I suppose I am old enough now that I've been married for four years, to start knowing people my own age going through very difficult times in their marriage. Of course that's not to say that my own marriage is perfect by any means, but it just saddens me to hear of so many christian marriages that fail. Our culture is definitely to blame. It's more than just the fact that divorce is so widely advised, but it's the message that society sends as a whole. "Do what makes you happy." "If your partner treats you one way, you have grounds to make demands and be selfish." "Get out if you don't feel it anymore." Marriage is NOT about feelings. It's actually not about you at all. It's really only there so that we as Christians can emulate the relationship that Christ has with the church.
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ alsodoes the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (Epesians 5:22-33)
This passage is not at all saying "wives do everything your husbands say." I read that passage and think that husbands have the harder of the two jobs. I read that as "Husbands, bend over backwards for your wife, love her sacrificially, and naturally, she will want to submit to you because she will respect you and feel safe. Christ died for the church because of his love for it. Therefore, be willing to sacrifice."
"Well what if my husband isn't loving me like Christ loved the church?" I don't think the Bible ever gives commands with exceptions. Wives, show respect to your husband, even if he is not respectable. You have such an opportunity to minister to him by not being demanding. Communicate your needs, while also considering his needs from you. Most of the time there is an impasse because one is not willing to give, and it becomes a vicious cycle. "I dont respect you because you don't love me" "Well I don't love you because you don't respect me." Someone's got to give, and it has to start somewhere. If you want things to change, maybe change yourself first and see if it makes a difference. Chances are you aren't perfect and you could make those changes even if the other never does. You are not responsible for your partners actions, but you can help them by emulating how you would like to be treated.
It is EXTREMELY difficult to put these things into practice. I know because I am STUBBORN. I didn't even know I was stubborn until I got married. I'm also always right 0:-) just kidding :). When you're mad or hurt though, most of the times those are the only things we see. We see how the other person needs to come to the end of their self, and apologize, so we kick and scream and throw a little temper tantrum until they realize this isn't going away until they apologize. Sometimes, we just have to realize though that we're not called to love ourselves, but to worry more about how we are loving the other. Our own needs should pale in comparison to the others'. If we are constantly asking ourselves "How can I show love better?" the chances are we won't be as concerned with how we are being treated, but loving more like Christ. When we are loving like Christ loved his church, the chances are that the other will also want to love you sacrificially. I wish this were an easier thing to do, but it can sometimes be the hardest thing in the world to put off selfishness and realize that even if your spouse is not perfect, you are still called to love them.
The marriage kind of love should not be conditional. If Christ's love for us was conditional, then we would ALL be in trouble. Im thankful for His unconditional love, and I'm also thankful for a husband who does his best to love me like Christ loved the church.