We’ve all seen weddings either in person or on screen. The bride, adorned in white and a touch of blue hidden, stands before her husband as she repeats after the minister the traditional marriage vow: “…for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.” That seriously can’t be all that marriage is. I did a little digging. Apparently there are a few other versions of the traditional vow, such as, “…I promise to… support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live,” which is kind of along the same lines I’m getting to.
There is more to the role of a wife than is found in those vows. Truthfully we should love everyone for better or for worse, wealth or lack thereof, sickness or health. It’s common human decency to show concern for all people no matter what their station is in life or their access to health insurance. You would think the man a woman chooses to spend the rest of her life with, the one she chose from the other 3.5 billion men in the world would receive a more personal, unique promise tailored to him.
Let’s start from the beginning. In Genesis 2:21-22 is written, “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman form the rib he had taken out of man, and brought her to the man.”
God created Eve because Adam did not have a suitable helper in the garden (Genesis 2:20). He plucked a rib from Adam’s chest, formed woman and presented her to Adam. It was Eve’s job to act as Adam’s helper. Merriam-Webster defines helper as an “unskilled worker who assists a skilled worker”. We can assume that Adam was well-versed in the duties of the garden and Eve, being a newbie, would act as his assistant.
Literally, Eve was Adam’s rib. The duties of a wife go beyond that of companionship, just as ribs provide more than physical structure to the body. Once married, the wife no longer has just her own life to care for. She takes her position at her husband’s side as his rib. What is the purpose of a rib, more specifically, the ribcage? The ribcage protects the organs in the thoracic cavity, such as, the lungs and heart. All of which perform important functions of the body.
The purpose of the lungs is to take in air and oxygenate our blood. Breath is symbolic of the spirit of man. The spirit is the life source and breath of the physical man – without the spirit the body dies. In saying that it is important that a wife not suffocate the spirit of her husband, but like the ribcage, expand, allowing him room to grow and live to his full potential. A wife that is rigid and restrictive, risks crushing her husband’s spirit, halting his rise to become the man that God created him to be.
The heart works continuously, 24 hours a day. Just as a man’s dreams never cease to seek fulfillment. In scripture, the heart is symbolic of the seat of a person’s desires, emotions, and dreams. The spirit (lungs) of man breathes life into the desires and dreams (heart) of a man. The heart is situated almost in the center of the chest, carefully enclosed by the ribcage protecting it from blows from outside. The role of a wife is to encourage and nurture her husband’s aspirations; deflecting negativity. She should not be a dream killer. A man without a vision (dream) is undisciplined and unfocused (Proverbs 29:18). Without purpose, a man wanders aimlessly and unfulfilled through life.
On the other hand, ribs can also cause more damage than good. If a rib pierces a lung or heart, it can cause irreparable damage. A wife lashing out in anger can injure more than a marriage, but the man she took a vow to protect. Be angry and do not sin (Psalm 4:4). Sin in this instance can also mean “a breakdown in a personal relationship” (NIV Key Word Study Bible).
In conclusion, being a wife is more than just being her husband’s best friend in good and bad times and bedside nurse in times of sickness, but stand beside him when doubt threatens to overcome his faith and encourage him when his dreams hit an obstacle. He needs more than chicken noodle soup but someone who will always be in his corner, allow his spirit to grow, and shield him when he lacks the strength to do so for himself.
What becomes of a man with a broken spirit? What is a man with unfulfilled dreams? To the men, I say, choose your wife carefully. The wrong decision may result in spiritual collapse (respiratory distress) along with blurred vision and delayed success (cardiac arrest).