A Necessary and Complementary Partner

In a previous post I responded to a colleague’s question about how the follower is a “helper” in the dance (in reference to Gen. 2:18). Recently I have learned more about the context and meaning of the term that is translated “helper” in that verse, and consequently I want to revisit the question in light of this new information.

The new information comes from a study series taught by Dr. John Yates, rector of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Raleigh, N.C. In the study notes, Dr. Yates writes:

The term, “helper,” used to describe Eve is often used of God himself. [Exodus 18:4, Deuteronomy 33:7, 1Samuel 7:12] It essentially means one who provides what is lacking/what the other is incapable of on his or her own. A helper is therefore not an assistant but a necessary and complementary partner.

This explanation of Eve’s relationship to Adam and, more generally, wives to husbands is depicted in partner dance. Both the follower and leader are equally important to the dance; they are equal partners with distinct and complementary roles.

While the observations I presented in the original post are valid, I believe this additional explanation gives more accurate insight into the significance of the female’s role — applicable in both dance and marriage. Men and women were created by God as equal and complementary partners. Dr. Yates’ study validated this truth with numerous scriptures.

Partner dance presents an experience akin to what God intended for marriage, including cooperation between equal and complementary partners. Dancing with your spouse (or taking dance lessons together) is a great way to learn and practice partnership in your marriage.

Husbands, in what ways is your wife a necessary and complementary partner to you?

10 thoughts on “A Necessary and Complementary Partner

  1. I like to say that I would not be the man that God designed me to be if it was not for my wife. That sounds cliche but it is true. I know I would not be on this path if it wasn’t for the ongoing love, support, encouragement, wisdom, faith, and prayers of my wife. I might be leading but I can say clearly that I would be stumbling around looking like a fool in this dance of life if she wasn’t my partner.
    Thanks for a great post!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Brad. As the saying goes (speaking of cliches), it takes two to tango! Sounds like you and Kate make a great team.

  2. IF a wife is supportive and encouraging of her husband and treats him like her hero, he will move heaven and earth for her. It’s highly motivating to accomplish things and do more–to take responsible risks and strive to do what’s right. If she responds to his suggestions with respect and striving to help him, he will make a special effort to do discern what’s right for his family. Just like a dance partner who smiles and shows she’s having a blast.

    If she nags, corrects, directs and treats him like a child, she can ruin his motivation in all kinds of ways–like a dance partner who’s cranky, won’t respond, acts like she’s not having fun and always corrects her partner.

    • Strong Man, thanks for joining the conversation. I believe the intentional partnership is meant to be characterized by mutual respect and appreciation – the support and encouragement you describe. While scripture specifies a divine order in the marriage partnership, this does not distinguish one partner as more valuable than the other. Both male and female are created in the image of God, equally and as complements to each other. In our fallen world, unfortunately, the gender differences seem to separate and divide us more often that they are celebrated and applied for the intended mutual benefit. I believe dancing together helps spouses experience the gender differences in more positive light, as complements working together for good, something to be celebrated rather than denied.

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