Napsal(a) New Christian Bible Study Staff
The Hebrew of the Old Testament has six different common words which are generally translated as "wife," which largely overlap but have different nuances. Swedenborg uses two different Latin words, which largely overlap but have different nuances. Meanwhile, "wife" is often paired with "man" or "husband," which are also catch-all translations for a basket of Hebrew and Latin terms. So it's hard to pin down one universal meaning for "wife"; context and subject matter have a large effect.
In general, though, marriage in the Bible represents the union we all seek between our hearts and our minds. If we know what is right and pursue it faithfully, the Lord will ultimately help us love doing what is good, and the two aspects of ourselves will be unified. On a higher level, marriage represents the union we can have with the Lord, both individually and collectively as a church. As an intrinsic part of the marriage, the wife plays a key role in that meaning. But that meaning is different depending on what is being described.
If the marriage is describing a person who is spiritual in nature – "spiritual" being the second degree of heavenly life, in which people are led by intellect and knowledge with the desire for good following – the wife represents the desire for good, the affections that drive the person. If the marriage is describing someone who is celestial in nature – "celestial" being the highest degree of heavenly life, in which people are led from love, with the intellect and ideas following – the wife represents the true ideas held by the person or church. If the marriage is describing the union between the Lord and the church, the wife represents the church.
In a way, these are symbolic meanings that actually have little to do with gender. When "wife" describes a church, obviously that church can include both male and female people. When "wife" describes an aspect of a person, that person can obviously be either male or female.