Looking at the husband's position first: he must be willing to take his position in love, not to just rule or lord it over the woman. To lord it over has no place in God's plan. The husband cannot take his place unless the real love of God is working in his heart, because his role as a husband is going to take some effort. It is not going to be easy. So he must see what his role is as the head of the woman. He will have to suffer himself to be brought low, to take the place of one who serves, in order to lift the wife up to the oneness that he sees as the goal.
He can no longer look upon the wife as a slave or as one that has her duties, and try to make her do them for duty's sake, but must by his ministry allow the wife to move in love to do her duties--if we may call them that. The husband's ministry never comes to an end. He is the channel through which the authority of Christ affects the wife. This is not a small ministry, but a ministry of ruling so that the wife may be brought up to enjoying her role as his helpmeet in God's great working.
In olden days, submission was an adorning for the woman who trusted God. Peter said that the wives of today are daughters of Sara, who called Abraham lord, as long as they "do well, and are not afraid with any amazement" (1 Peter 3:6). To "do well" means to fulfill God's purpose as a wife, and this is not out of fear, but out of reverence for God. To reverence God means to know Him in His life and nature and to submit to the working of His grace.
Abraham is spoken of in the same manner as being our father, for he was accounted to be the father of faith, we being his sons if we have faith. As regards faith, God looks at both the husband and the wife. He honors faith in both. They are "heirs together of the grace of life."
The husband has been given God's authority over the wife, but just to state that has no meaning. God's authority must be recognized by the wife as that which can work only for her good. If a wife does not recognize her husband's authority, there is no authority. This authority works in like manner in the church. Each member of the body of Christ must make Him Lord. Jesus does not force His lordship on any of us, but without Him as Lord we cannot be saved. It is not just saying we have made Him our Lord, but it is making Him Lord in our everyday walk, allowing Him to direct us and to be the sole reason that we do what we do--because His Word is abiding in us and we are abiding in Him.
The authority of Christ in the church is the same authority of Christ in the husband-wife relationship. If we do not submit to His authority it can only bring us unnecessary heartache, and could cause us to turn our eyes from Him to ourselves, bringing a full expression of sin--and the end of sin is death.
This is why God's Word does not give us two ways of receiving His authority. Paul tells us that the woman must submit in all things, as unto the Lord. There is no second-best; there is only God's order. The authority we are talking about is a love-authority. This may sound good to those who think love is permissiveness, but love-authority doesn't just let you have your own way. It is the means of bringing us all to God's predestinated end--to God's perfect design, which cannot fail because it is finished in Christ. We are the only ones who can fall short of the fulfillment of God's will. We choose to submit to Christ. So too does the wife choose to submit to the headship of the man, in Christ.
If the wife fails to submit to God's authority, she cannot be the glory of her husband--and this is what she was created for. And if the husband tries to use God's authority for his own ends, it ceases to be God's authority. It becomes man exerting his own authority, which can never bring an expression of the oneness in Christ.