This verse (Ephesians 5:21) holds the key to the #1 cause of marriage problems, according to Dr. Keller. What is that cause? Self-centeredness! And from my completely arbitrary sample size of one (1) marriage, he's right.
I mean, in my marriage, the #1 cause of problems is self-centeredness: mine in particular. (It's all about me!) We were talking about this in my small group of guys, and I actually told them that. Well, not in those exact words; I think I said "selfish" rather than "self-centered". I mean, I really do want to put the lovely Carol at a higher priority than my ideas and projects and so on... just not right at this moment.
Right? Isn't that an illustration of the problem?
The point I really liked (sorry I don't have the link handy; you can find it just as easily as I can) was his comment that we all have woundedness and selfishness. Though my wounds might make my selfishness a little more severe, I was selfish from the day I was born (sorry, Mom). And so were you! And so were your kids! Little kids do need to be taught to share and to take turns; they do need to be socialized. The idea that kids are born perfect is truly silly.
Anyway, we have wounds, and we need to be cared for; we also have selfishness, and we need to repent. If two people decide that their need to be cared for exceeds their need to repent, that's like two fleas, each thinking the other is the dog.
What if both partners say/think this: "I need to repent of selfishness more than I need you to take care of me; I should put you first, rather than insisting that you care for me first"? Great things can happen. Unlimited possibilities!
May the Lord help us to keep on doing so.