The role of the husband is both a calling from God and a command by God. Husbands are to imitate Jesus in his care of the church. How can they do this?
The husband’s love should be sacrificial. Paul does not have in mind that a husband should merely give up a hobby in order to spend time with his wife. That is not how Jesus loved the church, by giving it a few hours a week out of his other activities. Rather it was total dedication, involving everything he possessed.
The role that the husband is called to fulfil is not an easy one; it requires the help of the Holy Spirit in order for it to be realised. Therefore it is essential that the husband be a man of prayer, that he has a healthy devotional life with God. He needs to be filled with the Spirit.
When a husband does this, he will be respected by his wife and she will accept his headship gladly. A spiritual woman will acknowledge her husband’s headship, but it is better when she also respects him because she knows that he cares about her growth in grace.
How long does the husband have to do this? As long as he lives. His love is to be expressed in this way constantly and does not depend on the wife’s response. Obviously it is easier to do it when things are going well, but he is to do it continually, because that is how Jesus does it.
This kind of home life is essential for the health of the church. Recall that the preparation for eldership is in the home. If a husband does not practice this type of dedicated love to his wife, then he will not show real concern for the church.