Men, Why is Being Asked to Love Your Wife Such an Offensive Proposition?

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Husbands, love your wives. You’d think all Christian men would give a resounding “Yes!” Especially since that’s what Scripture asks them to do.

But not all husbands agree.

A few days ago, I wrote about Ephesians 5:25, where God commands husbands to love their wives. The clarifying post came after I “fixed” Dale Partridge’s post, in which he had thoroughly infantilized women and made husbands pseudo saviors.

Husbands love your wives Image

This is Part 2 of my thoughts on love and “leadership” in marriage, which I first shared on Facebook. For context, make sure to read:

Below is Part 2 of my thoughts, a response to the push-back I received and a plea to Christian men to go higher.

Husbands Love Your Wives: Why Isn’t Love Enough?

Christian men, why is being asked to love your wife such an offensive proposition? Why is your response to “men love your wife” being met with, “but God tells me to lead her”?

When a Christian leader1 responds to a post asking men to love their wives with “The man is the leader. Any women offended…got issues”, we need to be concerned.

That Christian men2 in public areas of influence get to roll onto women’s pages and tell them they got issues for expecting their husbands to love them? Beyond troubling.

Men, don’t you see what your insistence on power and position says to women? To many of us, it seems that the most important thing in the relationship is not unity and connection but your position and power. “Leading” trumps loving.

Complementarian men. Assuming you want to do both (“love” and “lead”), doesn’t love cover all bases then? Because why would you “lead” unlovingly?

And talking about love, here’s how Paul defines it. Love is Patient. Kind. Not envious. Not boastful. Not proud. Not dishonoring. Not self-seeking. Not easily angered. Keeping no record of wrongs. Does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I believe in the mutuality of marriage, that husband and wife are partners.3

But I want men who believe in complementarianism to see how their insistence on “leadership” when asked to love their wives is, frankly, terrifying.

And to those complementarian couples in happy, healthy marriages – my husband and I were happy complementarians for over a decade – research shows you practice high levels of mutuality.

That’s why your marriage is happy because your dynamic consists of a healthy consideration of each other’s needs and desires, not a lording over.

Research by Dr. John Gottman shows that when husbands are unwilling to share power in their marriages, there’s an 81% chance their marriage would self-destruct.

Husband love your wives as Christ

Complementarianism and Abuse

A note for those who recently found me. This page and my website raises awareness about abuse and intimate partner violence. I also explore healthy marriage dynamics and expose teachings that have elevated marriage, the institution, above the individual.

Please know that the belief that husbands are God-ordained leaders and wives must submit (vs. mutually submit and serve each other) has led to abuse and violence against women and children. It has resulted in many, many perpetual unhealthy marriages.

And October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“The man is the leader” is not empty rhetoric. It’s the exact phrase and dogma used by porn addicts, serial philanderers, deceptive manipulators and exploiters, and those who neglect their marital commitments. They use these words to justify themselves, deny and deflect responsibility and minimize the harm done.

So, if you’re complementarian, have compassion. Hold space for the lamentations and grief of those who have been harmed by men who neglect responsibility, harm, and exploit others, all in the name of Christ.

Have compassion for women and children who have been beaten down and dragged through dark valleys by a theology that has enabled abuse in their homes.

And men, I need you to know this. If love were enough, you wouldn’t need to flex (insist on “lead.”) When you bristle and insist on your “leadership role” when love is brought up, then perhaps there’s more to your desires and intention than loving your wife.

Next: Read Part 3 of the series: Dear Complementarian Husband, A Marriage Operating Through a System of Power and Control is Abusive


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Red Flags of Abuse - Cover image


1. His online bio says he’s a pastor. He has a large following on Facebook, and he found my “Fixed” post and wrote the following in response, “The man is the leader. Any women offended by this post got issues. If I want to read to my wife, teach my wife or whatever else that doesn’t mean that she is a child. I am the leader of my home and I lead. That’s what a Godly man does.” That was his response to “Husbands, love your wives.”

2. I chose not to name him because I don’t think I want to add to his notoriety, but you can always go to the original post and find his comment.

3. Here’s a summary of Paul’s main points in Ephesians 5:22-33 in one image >> I encourage you to read the post.


  1. Thank you so much for your post. In the last few years I have come to understand that I am in an emotionally abusive relationship. Your post is the first time I’ve heard it claimed that leading IS loving but it’s a claim my husband also makes. My husband, a former minister, further twists love by claiming that its primarily about preaching the gospel because Jesus is the Word and the apostles primarily preached the Word/Gospel and we’re called to do likewise. We can’t love others simply in actions because actions don’t result in people meeting Jesus through his Word which means they can’t be saved. Therefore we must preach the gospel so people can hear and be saved. As a result, the 1 Corinthians passage is not as important and whenever he isn’t patient, kind etc it is fine because he’s a sinner and forgiven.
    I’m very thankful to women like yourself, Sheila, Leslie and Natalie who have helped me get free. I now know and believe that expecting a truly loving husband was not wrong but is also possible. Thank you.

    1. Oh Leanne, your husband put you through a lot. Twisting scripture to suit their narrative is a common tactic by abusers. I’m so glad you got clarity.

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