Wives, Submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
Colossians 3:18-19 (ESV)
When the “word of Christ dwells in us richly" (v. 16), we can have relationships beyond what could be expected in the natural. Since we have the very life of God as our source, we can enjoy and employ the same kind of submission found in the eternal triune Godhead. There, no rivalry exits between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. All find both honor and joy in exalting the other. With no honor to fight for and no shame to cover each person of the Trinity rejoices in the glory of each other.
This is the privilege of Christian marriage. Wives can focus their full attention on assisting in the mission given by God to this marriage union. They can rejoice in every success of their husband and quickly move to cover any failure. They aren’t worried about their equal share of the glory. They have already found that in being a co-partner with God himself. They have married to be givers and partners, not takers and competitors.
Husbands can love like God loves. After all, when living in union with Christ by the Spirit, the same love that caused Jesus to sacrifice his own life to cleanse his bride is available to the husband. He does not have to prove he is the leader. He just leads by loving the same way Jesus did in the flesh and still does by the Spirit. His sacrificial love will give healing security to his wife and enable her to grow as his joint heir to the inheritance from God.
This text does not support any kind of cultural hierarchal system. It is a description of the blessings available to those who know that their sins are forgiven and their shame covered. Believers are growing in consciousness of their access to the practical power of the Spirit who lives in them to magnify the life of Jesus. They are not resistant to God’s design of male and female. Nor are they sensitive to the complimentary nature of husband/wife roles in marriage. Because they trust in the God who made them, established marriage originally, and redeemed them by the blood of Christ, they submit to his assignment and gladly embrace his power to demonstrate what heavenly relationships look like on earth. Since they have been forgiven, they can forgive. Since they have been shown mercy, they can show mercy. Mostly, they can reveal what life looks like when people live for someone other than themselves.