6 Tips for becoming a better wife

Dec 6, 2009 at 6:55 p.m. ET

Like any woman, you'd like to think you're a perfect wife, but with a truthful look at yourself, you'll probably find room for improvement. Becoming a better wife requires not only changing your attitude but also knowing a bit more about how to create a good marriage -- what works and what doesn't, as well as some things to avoid.

Happy couple at home

Don't try to change him

Remember when you thought the way he left his clothes on the floor was cute, or how you shrugged off his complaints when he wanted to stay in instead of go out? Now you find yourself desperately trying to change him. Behavioral experts say you can't change others --  can change only yourself and how you react to them. Anticipate the situation and look for ways other than nagging to handle these situations. Make the laundry hamper easily accessible, and compromise on which social functions you plan to attend.

Be clear on what you want

You've heard before that men are not mind readers, so don't assume that the person with whom you live knows you well enough to know what you want. Our own needs and desires color our perceptions of what others want, so don't be surprised if your husband thinks you both want the same things. If you want something specific, don't pout or beat around the bush; just let him know.

Say "thank you"

Make gratitude a habit. Say "thanks" when he picks the kids up from school, puts in a load of laundry or cooks a special breakfast. Appreciation goes a long way, so be sure to notice the things your husband does.

Let him have "guy time"

Everyone needs a little time for herself -- to relax, enjoy a book, or socialize with friends. If your husband loves golf and you don't, don't bug him about it. People with friends lead longer, more healthful lives, so let him cultivate his relationships with his guy friends just as you like to have your girl time.

Make him a priority

The constant hustle and bustle of work, home and kids makes taking your husband for granted easy. Carve out time for the two of you to reconnect. Take an interest in his work and hobbies by listening, and let him know he's important to you and that he's worth the effort as to try to be a better wife.

Take care of yourself

While most wives don't have time to go glam every day, attention to your appearance through exercise, healthful eating and good grooming will go a long way to maintain a positive attitude. The confidence you exude when you look and feel your best is infectious, and you'll continue to be the vibrant woman with whom he fell in love.

Men truly are not as complicated as we make them out to be. While husbands could use marriage advice as well, we can change only ourselves -- and it's usually our lead that sets the stage for a better marriage.