The Torah describes this person as being an ezer kenegdo – an “opposing helper.” Rashi explains this odd phrase as meaning that the role of a spouse is indeterminate. If a man is fortunate, then he will be blessed with a wife who is his helper. If he is unfortunate, then his wife will constantly oppose him.
Other commentators, however, do not view ezer kenegdo as polar opposites – one being good and one being bad. Rather, both words describe the same woman. Rav Zalman Sorotskin in Oznayim L’Torah explains this as follows: when the man is doing something good and is on the right path, then his wife will be an ezer – a helper and assist him to accomplish his goals. If however the man is on the wrong path and is about to make a bad decision, then his wife will be kenegdo – an opponent who will point out to him his mistakes and set him on the correct path.
This understanding of kenegdo – namely constructive opposition, helps us understand…
– Rabbi David Hertzberg,
The Jewish Press, Oct 2, 2007
The image in my mind was of two kids achieving equilibrium on a teeter-totter so I went looking for the image. When I found the image I saw in my mind (above,) it was ona website for Jewish gifts. It occurs to me that Jews have generally had a greater respect for the abilities of women than most other cultures. Not perfect, but better than the rest of us. Perhaps you disagree. – RHW