Question: "What does it mean that a wife is supposed to be a helpmeet / help meet?"

Answer: The word helpmeet comes from Genesis 2:18 in the King James Version of the Bible, which says, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Meet in this context is an adjective that means “suitable.” What the verse actually says is that God created a “help” for Adam, and this helper was “meet” (suitable, fit, proper) for him. Through the years the phrase help meet morphed into a single word, helpmeet, which is sometimes used as a synonym for helpmate, meaning “spouse” or “companion.” Modern translations render the phrase in Genesis 2:18 as “a helper fit for him” (ESV); “a helper suitable for him” (NIV and NASB); or “a helper comparable to him” (NKJV).

It is interesting to note that the only part of God’s creation declared to be “not good” concerns Adam’s solitary state. God stated that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). A man is, by nature, a social creature; God created us to need companionship. And, of course, a man alone cannot propagate. Adam by himself was incomplete. This is why God created Eve as a “help meet”: to complete Adam, to provide society for him, and to enable him to produce children. Eve was exactly what Adam needed—a helper suitable for him.

Does this mean that every man must have a wife, a helper to complete him? No. In fact, the apostle Paul said that celibacy is a good thing for the servant of God (1 Corinthians 7:7–9). Does it mean that every woman must be a wife and a completer of a man? No. Not every woman wants to marry or is led to matrimony. However, the Genesis passage sets the standard for most people in most contexts. A wife is the helper suitable for her husband.

So what exactly does it mean to be a suitable helper? The key is the word suitable. A suitable wife is compatible with her husband in many respects—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This doesn’t mean the man and woman are the same in everything, only that they fit together in harmony. They complement each other. The B-flat key on the piano is not the same as the G, but together they make a harmonious chord. Similarly, a suitable helper for a husband is a wife who is different from him, but well-suited to him, one who completes him in every way and who brings harmony, not discord, to the relationship.