Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
Husbands are called to love, that is, to show love in their actions and speech towards their wives. Their natural tendency and temptation is not to. Paul wouldn’t have specified this if it were not so.
This, the second instruction given by Paul for human relationships, is obviously not for me. But I do know something of what he is talking about. I don’t really like to focus on things that God instructs others to do because I feel our priorities lie in searching out the things he instructs us to do. But I can tell you what a loving husband looks like.
Despite my undeservedness, I have a husband who tries very hard to show love. He works hard and provides for our family. He apologizes when he is wrong. He buys me flowers for no reason. He sacrifices his precious little time for me and for our kids. He says good things of me. He asks me what I need. He prays for me and with me daily. He compliments me. He tells me he loves me. He takes care of me when I am sick or tired. He tries to do right. He follows Christ. He forsakes things that cause me pain or fear. He forgives me. He treats me as an equal. He is growing out of harshness and replacing it with patience, kindness, and love. He does good to me every day and I could not be more thankful. God has richly blessed me with a husband who proves to look more like Christ every day.
Just as my failure or success in the area of submission and respect toward him can make it easier or harder for him to love me well, his obedience to love me well can make the difference in how difficult it is for me to submit to him. Neither is responsible for the others’ obedience, however, regardless of the other’s failure or success. In other words, just because your spouse is not obeying God in these instructions, it does not get you off the hook as responsible for obeying God in these instructions. Obeying might just be the catalyst for their repentance.
If your husband is not loving, do not give up. Obey God and respect him. If he is harsh, answer kindly. Try not to react. Stop expecting him to change and instead expect God to work. Pray. The Lord will honor your obedience and fill up where your husband lacks. If you are a husband, find out how to love your wife. Ask her. She will tell you. Obey God and trust him even when your spouse fails.