I recently was reading the ideas of various women on the topic of what it means to be a biblical “helpmeet” to their husbands, and in particular, the idea of offering suggestions to one’s husband. The conversation swiftly moved in the direction that saddened me, and so I want to delicately and thoughtfully bring the topic to light here at Life More Simply in the hope that it will be embraced with openness and not opposed because of fear and guilt.
Often, the argument that women are to be a “helpmeet” to their husband is used to argue that a woman is not to suggest things that disagree with what her husband has proposed, brought up, thinks, etc.. Or to even provide a suggestion at all because then it isn’t “his” suggestion and the woman may be “manipulating” her husband through the suggestion. As a “helper”, though, it is your job to suggest. You aren’t helping if you are always quiet and don’t ever help further develop a thought, idea, or bring up a different viewpoint. If your husband is offended by this, maybe instead of thinking you are wrong to ever suggest something, maybe you should instead look at why he is offended by it. Are you doing it in a way that is demeaning or disrespectful? Does he have emotional wounds from something else that make him feel attacked any time that someone doesn’t just agree? Your suggestions should be without nagging, and should always have thought and logic behind them. They should only be given with the intention of helping, never as a manipulation to control. But, yes, you should be able to suggest.
One good way that I use to help delineate between a “suggestion” or discussion where I may not completely agree with my husband is the “MOMMOM” philosophy…Major On Majors, Minor On Minors. If the issue is a minor one and doesn’t REALLY matter, I’ll let it go (joyfully! It really doesn’t matter!). If it’s a major issue, I will respectfully share my thoughts and I expect him to listen and to do the same. The other thing that he and I both really stress to ourselves is that even if an issue seems unimportant to us, if it is important to the other person, then we need to respect that and the person’s feelings on it.
I think the bottom line is that it can be easy for some to confuse the line between “helping” and “manipulating”. We need to focus on having a good relationship (mutually) with our husband, protecting our marriage, and then being aware of how God would have us influence our lifelong partner. We are given to these men for a reason, as they are to us! God created the partnership of marriage for a reason, and while it is ABUSIVE to attempt to control another person, it is HEALTHY to attempt to help that person through suggestions or respectful discussions. Both men and women are created in the image of God, and God holds the characteristics of both genders. “Silent” is not synonymous with “helper”.