Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Susie Davis' new book, Loving Your Man Without Losing Your Mind, (Regal Books, 2007).

It doesn’t take long after you’ve been married to discover that the man of your dreams is far from perfect and that marriage is much harder than you’d ever imagined. When marriage’s demands push at you, it can feel like your husband is driving you crazy. But, no matter how you feel, if you choose to act in love toward your husband, you’ll start to see your marriage change for the better.

Here’s how you can love your husband – even when he drives you crazy – and start to enjoy a better marriage as a result:

Act the best with the one you love most. Instead of giving your husband the worst of your behavior because you take him for granted (while you’re on your best behavior with other people), decide to give him the best. Don’t allow everyday frustrations and irritations to cause tension in the way you interact with your husband. Determine that, no matter what, you’ll try to speak kindly to him and treat him well. Choose to communicate your affection for your husband through your words and actions on a regular basis. Let him know that you appreciate and admire him.

Fight fairly. Expect to experience conflicts with your husband; that’s a normal part of any healthy relationship. Know that it’s okay to disagree with him – but when you do, you need to handle the conflict in ways that honor God and each other. Get real with each other, speaking honestly about what’s at the root of your conflicts. But express yourself in appropriate ways, without avoiding each other in sullen resentment, screaming at each other, or demeaning each other. Instead, show respect for each other. Instead of letting anger control you, use your anger to motivate you to seek mutually agreeable solutions to problems. Choose your battles; be willing to let some things go when arguing about them just isn’t worthwhile.

Give him the respect he needs. Understand that all men have a deep need for respect, so do your best to give your husband respect. Make a decision to do so simply because God calls you to, even if you don’t think your husband deserves it. Rather than making assumptions about your husband’s motives or behavior, discuss your concerns with him. Always be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maintain his privacy by refraining from sharing potentially embarrassing information about him with others. Give him the emotional space he needs to resolve conflicts. When talking with him, pay attention to your tone of voice, body language, word choices, and timing to make sure they’re respectful.

Accept the gender differences between you and your husband. Instead of expecting your husband to relate to you as a woman would, recognize that he has a different natural way of communicating. Know that men often focus on facts rather than feelings, and try to solve problems rather than empathize. Ask God to help you accept and love your husband as He does – unconditionally. Choose to love your husband rather than seeking love, and decide to try to understand him instead of trying to get him to understand you. Trust that, in the process, God will use your marriage to help you grow into a stronger person. Appreciate the different perspective that your husband brings to your marriage, and make time to listen and consider his views regularly.

Get rid of Prince Charming. Forget the mistaken idea that your husband should like a perfect prince ready to rescue you from all your troubles and meet all your needs. Realize that he is just what God made him to be – a regular guy who’s your companion through life. Let go of your unrealistic expectations. Instead of turning to your husband for your happiness, strength, and security, depend on the only One who can truly provide that – God. Make sure that God is your top priority; give your greatest love and devotion to Him alone. Release your husband from the pressure of having to live up to impossible expectations and give him the freedom to be who he is. Remember that, as an imperfect human being, your husband will sometimes fail you, but you can always count on God.

Move beyond a stalled relationship. If you’re not seeing the growth you hope to see in your relationship, don’t nag your husband about it. Instead, ask God to show you the ways in which you need to change yourself, and focus on your own personal growth. Know that, while you can’t change your husband, you can change the dynamic of your marriage if you change yourself. Pray for forgiveness for any contempt you have for your husband. Rather than lecturing your husband about concerns you have about him, pray for the wisdom to know what to say, and when and how to say it best.

Redefine romance. Recognize that true romance isn’t about fancy dinners or chocolate, beautiful jewelry or flowers, or a glamorous trip to a secluded island – it’s all about unconditional love in a covenant commitment. Seek to create a love story between you and your husband that only the two of you know – one that builds intimacy through both good and bad times, and keeps getting more and more exciting because you keep learning more and more about each other, no matter how long you’ve been married. If your husband is steady, reliable, honest, and true, be grateful for him, realizing that such qualities are much more romantic than a man who gives you glamorous gifts but can’t be counted on to be there for you no matter what. Keep up a love affair with your husband for the rest of your lives together, expressing your affection in fresh ways every day.

