Continuing on in his instructions to the Ephesian church, Paul makes clear the God-given duties of husbands and wives toward one another. In short, they are thus: wives, submit; husbands, love.
Knowing that God would not inspire Paul with unimportant things, and that Paul had no need to command what comes natural to us, let us consider carefully what is written to us here.
Wives, submit. Submission is surrender. All wives are engaged in a war. The war is not between we and our spouses. The war is between our personal preferences, natural tendencies, selfish desires and our obedience. Our deference is to be to our authority rather than our felt needs. Because God has made the wives’ authority her husband as well as Christ, the focus meant to drive our every decision is this: Will this please God? Will this please my husband? Our duties to Christ are realized in the sacrificial acts of submitting, receiving, and obeying our husbands.
Husbands, love. God defines this love as sacrifice, giving, and cleansing. The husband’s sacrificial love actually leads to the progression of his wife’s sanctification. His duty is to give all of himself solely to her as Christ does for the church, and to “wash” her with the Word of God. The command indicates that it is the husband’s duty to nurture his wife through selfless love, provision, and teaching.
For both the husband and the wife, these instructions suggest a giving up of selfish interests in order to serve the other. When both parties cooperate in obeying these things, their marriage becomes a picture of Christ and his bride – the church.
We will be blessed both by God and one another when we commit to honoring his ways rather than our own. It will probably look something like this:
“The love which God requires from the husband on behalf of his wife will make amends for the subjection which he demands from her to her husband; and the prescribed subjection of the wife will be an abundant return for the love of the husband which God has made her due.” ~Matthew Henry