These verses (5:22-33) are all of a piece. We can't separate one from another. The burden would seem to be heavier on the husband than the wife. The husband is to give himself up for his wife, to love her as he loves himself, to present the word of God to her, to help her become holy and blameless before God, just as he does for himself because in marriage the two have become one.
Paul is, of course, speaking to two Christians married to one another. Then, if the husband does all of this, the wife need only respect and submit. She is not even, in this case, told to love her husband. Yet we know we are to love all people. A husband who can do all of the above is never abusive to his wife, nor demeaning. A wife, whose husband is this good, would never lose respect for him or have a need to nag. Will they argue sometimes or disagree about what is best for their union, their body? Yes.
I'm reminded of a book I read recently which touched on the Civil War in the United States. I was constantly amazed at how far President Lincoln would go to maintain the union, the marriage if you will, among the states. He was tolerant of dissent and disagreement even among his cabinet as long as the goal was to save the union.
For Reflection: If you are married, how strong is your union? What can be done to make it stronger? If unmarried, is there anyone who helps you grow in the body of Christ? How can you honor that person?
Let us pray. God of mercy and love, unite your body more closely to you so that no part, no molecule, may go astray. Unite me more closely to you.
Increase my love for my spouse. Increase my spouse's love for me. Unite us more as one in being with you.