Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (ESV)
So much of what is called love is not at all what the Bible is talking about when it talks of love. We think in terms of romantic love. Husbands think of love in terms of giving their wife flowers, or taking them away on a special trip, or even using certain words to woo their bride. While these can be nice things to do, the fact is that these actions do not rise to the level of love that Paul is referring to here in Ephesians 5:25.
Paul is giving a command to husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. This kind of love is completely sacrificial. It isn't contingent upon getting something back in return. In fact, if nothing was given back in return this kind of love would still be given. Sovereign love. Sacrificial love. A husband's love.
To the husbands reading this I ask you, "How many times have you thought you were doing something loving to your wife, but in reality, you were expecting something in return?" I remember one day when I bought my wife a huge bouquet of roses. When I came home from work late at night I placed the flowers on the table. I waited for the next morning to hear her delight and to hear her tell me how wonderful I was. She did not respond the way I expected. I was then very angry. In reality, I wasn't being loving at all. I was manipulating her for her response. Sacrificial love gives. Period.
Love is a sacrificial act on behalf of another. If you think that you are being loving but you are demanding something in return you are fooling yourself. I believe that many marriages collapse because spouses claim that they are doing all of these loving things and are not getting anything in return. I would argue that they are not being loving at all, but rather manipulative. I know that this is a tough concept, but it is a biblical one. If you want a wonderful marriage you must do things God's way.
Husbands, evaluate how you love. Is it sacrificial? Or is it manipulation. Women, pray that your husband will learn to love like the Savior.