something needs to change!

The funny thing is that the solution doesn’t have to be all that dramatic or expensive. It’s often those simple or relatively easy things that help revive our friendship and restore that spark.

A small investment with a big return.

Now in case you and yours ever find yourself in such a season? Here are some things that Matthew and I like to do when we’re stuck in a rut or are feeling the strain . . . .

A Dozen Things to Do to Keep Your Marriage Fresh & Fun

A Dozen Things to Keep Your Marriage Fresh and Fun

1.     Go for a walk in the fresh air.

When we’re crazy-busy and don’t have the time, or if we can’t get too far from the house, we will simply go for a walk. We might only walk up and down our long driveway, or possible wander out on the trails that go out into the desert behind our house. As long as we’re holding hands – sometimes talking and sometimes silent – we’re happy together.

2.     Try a new place to eat.

Now this might just be us, but we love finding some neat little place to eat! Some place that we’ve never tried before. He and I especially enjoy all kinds of ethnic food – Thai, Mediterranean, Indian, Vietnamese – you name it! Yum.

3.     Watch a funny or fascinating movie.

While watching movies isn’t usually my favorite thing to do, I’ll confess that it can be rather nice to “check out” and get a good laugh from a comedy, or temporarily disappear into another place or time in a well-done film. Just don’t tell our kids that I admitted, that okay? 😉

4.     Cook up something new that you’ve never tried before.

I don’t know why this is, but trying out a new recipe or cooking up something special can turn an ordinary evening into a celebration. Caramel popcorn, onion rings, guacamole al fresco—we’ve tried them all! Five stars.

5.     Invite old friends over that you haven’t seen for a while.

Do you know those longtime friends whom you just love . . . but never seem to get around to getting together? Call them up! Ask them over and order pizza. Then laugh over old times and get caught on on new happenings. We recently went out for Thai food with friends we’ve known since before we married. Talked about everything. Sweet for the soul!

6.     Make new friends by asking interesting people over.

This is more my husband’s strong point than mine, but I’m wanting to grow in this. When you’re going through a hard time, it can be difficult to reach out when you feel like you’re merely hanging on.  Yet we’ve found that it can be “just the thing” to lighten things up to focus on new people and new friendships.

For the Woman Who Is Simply Weary of Serving - The Super-Homemaker

7.     Throw a party.

Small party or big party – it doesn’t matter! Open up your doors and let the festivities begin. Yes, it can require a bit more work (when you’re already feeling over-worked), but the benefits of fun and fellowship make it all worthwhile.

8.     Tell him something you’ve never told him before.

Share a wonderful memory you have from your childhood. Tell him about that camping adventure or that silly experiment you tried. Maybe talk about your favorite book or biggest accomplishment. Then ask him about his too!

9.    Step outside the usual routine.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to be a “creature of habit.” I like my routine. A lot. But there are times that shaking things up and doing it totally different is just what’s needed! I might surprise him and suggest we watch a late-night movie (we’re usually in bed by 10pm) or challenge him to a boardgame together. Woohoo!

10.   Sneak away with only the two of you.

You have all kinds of reasons why you can’t. So many responsibilities, not enough time, and can’t afford it. I get it. I really do. But do it anyway. There is no better investment than in your marriage. Make it a priority, even if it’s not “screaming” at you in the way these other things are in your life.

11.    Lighten up with a good laugh.

I’m not sure I should tell you this, but the truth is that he and I are both big teases. He is worse than I am, but I find great satisfaction in catching him off-guard with a joke of my own now and then. We flirt, laugh, and play practical jokes on each other often. It’s one of our “secret” ingredients. :)

12.    Pray for one another.

When my eyes for him are clouded with the stress and strain of our situation, I ask God to give me “fresh eyes” for my husband. I pray that He will restore our love for each other and infuse new life in our relationship. He has always been faithful to answer that prayer.

So be sure and invest in your marriage. Don’t let the urgent and the heavy keep you from enjoying one another as God intended. Keep it fun and fresh.

Try one of these ways . . . or maybe all twelve!

In His grace,
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*What are some of the ways that you like to bring light and life into your marriage?

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