Editor's Note: This is the first article in a two-part series on transforming your marriage.

If I asked you “What makes your husband feel loved?” would you be able to tell me?

As I interviewed hundreds of wives for my newly-released book, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband,  I discovered most wives are more focused on what their husband’s aren’t doing to meet their expectations than on what they can do to make him feel loved.  

I, too, was once in that camp. I continued to let my husband know how he was failing to meet all my needs and expectations. Poor guy. I never thought to ask him how I could meet his.

Then I decided that if transformation was really going to happen in my marriage, it had to start with me. So I prayed: “God, help me to love him as You do. And as I do that, I trust You will take care of the rest.”

God is faithful. He will always bring about transformation when we are willing for it to start with us. And I’ve found that “Change me, God” is a much more effective prayer than “God, please change my husband.”

As I began to focus on loving my husband as God loves me, transformation began in my marriage. God began to turn my husband’s heart around toward me. In other words, the less I complained about what he wasn’t doing and the more I focused on loving him for the sake of loving him (and not to get something out of it),  the more he began showing love to me, as well. Or maybe I just began to notice it for the first time. Regardless of whether he  changed or my perspective changed, the fact is that my marriage changed – for the better.  And it can happen in your marriage, too.  

Love Him in Spite of His Faults

When I asked husbands who had been married 10-40 years to tell me what makes them feel loved by their wives, nearly all of them alluded to their wives’ responses to them in light of their mistakes and failures. Listen to their responses from their hearts:

*I feel loved when she accepts me without feeling the need to fundamentally change who I am.

*I know she loves me when she upholds my character and personality to others and doesn’t feel the need to apologize for who I am or explain it to others.

*I see her love in the way she’s always willing to start over.

*She can show me she loves me by still being nice to me even when I’m a jerk.

*She doesn’t compare me to others; she doesn’t try to change me.

*By telling me I am a great husband and father and that she is fully satisfied with who I am today and not who she hopes I can be molded into tomorrow.

*When she tells me and others that she is honored with who her husband is, I know that she loves me for who I am.

*When I come home, my wife might do something that irritates me and rather than giving her grace, I’ll snap at her. But despite things I’ve done, which have been very unattractive, she still extends grace to me.

*She loves me in spite of myself, just like God does.

Did you hear it? The sound of humility from husbands who realize they’re not so easy to love? The gratitude that they’re even loved in the first place? The conviction of their  own behavior which happens when they see their wives being selfless?  

Your husband does notice when you love and accept him, even when he’s not being so lovable. In fact, he notices it especially when he’s not being so lovable. Your husband may be tough, but he is also tender on the inside. And if you dig deep enough, you will find in him a heart like yours – longing to be loved and appreciated for who he is, and wanting to be forgiven for the times he blows it.