I sometimes hear from people who are trying to save their marriages, but who aren't sure if things are going as well as they had hoped. Many people tell me that things feel very awkward or “forced” and they are worried that this means that they are just not going to make it.

A wife might say, in part: “I do believe that we are both committed to saving our marriage and we are both on our best behavior. In one sense, this is good because we're not fighting nearly as much. But, on the other hand, everything just feels so forced. It's like we're being so nice to each other that it's fake. And I worry that there is no real feeling behind it. I almost wish he was yelling at me because at least then I would know that he was expressing honest feelings. Does the fact that things feel forced mean that our marriage can't be saved?” I'll try to address these concerns in the following article.

It's Normal And Expected For Things To Feel Forced In The Beginning Stages Of Trying To Save Your Marriage: When you are trying to save your marriage, there's a sense of the unknown. You often know what you want to happen, but you aren't sure if this is going to end up being your reality. So it's understandable to be tentative. And because you aren't sure what to expect, you're afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing.  Therefore, you might fall back on what you think is right or acceptable. This is also true of your spouse.

Also, most people have a lot invested in saving their marriages. You desperately want it to work. So you may feel as though you are walking on eggshells because you're afraid of making the wrong step. All of these things can lead to those forced behaviors that we're talking about. But they don't mean that your marriage is doomed. It just means that you are feeling your way. Things will often begin to feel less forced as you start to make some progress, which I'll discuss right now.

Ways To Make Your Relationship Feel Less Forced When You're Trying To Save Your Marriage: The thing that you don't want to do is to swing the other way, meaning you're trying to literally force yourself to feel or act spontaneously when you feel anything but.  As a result, you end up overcompensating. However, if you can put yourself and your spouse in spontaneous, light-hearted situations, then genuine feelings will often follow.

Things feel forced sometimes when you are always focusing on heavy and painful topics – like what is wrong with your marriage or what happens moving forward. You don't need to have all of the answers all of the time. Sometimes, it really helps to put all of the unpleasantries and the unknowns onto the shelf once in a while. It makes sense to focus on reconnecting in fun and pleasurable ways so that when you do go back to those necessary unpleasantries, things fall more easily into place. ( learned this the hard way during my own separation. If I had taken a lighter tone early on, I could have spared myself a lot of frustration. More on that here.)

So don't hold on so tightly that you don't give yourself enough room to breathe or relax. Sometimes, you have to give yourself permission to not worry so much about what will happen tomorrow. You are still married, even if there are problems. You still love this person, even if you are struggling. So there is nothing wrong with enjoying the things that are right. Step outside of your comfort zone from time to time and have some fun with your spouse. You don't need to constantly dwell on your problems when instead you can focus on rediscovering one another in a pleasurable and spontaneous way.

It helps to try to touch your spouse and play in light-hearted ways. Hold hands. Wrestle. Don't feel the need to go further than that if it doesn't feel right to you. Laugh. Don't put so much pressure on yourself that these things don't come naturally.

Sometimes, there is a danger in trying too hard.  Relax and allow things to happen naturally.  When your marriage is in trouble, it is hard to trust the process.  But sometimes, this is exactly what you should do.

I know that my behavior was forced when I was trying to save my own marriage and this made things a lot worse because my husband tended to avoid me. It wasn't until I changed my entire way of seeing my marriage that things began to turn around. If it helps, you can read more about the process of saving my marriage on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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There are links to more articles about saving your marriage at http://isavedmymarriage.com