we wanted the union

As wives, we have great power. We can build kingdoms or tear them down with our words alone. I’ve been thinking about this influence over the past few weeks, as we celebrated nine years of marriage last month. It has taken me this long to begin to believe, really believe, that he loves me like he’s always said.

I know it doesn’t make sense. Of course he loves you, they say, he’s your husband! But I have filters, you see. Those filters sift through his words (or non-words) to find evidence of contradiction. I usually find what I’m looking for. And it isn’t fair to him. He is a simple man, a loving man. And he is a man. He doesn’t complicate things like I do, and he doesn’t say love things if he doesn’t mean them. What logical man would do that?

Gradually, over the years, I’ve dared to trust him, to believe him, and even riskier, to act like it’s true. Not only that, I’m learning what it means to invite him to love me in the ways I feel loved rather than grumble and pick and complain.

We have great influence. Sometimes I discount it, because it’s easier to believe that what I say or how I say it doesn’t matter. It is actually easier to believe untruths about myself and my influence than it is to believe the opposite. When that low opinion of myself gets in the way, watch out, because havoc will ensue.

I read this morning in Roy H. Williams Monday Morning Memo a reminder of the truth about why God made a wife for the man. She wasn’t just his helpmate or assistant. The literal Hebrew translation in Genesis says that she was made to be his ezer kenegdo, or a strength opposite him, a power facing him, a rescue that looks him in the face. What if we dared to believe that was true? Would it change anything?


  1. says

    Wow. This one knocked the wind out of me. I’ve felt God urging me to be the wife He created me to be, the power facing my husband instead of the force opposing him with doubt and insecurity. Like you, it has taken me 13 years of marriage to believe that the man He gave me truly loves the woman God gave him. I wish you knew how much I needed to read this, but somehow, I think you do. I’m going to share this with my husband this morning. As always, thank you.

  2. says

    Oh wow! I LOVE that Hebrew translation! I am going to share it with my husband as soon as I finish this…what a humbling amazing way of looking at that verse. Thank you so much for sharing the beauty and the challenge of it with us this morning. I think I need to go back and read it and pray with it during my quiet time this week. You are really blessed me this morning, thank you Emily! And by the way…Happy Anniversary a little late!!!

  3. Brooke says

    wow – love the hebrew translation. strength….power…..rescue…. thanks for sharing this post – and the encouragement it has given me to strive to be a better wife to my hub.

  4. says

    Unfortunately, I have not been that “strength” opposite him. We just recently celebrated 17 years of marriage and some real struggles in the past 3. However, God has in His true unique fashion has used our weaknesses to show one another our strengths.

    I have seen pride in its ugliest form creep into my heart. Now, seeing my husband in his weakest moments has allowed me to understand that God does the work so that I might see things through HIS eyes, not mine. So, what has changed for me?…softer eyes and warmer heart.

    Thanks, Emily for touching my soul with HIS words…again.

  5. says

    I love that translation. And I love this post. I used to feel that my husband didn’t need me as much as I needed him and that the balance of “power” in our relationship was way off. Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot about biblical submission since then and I now understand that when we’re one in God’s eyes, it’s not about who is the neediest. We’re a team.

  6. says

    How can I, after nearly 30 years of marriage, doubt my husband’s love for me? Yet that’s what I do time and time again. I’m still learning after all these years. You’re blessed to learn this lesson early in your marriage, Emily. Thank you for sharing the translation. It truly makes me feel empowered to be the helpmeet he needs.

  7. says

    Timely. Especially since I sent my sweet Man out the door this morning with nary a word, so consumed was I over a malfunctioning dryer.

    I love that Hebrew translation. I’ve never read that before, but it’s totally true. I should know…it’s my story. We do have the power to build up or to tear down, to push away or to rescue. We wives wield some crazy power. I’ve also learned that it’s not enough just to know what we should do; change requires a Power Source that is bigger than me. Inviting the change, yielding to it…those daily disciplines have been huge for me.

    Thank you for your wise and encouraging words.

  8. says

    That Hebrew translation is very very powerful. That will stick with me for quite awhile. We just celebrated 38 years of marriage – hard for me to believe – and I was thankful the other day for God providing me with just the right partner in life. I do think at times, what does he see in me or why has he stayed with me this long? Funny thing is he thinks the same thing about me sticking with him. We laugh about that. Perhaps that is a clue -we don’t take each other for granted and we laugh and enjoy each other’s company

  9. says

    tears are falling here… the hebrew translation…wow. still wrestling to believe Truth and still fighting the lies that tear down and open up cracks for pride to pervade this 17-year-old marriage. thank you for sharing this rich beauty that will be my feast today.