Be willing to yield. Instead of just plowing ahead with your own agenda when you and your husband face decisions, choose to consider your husband’s needs before your own. Realize that by being unselfish and loving, you’ll help create a marriage that will bless you as well. Understand that it’s not your husband asking you to yield in your marriage; it’s God. Decide to honor God by pursuing His design of mutual submission in marriage. Trust that God knows what’s best for both you and your husband. Seek and follow His will.

Express your attraction. Don’t take your husband for granted. Realize that if you don’t show and tell him how much you appreciate him, someone else likely will, and your marriage will become vulnerable to an affair. No matter how busy you are, don’t forget to let your husband know each day that you’re attracted to him. Thank God for the gift of your husband, despite his flaws. Think about the qualities that first attracted you to your husband, and appreciate them today. Let your husband know that he’s much more than just a roommate to you; show him that you think he’s hot.

Pursue a healthy sexual relationship. Understand that a lack of sex creates a serious imbalance in your husband’s psyche and damages your marriage. Realize that sex with you is the only healthy way your husband can fulfill his sexual desires, and that God intends for both of you to enjoy a fulfilling sex life together. Don’t let any distractions or tensions rob your marriage of that. Pursue sex with your husband so you’ll both feel loved, connected, and treasured.

Make enough space in your life for your husband. Take inventory of how you’re spending your limited time and energy, and consider how much is truly left for your husband after you invest in your kids, career, volunteer work, friends, etc. Make the changes necessary to put your husband second in your life – above everyone and everything else except God. View your marriage relationship as a lifelong career to pursue with dedication.

Set boundaries. Protect your marriage from affairs by setting appropriate boundaries. Whenever you interact with other men (especially those you find attractive), be sure to avoid flirting with them, dressing immodestly, or engaging in any other behavior that may lead them to believe you’re open to an affair.

Prevent money pressures. Save your marriage the stress that comes from financial difficulties by deciding to stick to a budget on which you both agree and holding each other accountable to it. Ask God to help both you and your husband be content so you can live within your means. If you’re already in debt, consider downsizing your lifestyle so you’ll be free of money pressures can upgrade your marriage.

Remember your husband in the midst of your parenting duties. Don’t let your responsibilities as a mom overwhelm you to the point that you forget to invest in your marriage. Understand that, biblically, your relationship with your husband is even more important than your relationships with your kids. Make a point of helping to meet your husband’s needs each day, even when that means having to say “no” to your kids about some things.

Relate wisely to both of your families of origin. Realize that the way you and your husband relate to each other has been strongly influenced by how you each grew up. Look honestly at each of your families of origin and assess biblically what’s normal and what’s not, and what’s worth bringing into your family and what’s not. Step back from your parents and siblings enough emotionally so you can create a strong bond with your husband. Let go of any bitterness you might have about your relationships with your family members, and count on God’s grace to bring you a better future as you trust Him. Look forward to spending a lifetime with your husband!


Adapted from Loving Your Man Without Losing Your Mind, copyright 2007 by Susie Davis. Published by Regal Books (a division of Gospel Light), Ventura, Ca., www.regalbooks.com.  

Susie Davis is an author and a national speaker. She is the director of Susie Davis Ministries, an event, resource and web-based ministry designed to encourage people to love God, others and self (see Mark 12:30-31). A frequent platform speaker for retreats, conferences and workshops, Susie also team-teaches with her husband, Will, senior pastor at Austin Christian Fellowship. Susie and Will have been married for 22 years, and they have three children: Will III, Emily and Sara. For more information about Susie, visit www.susiedavisministries.com.