Nice guys may finish last, but nice girls finish first. That is, if they can remain assertive, empowered and keep their man's respect through dating and on into marriage. You don't have to decide between being tough and being taken. In fact, power struggles will put strain on your marriage. So how can you stay a "good wife" while earning and keeping your husband's admiration?

Know yourself

Know what you want and need out of life and in your partnership. When you treat yourself to the activities you enjoy, you will be more fulfilled and satisfied in the long run, and be happier when you come home. Bickering and resentment build from anxiety and frustration. Do everything in your power to calm those toxic feelings so you can give your husband your sweetest self.

Married ... with intention

Set intentions for your marriage, then work toward them. These could be goals and milestones, but are better kept as long-term, daily aspirations. This means, find the purpose behind your marriage; beyond love and family. Why are you married? To this particular person? How does being married make you both better people? How can you make your husband's day and life better? And vice versa? Do those things you intend, and ask for those things from your spouse.

Mutual contribution

What do you and your husband contribute to each other's lives, and the life of the marriage? How about the household and children? The community? Society? The world? While the home may never be equal grounds for both men and women, there can be equivalency. Have each person do what they're best at, and what they enjoy. If you like cooking but don't like to deal with dishes, ask your Mr. to take care of the cleanup. If you don't mind getting down and dirty with yard work, switch with laundry duties every once in a while. Housework done with a smile won't lead to arguments and accusations of being unappreciated or undervalued. But this goes both ways. If you stay home, thank your husband for working; then ask for gratitude for keeping his castle clean.

Speak sweet, but mean it

Mean what you say and say what you mean. But, whatever you say, say it with love and affection. Don't patronize. Barking at your hubby may give him cues to act like a dog. Lead him with love and respect. He will follow.

Positive rephrasing

When you do need to voice your opinion, do so without directly opposing or challenging your man's "fragile ego." Let him know you don't like something by saying, "I really like this," or, "I prefer that." Instead of a direct, "No," try, "I was thinking more about this," or, "I really wanted to do that." You create an open energy of possibility here, instead of shutting the door and shutting him down. If he's adamant, and it won't take too much out of you to go along, negotiate a fair trade and go ahead with, "OK, and then we can ..." Why shouldn't you get what you want out of it, too?

Being nice by no means keeps you from yielding your personal power and getting everything you want and need in your world, and in your marriage. Staying on your husband's good side will keep you by his side and keep you an ally in his eyes.

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