The Church is so different than the world that it cannot be understood by the darkness. Even the words we use are different in meaning. Love, in the Church has a far greater character than the love spoken of in the world. It is the same with the word submit.
If you tell someone in the world they have to submit, walls will come up pretty quickly. Yielding, trusting, giving up rights is not something that anyone in the world accepts easily. We see ourselves as freedom fighters and we will move heaven and earth to keep our rights, or so we think. But in the Church the word submit means to open ourselves to receive from others. It involves love and trust. Not trusting others necessarily but trusting God who works through them.
If you tell a woman in the world that she has to submit to her husband you will probably get an earful. The word means something different to them. But in the Church it comes loaded with a richness that overflows with trust and love:
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
Let's set aside the husband's responsibility until tomorrow and just focus on the wife here. I am assuming in this situation that the husband is a Holy Spirit, Jesus following man whose personal goal in life is to increase in his revelation of love. It is the woman's responsibility to trust what Jesus is doing through her husband. She must trust his words of encouragement, believing that Jesus is blessing her through her husband.
To receive the blessings of God we must submit ourselves, casting off our fear and opinions, to be open to receive from his hand what he offers us. Wives must see their husbands as a blessing, the person God will use to bless them. Husbands are a source of encouragement as they remind their wives of the glory of God. They have a huge responsibility in this relationship to love their wives as Jesus loves the Church, but the wives have equal responsibility to love their husbands as the Church loves Jesus.
It really comes down to a trust issue. Do wives trust Jesus to use their husbands to bless them? Imagine the blessings we miss out on when we fight against God. How can he bless those who fight against receiving those blessings? The same is true in a marriage. How can God bless the wife through the husband if the wife is constantly putting her husband down, calling him names, picking fights, arguing over everything and insisting on her way of doing things. Marriage is most certainly a partnership but it is clear in the Word how God works in a marriage.
It is true that none of this applies if the woman has married someone who is lost in the darkness and does not know Jesus. There are big problems with trust in that situation and it is part of the reason that Jesus told us not to be unequally yoked. Marriage works when Jesus remains the center of the relationship and continues to be the reason for being.
I realize that this is not a popular notion, even in the Church, and it's because we have allowed the attitude and wisdom of the world to darken our understanding of God's wisdom. If we look at submission from the world's perspective it is a nasty and ugly thing. If we understand marriage from God's perspective we understand that submission is a beautiful thing, an act of love and trust. We see husbands as representatives of Jesus, overflowing with love, self-sacrifice, Godly direction, hope, great lovers of their wives and no one else. When we look at men's responsibility tomorrow you will see how submission can be the most natural response to love.