How to Build a Better Spouse, Part 3: Assistance


Recently I was at the refrigerator looking for the Tabasco sauce. Karen said, “It’s in the door.”

I looked in the door. “I don’t see it. It’s not here,” I said. I am not good at finding things.

“Jimmy, it’s in the door. I promise,” she said. “It’s right there.”

I was looking in the door. It wasn’t there. I spent so much time staring at the shelves in the refrigerator door that all the perishables were probably starting to perish.

Karen put down what she was doing, walked over to the door, reached right where I was looking, and grabbed the Tabasco sauce. She handed it to me. It was definitely in the door. I had been looking right at it.

This convinced me of two things. Number one: Karen has some kind of magical ability to find things. Number two: If Karen wasn’t in my life, I’d be in horrible shape. And I’m not just talking about whether or not I’m able to find the Tabasco sauce. Karen provides so many of the things I lack. I’m so thankful God brought her into my life.

The Bible says that we—the people of God—are the bride of Christ. Marriage is a sacred institution because it reflects our relationship with Jesus. But because humans sin and fall short, Jesus is always working to improve us. He is building a better spouse. He is actively trying to conform us to His image.

One important way Jesus builds a better bride is through assistance. Jesus helps us, and marriage is designed to provide a helper for a man or woman.

Hebrews 13 opens by talking about marriage, and Hebrews 13:6 closes the passage by saying, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” In the original Greek language, the word we translate “helper” is abethos, which means “one who comes running when we need help.”

That’s Jesus. He doesn’t stand at a distance. He’s there to help us in any way we can. He is always by our side. How does this apply to marriage? It means that, in a healthy relationship, we don’t stand back passively and watch our spouse struggle. We come and give them what they need. Maybe it’s Tabasco sauce. Or maybe it’s a listening ear or a reassuring hug. That’s what a helper does: supply what’s lacking.

Karen is my helper and I am her helper. I’ve always struggled with my emotions, because I don’t feel things the way most people do. Karen has helped me tap into those emotions. Her emotional intelligence is astonishing. At the same time, I’m able to supply things that she doesn’t have. For instance, I deal better with stress than she does, so one of my roles is to help bear her burdens, especially during difficult situations.

God gave us different gifts and personalities and matched us together like a team. Together, we are so much stronger than we are individually. She’s the brains of our home. I’m the hard worker and provider. So, we end up serving each other in big things and in little things. Both of us make each other stronger in this way.

With Jesus helping us, we can live with confidence, saying, “What can man do to me?”

At the same time, our spouse can help us live without fear. I would have a lot of anxiety without Karen in my life, and vice versa. The more we help each other, the better our marriage will be.

I’ve counseled many men and women who are struggling in their marriage. One thing I see all the time is the tendency to pull away from a spouse when we find ourselves in a period of conflict or difficulty. We turn our hearts away from each other. We stop helping each other. We stop communicating.

When we do this, it makes the other feel incomplete. It hurts the other spouse and it hurts the marriage. It makes our relationship stop reflecting the relationship between Jesus and the Church.

What if Jesus pulled away from you when you sinned? He doesn’t. As it says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Jesus provides us assistance in order to strengthen us and make us more like Him. Following His lead, our marriage will be strongest when we recognize the importance of helping each other.

Maybe you want a better spouse and a better marriage. Maybe you have been frustrated with your spouse and have turned your heart elsewhere. The best way to improve yourself or to repair your relationship is to follow the example of Jesus. We are His bride and He wants us to be better. If you want a better marriage, start by following His lead.

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