I’ve heard the same comment from complementarians for years: the Bible says husbands have a harder duty in marriage than their wives.
First, the background. A complementarian is someone who believes that God has ordained a certain roles for husbands and wives in marriage. The husband is supposed to be the leader, and the wife is to submit to him and his leadership, in the way that the church submits to Christ. While both parents might lead when it comes to their children, the wife is still submissive to her husband.
This view offends a lot of people (especially those of us who think the New Testament teaches no such thing). In an effort to offset the usual protests against this teaching, complementarians might tell you that the husband’s job in marriage is actually harder than the wife’s, because she has to submit as the church does to Christ while he has to love her like Christ does the church, going so far as to give up his life for her.
Someone recently said this in a conversation with me. I disagreed with him, and I responded by making the following points. I never heard a response, so I’m posting them now to see what people think.
1. Each of us is commanded to demonstrate Christ-like love in our lives. It’s how the rest of the world knows that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:34-35). We’re commanded to love each other as Christ has loved us and to show the same type of forgiveness to our spiritual siblings as we have received from Him (Matt. 6:14-15; Colossians 3:13). This includes wives, as well as husbands (and singles, divorcees, etc.) I don’t see how this argument proves that husbands have a harder job in marriage, because everyone who’s a Christian, including wives, has the responsibility to love as Christ does.
2. This argument relies on a misunderstanding of how, exactly, the church “submits” to Christ. How does the Bride submit to her heavenly Husband? Is it not by trusting and loving him and, if necessary, being willing to lay down her life for His sake?
That last part should be sound familiar, and for good reason: it is exactly the same thing that husbands are commanded to do for their wives in Ephesians 5:25-30.
So I think the answer is no, husbands do not, generally speaking, have the harder job in marriage. I imagine that being a husband and being a wife is going to be tough for both people, and sometimes that role is going to be harder on one party than the other.
But I think it’s simply wrong to argue, on the basis of Ephesians in particular and the Bible in general, that husbands have the divinely appointed responsibility to fulfill the harder role in marriage.