"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body" (Ephesians 5:25-30).
Ephesus in the time of Paul was a great city of the Roman Empire, a center of commerce and temples to a multiplicity of gods. Having lived there for a number of years, Paul was very aware of the temptations and distractions offered to those who were part of his fledgling spiritual community there. His letter, written from Greece, addresses a number of questions that have come to his attention. The overall theme, I think, is to emphasize that life decisions need not be difficult and complicated for followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Indeed, life is much clearer with the guidelines of Jesus.
The model for all things is, first of all, the example of Jesus himself in making the spiritual well-being of others more important than himself. This teaching about marriage is really a restatement of Jesus' teaching known as the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." It's really that simple—and that profound. If, in this most intimate and spiritual relationship of husband and wife, each partner remembers to treat the other as they would want to be treated, the balance will be perfect and the relationship will flourish.