Ephesians 5:21-33 (MSG)
Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church-a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor-since they're already "one" in marriage. No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.
A Catholic priest was preparing a young girl for her confirmation. When he asked her to define matrimony, she answered: "It's a state of terrible torment which those who enter are compelled to undergo for a time to prepare them for a better world" "No, no," Said the priest, "That's not matrimony. That's the definition of Purgatory."
There are tons of humorous stories about husbands, wives, and marriage. Even though Paul was never married, I believe he had respect for the institution. He believed marriage was a relationship where husband and wife respected one another and shared in the love that God shared with all of us. Even though Paul's language seems off putting and dated, he was setting forth a social revolution where women were no longer treated as property or used and abused at a husband's whim.
In that vain, the Ephesian's text is more about covenant, respect, forgiveness, commitment, and love which is a push against the cultural norm of the day. Paul is trying to describe what is best about marriage and how it can be compared to Christ and the church. It is language that should be a part of any healthy relationship. Think about it.