I can tell you from personal experience that there is a major disconnect between reading this verse and applying it to our lives. Most are okay with the “love your wives” part, but to give up myself in sacrificial service for her is little understood by me or anyone else. We live in a very self-centered world and this attitude has affected most in the church. Our priorities have become so messed up that we will put a hundred things before we consider serving our wives in this way.
Earlier in this chapter, Paul gives the same example, but in a more general sense. “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (5:1-2). Notice that the principle of love and sacrifice are not confined to marriage. The word “walk” is an “active imperative” that requires a continual behavior in love by giving of yourself to serve others. Paul adds that this kid of love is “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”. In other words, if this becomes a way of life for you and me, God will have continual worship from our behavior and way of life, not just Sunday.