There is a lot of confusion about the roles of men and women within the marriage relationship. I do not claim to be an expert or to have all the answers. I have made many of the common mistakes and by the grace of God have been humbled by the realization that I have abused my role as a Husband.
The world makes claims that anything that feels good is right, as long as you are the one that feels good about it. I know that I am not the only one that sees the hypocrisy in this view. This view stems from people seeing everything from their specific point of view. This makes it impossible to be truly subjective in anything that involves me. Praise God that what is impossible with man is possible with God. If, through the working of the spirit, I look at these issues from Gods point of view (or as close as I can comprehend it) I begin to see that the root of these problems is sin. This may be obvious but what is not always obvious is that it is not just one persons sin, it is the sin of all involved. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
When we evaluate the roles of the husband and the wife, it is common to look at Ephesians and say husbands love your wives and wives respect your husbands. Many formulas and processes have arisen from the desire to equip Christians with the tools to do these things. There is the movement of the wife to be submissive and of the husband to take charge and lead the home.
There is nothing wrong with these ideas but they have to be understood within the context of all of scripture. I believe that scripture teaches that all people are sinful. Christians have been forgiven but the flesh still operates. If a husband goes into a marriage thinking I will love her as long as she respects me, then he has already failed as a steward of the marriage. If the wife goes into the marriage with the attitude that I will respect him as long as he deserves respect, then she has already failed as a steward of the marriage. Praise God for Romans 8:1 " Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
In scripture Paul asks the Corinthians would they not rather be wronged or defrauded than to go to court with their brethren. I would suggest that a spouse should be treated with at least as much care as a brother in the church. Paul also calls on the church to not only look after their own affairs but the affairs of others and to consider others as more important than themselves. If you truly consider someone else as more important than yourself, would you fight for your rights concerning this person? Meditate upon this in context of Christ as the example before committing to an answer. Did Christ fight for his rights? Scripture tells us that he could have called more than twelve legions of angels to defend him rather than submit to humiliation and death.
It is clear that love was a very important topic to Paul in the early church. I do understand that these things were written in the context of the brethren and not specifically within a marriage; but is your believing wife not also your sister in Christ or your believing husband not also your brother in Christ. I think we have clouded the love issue within marriage because so often we think of desire as being love. True love does not look for its own gain, but the gain of the object of that love. Anything else is an inferior love.
Realize that every man or woman who has ever been married has probably fallen in this area at some time or other, and most likely has never correctly stood up in this area. Again we praise God for his healing spirit that conforms us to his image. I know that I desire to love my wife like Christ loved the church and to consider her as more important than my selfish desires. We can only experience this as the Holy Spirit changes us.