15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:15-33 ESV).
According to this text, the primary responsibilities of wives and husbands toward each other are rightful submission and sacrificial love.
1. Wives should submit to their husbands because the husband is the head in the relationship (23), just like Christ is the head of the church (23b-c).
This submission should be like the church’s submission to Christ: holy (22b, 24a) and complete (24b).
Holy, because the Lord is perfect but husbands are not; complete, because of the reality of the husband’s God-given role as head.
2. Husbands should love their wives just like Christ sacrificed himself for the church’s glorious holiness (25b-27f).
This love should be like Christ’s love for the church: sanctifying (26a-27f) and giving and nourishing (28b, 29b-c).
So husbands should seek to help their wives grow spiritually. they should ensure that their wives flourish spiritually, emotionally, physically.
This is the highest love, loving one’s wife as if she were one’s own self (which she has become - 29-31).
Notice that none of the commands in this passage are predicated upon one’s husband or wife being worthy of submission or of love. (This is even true if the husband or the wife are unbelievers - see 1 Cor 7:12-14.) Rather, they are predicated upon the eternal reality of Christ’s relationship to his church.
So wives, take your cues from the church; husbands, take your cues from Christ.