No matter what your husband or circumstances are like, you can change your marriage for the better by becoming a positive wife. Your decision to act positively can release great power that will draw you closer to both God and your husband.

Here are some ways you can become a positive wife:

• Put your hope in God. Don't look to your husband to fulfill you. Instead, look to God alone to give you satisfaction and joy in life. Know that God will never disappoint or fail you. Strive to love God with all your heart, mind, and strength. Ask God to give you His peace about your marriage. Invite God to help you love your husband more by serving as a channel for God's love to flow through.

• Strive to complement your husband. Ask God to show you how your own strengths and weaknesses can complement your husband's strengths and weaknesses so that the two of you are greater together than apart. Think and pray about how you can use your God-given talents to bless your husband and other people with whom you both interact. Consider how your marriage can shine God's light to others in the world through the unique ways you and your husband bring out the best in each other. Rely on God's strength to overcome your weaknesses.

• Know the truth about true love. Understand that true love isn't simply something that's discovered. Instead, it's created through the hard work of continually choosing to act in love no matter what your feelings of the moment. Decide to make the daily choice of loving your husband as God does - in all circumstances, despite your husband's faults. Realize that the power to love your husband isn't based on your love for yourself, but on God's love for you. Don't try to build your self-esteem so you can love others; instead, recognize your value in God's eyes and accept His unconditional love. Know that marriage is intended to be a lifetime commitment. Count on God to always supply the grace you need to act in love. Enjoy the wonderful gift of love!

• Choose to forgive. Realize that you need to forgive your husband freely and regularly. Remember that God has forgiven you of many things and expects you to forgive others so both you and they can be healed. Periodically take an inventory of any grudges you're holding against your husband. Then release them in prayer, relying on the Holy Spirit to help you. Work to resume a healthy relationship with your husband by acting with kindness. If your husband struggles with habitual sin, help him heal by drawing upon resources such as a Christian counselor, friends who will support him and hold him accountable, books on the issue with which he's struggling, and prayer.

• Stay committed. Remember the vows you made to God and your husband on your wedding day, in front of family and friends as witnesses. Decide that you will honor them no matter what. Realize that all marriages must endure struggles, and that all husbands (and wives) have faults. Trust that God can enliven and redeem any marriage, and that He will answer your prayers for your own marriage.

• Argue effectively. Listen more than you talk. Remain calm and keep your voice down. Keep current, leaving old issues behind. Avoid condescending phrases or character attacks. Stick with facts, not speculations. Be ready and willing to ask for forgiveness or offer it. Speak clearly, thoughtfully, and respectfully. Guard your tongue from saying something you will regret later. Pray together. Get to the point. Don't ever mention divorce. Don't use phrases such as "you always" or "you never." Don't shout or scream. Don't give the silent treatment. Don't lie or manipulate. Don't beg or cry. Don't push your husband's hot buttons. Don't bring up past sins or hurts. Choose your timing wisely when approaching your husband about a controversial issue. Consider scheduling an appointment to discuss it together. Don't go to bed angry. Remember that your husband is not your enemy. Don't fight against him; fight with him to find a good solution for both of you.

• Respect your husband. Decide to treat your husband with respect whether or not you think he deserves it. Respect him because God created him and loves him. Choose to obey God by offering your husband respect no matter what your circumstances. Ask God to give you the positive attitude you need to make that choice. Notice your husband's good qualities and overlook some of his faults. Know that you can love your husband even when he's wrong, as God loves him unconditionally. Regularly take an inventory of the blessings God has given you. Then take the time to thank Him for them. Strive to be content and at peace. Depend on Jesus to help you through whatever struggles you face. Ask God what He wants you to learn from your trials. Keep your eyes focused beyond your circumstances to God.

• Encourage your husband. Remember that words have great power to either build someone up or tear someone down. Speak encouraging words to your husband whenever you can. Strive to be the companion your husband desires. Schedule a date with him at least once a month, and take anniversary trips together if possible. Build as much time into your schedule as you can simply to be together in relaxing ways, doing things you both enjoy. Regularly make eye contact, touch each other, smile at each other, and pray together. Work to build a great friendship with your husband.

• Fan the flames of your physical attraction. Spend time with God in prayer to develop the inner beauty that comes from the fruit of the Spirit. Take care of the body God has given - the temple of His Spirit - by making healthy choices and striving to look your best. Get enough exercise and sleep; eat wholesome, unprocessed foods; update your hairstyle, makeup, and wardrobe; and smile. Don't use sex as a weapon by withholding it from your husband when you're angry at him. Instead, work at becoming a great lover and see how the connection you develop with your husband improves your relationship. Flirt with your husband during the day in anticipation of a romantic evening. Be creative about your lovemaking places and techniques.

• Manage money responsibly. Ask God to help you distinguish between wants and needs and develop wise plans for spending, saving, giving, and investing. Work together with your husband to create a budget and maintain it. Be loving and respectful as you discuss financial matters.

• Manage your household well. When dividing up your domestic tasks, take into account the unique skills and interests that you and your husband have. If both of you find a particular chore distasteful, work it out without grumbling or nagging. Decide to serve by always striving to do more than your fair share. Organize your possessions so that everything has its proper place. Organize your time by choosing wisely how you will spend it.

• Grow spiritually. Spend regular time in prayer to develop the intimacy with God that will help you become a more positive person. Pray for your husband's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Read the Bible regularly and ask God what He would like you to learn from what you read. In all you do, view your husband as a gift from God and strive to be a good gift to him.

Adapted from The Power of a Positive Wife, copyright 2003 by Karol Ladd. Published by Howard Publishing Co., Inc., West Monroe, La., www.howardpublishing.com.

Best-selling author Karol Ladd offers lasting hope and biblical truth to women around the world through her positive book series. A gifted communicator and dynamic leader, Karol is founder and president of Positive Life Principles, Inc., a resource company offering strategies for success in both home and work. Her vivacious personality makes her a popular speaker to women's organizations, church groups and corporate events. She is co-founder of a character-building club for young girls called USA Sonshine Girls and serves on several educational boards. Karol is a frequent guest on radio and television programs. Her most valued role is that of wife to Curt and mother to daughters Grace and Joy. Visit her Web site at www.PositiveLifePrinciples.com.