  10. says

    it was a rough weekend, around our house. We seldom fight, but we did this weekend and i know ugly, hateful things were said by both sides. Though my husband has moved on, I felt myself still sort of there (in the wounded way, not the vindictive one) as the weekend progressed. Sort of that “we can never be the same” feeling, even though i know we can. This post was exactly what I needed this morning.

  11. says

    This is so crazy — I just wrote a post (which I wrote in anticipation of linking up here tomorrow) about the “anyway love” that my husband has even when I seem to ruin the moment — or the day. God has been working on me in recent weeks to get me to just believe that he (my husband) and He (my Jesus) loves me like he/He says. So amazing how He uses marriage to show Himself. I love your words here about choosing to act like it’s true.

  12. says

    i love that last bit you shared as regards the translation – it changes everything. amazing what a slight shift of perspective can do.

  13. says

    I often forget what my placement as a wife means. It’s not to take advantage or be manipulative or hording. Thanks for this beautiful reminder of the gift God gave me.

  14. Sissy says


    Isn’t it funny that we sometimes can’t believe it is true? I mean, he picked me. He asked me. And yet I still search for ways to be secure in it. Why, oh why, are we like that?

    Love you!

  15. says

    I still remember reading about the Hebrew word ezer kenegdo in John and Staci Eldredge’s book “Captivating.” They quote Biblcal scholars who said the word is notoriously hard to translate. The best (and most common) English translation is help meet. But to be honest, whenever someone said, “Oh, a wife is so important; she’s her husband’s help meet,” I couldn’t help but feel a little marginalized. I mean, a side kick? We all know Robin saved Batman’s life a few times, but come on. Batman doesn’t need Robin.

    That’s why the Eldredge’s explanation was so helpful. They point out the only other place ezer kenegdo is used in the Bible is in the Psalms. As in “Oh Lord, you are my ezer kenegdo. Who else can rescue me?” It’s not a helper who’s an addition. It’s a helper who is life-saving, life-giving. Wow! Now I feel empowered and humbled to be a help meet.

    (I love the idea of a “strength opposite him” as well. Powerful word picture.)

  16. says

    I’ve been wrestling with this same thing lately. We’ll celebrate 12 years in September, but I feel like there’s this whole room inside that is still locked and barred to him. Why don’t I trust him with it? I’m afraid. I have no real reason to be afraid, but I can find plenty if I look and pick and complain. He’s trying so hard to be my confidant and I’m struggling so hard to trust him enough to confide. I’ve been misreading him and assuming and complicating things beyond all that is reasonable. Thanks for the encouragement to keep working at this and to take him at face value.

  17. says

    oh-such an interesting post. i love the literal translations.
    i’m trying to remember back, think if it was around that time that i started believing, too-or maybe it was more recent. like yesterday? we’ll be celebrating 19 in a few weeks. how time flies when you love the one you’re with. 😉
    belated congrats to you.

  18. flyinjuju says

    That was perfect. We are also coming up on 9 years and we were just having a discussion last night about my role as a wife as well as trusting. This couldn’t have been more timing. What a blessing to know I am not the only one feeling those emotions as we embark on this wonderful journey of marriage. Love your blog and can’t wait for your books. :)

  19. says

    I love learning Hebrew translations, thanks for sharing this one. It can make the Word so powerful. This is a beautiful reminder of role we play as a wife.

  20. says

    Thankful God used you to send me a gentle reminder. I’ll be spending time contemplating your ideas after a teary talk last night. (Married 27 years, BIG move across the country, struggling with house, missing friends and two of my kids, forgetting we’re a team…)

  21. says

    It is comforting to know so many of us struggle with the same things – those same feelings of unworthiness. After 43 years of marriage I still don’t have it all perfectly figured out. Too often I let self stand in the way of what I know to be true. I think I am a dreadfully slow learner (or just plain stubborn perhaps).
    You have shared such precious wisdom. I know it is true.

  22. says

    Lovely post. Even though I am not married, my filter and oftentimes low opinion of myself has a negative impact on my relationships. I don’t feel so alone in this after reading this post! You were able to articulate this pattern of mine to the tee! Thanks for being so open…maybe we can grab coffee soon and catch up!

  23. says

    I am catching up after not reading closely/commenting last week, and I have to say that I do believe that, and I think it’s how we have been able to make our marriage work. I know without a doubt that I have value to Mike, that he would never have been able to do the things he has done without me challenging and supporting him. And he knows that I need his push and pull just as much. That doesn’t mean we have it all figured out, just that I do feel important in our relationship, and I think it has made all the difference.

  24. says

    Hmmm… I just stumbled across this post and I know it is not coincidence that I did. Those filters? I have them. A loving and logical man? Have that, too….

    Thank you.

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