Many wives simply follow their feelings when deciding how to treat their husbands. If their spouses please them, then they dole out love and respect in equal measure. But if not, they either withdraw from the intimacy of a close relationship, or try to cajole their husbands into making them happy.

Although that's the most popular way to approach marriage in our society, it simply doesn't work. No husband exists who can please his wife all the time. Keeping score only leads to frustration, and feelings change constantly. God offers a more challenging, yet much more effective marriage model. Wives who dare to follow it will be deemed politically incorrect. But they'll also enjoy healthier marriages full of the joy that God intends every marriage to have.

Here are some ways you can become the kind of wife God wants you to be:

• Understand your God-given role. Know that God has called wives to be helpers. Don't misunderstand the word "helper," thinking that it implies inferiority. Realize that God has referred to Himself throughout the Bible as a "helper." The word simply means someone who give assistance or support to another, making life more pleasant or bearable. Read the story in the book of Genesis of how God created Adam and Eve, and notice that God created a woman so the man wouldn't feel alone. Know that God doesn't want your husband to feel lonely, but to know that he can count on your full presence and encouragement in his life.

• Decide that you'll offer your husband agape love. Make up your mind to love him no matter what. Ask God to help you, trusting that He will give you the power you'll need. Vow never to consider separation or divorce, don't entertain thoughts of men from your past, don't compare your husband to others, and don't speak negatively about him to others.

• Don't play the blame game. Know that God fully understands the circumstances of your life, but asks you to be faithful in the midst of them. Don't blame your husband, kids, schedule, finances, or anyone or anything else for your own unloving attitudes and behaviors. Take responsibility for your own choices and realize that your love or lack of love for God is demonstrated by your obedience or lack of it. Remember that you should live to please God, whether or not you think your husband deserves to be treated with love. Stop keeping score and strive to be obedient to God instead.

• Act in love, and your feelings will follow. Choose to act in loving ways no matter how you currently feel about your husband. If you don't feel love for him, start acting the way you want to feel. Then, as you do, watch how your loving actions transform your feelings until you actually do feel love toward him.

• Forgive. Realize that you must forgive other people and seek God's forgiveness for yourself. Not doing so blocks your intimacy with God and poisons your heart with bitterness. Trust that God will always help you to forgive. Remember that the power of His death on the cross has made true forgiveness possible. Forgive freely and often, knowing that the power to forgive is limitless. Know that there is never any problem in your marriage that's beyond God's power to forgive to set both you and your husband free.

• Abide in Christ. Cultivate a close relationship with Christ by depending on Him and focusing on His strength, sufficiency, and enabling power. Strive to be aware of His presence with you at all times, and to enjoy spending time with Him. Spend time regularly in prayer and reading the Bible, listening for Him to speak to you.