1 Peter 3:1 (NLT)
In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. ...
- The key words in this admonition are "in the same way." He's just been discussing the importance of doing good and living what is right, even if it causes suffering as a result of doing good.
Just as we are to live this way before our authority figures in the surrounding state, so too we are called to do so within other reltionships as well. As the understanding of marriage in that culture and time ordained that a wife was the property of the husband, there was an authoritative relationship that existed. It would be a mistake to directly transpose this to our culture and society today. Peter is writing guidelines for living rightly before God in that time and place. He is not writing a 21st century marriage guideline for us.
1 Peter 3:7 (NLT)
...Treat your wife with understanding ... she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. "
-Summing up both admonitions, I think it is safe to say that husbands and wives in our culture are called to be cooperative and understanding towards one another within the unique dynamics of our own relationships. The owner-property mindset is not valid, but Peter's reminder that we are equal partner's in God's gift of life certainly is.
There are gender differences that affect how we each need to be cared for, and we also have individual needs and abilities. Understanding this and seeking the goodness of God in our marriages is always appropriate in any age and relationship.
1 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)
... Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.  Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, ...