Brier Jirka is a sex therapist with the Methodist Physicians Clinic Women’s Center. She blogs every other Tuesday for livewellnebraska.com. Read more from Brier here.
Thanksgiving is over, now comes the rush of Christmas and New Year’s. There is shopping to be done, parties to attend and family gatherings to plan for – all while doing what we do every other month of the year.
The holidays can be incredibly stressful and take a paramount toll on our relationships with our partners. Our relationships take a back seat to the to-do list this time of the year, which can heighten the stress levels in your home.
So how do you and your partner survive the season and maintain a strong relationship during all the craziness? Here are some ideas I often share with the couples I see in therapy.
• It’s okay to be selfish. There should be no guilt about saying NO to party invite or wanting to order takeout instead of cook. Being selfish often gets a bad rap, but no one knows your needs as a couple better than you and your partner.
• Don’t wait for the perfect moment to have quality time. Something else will always pop or get in the way, especially during the holidays. So don’t let it take priority over your quality time.
• Be extra affectionate – extra kisses, extra hugs, and extra cuddles on the couch. You may only have a minute or two each day, but choose to make the most of it.
• Plan a special gift exchange with your partner. You don’t have to spend money – maybe you write a letter or go to a special place that means something to you both. Keep it simple, yet meaningful. I sent one couple to a dollar store and told them to find something that reminded them of their spouse and share it with them. Make it a game.
• Set a date night. Get a sitter, call a neighbor or a friend, and offer to exchange child care with another couple. The important thing is to set aside time to spend with JUST each other. Realistically, it’s hard to make this happen, but a date night can also be spent at home after the kids are asleep. The goal is just to find yourselves enjoying time together.
• Sit with your partner and talk about what you want to do differently in 2013 to make the marriage or relationship stronger. Pick one goal for the year and push yourself to be a better person. This will make you and your relationship stronger.
At the end of the day, if your marriage is not a priority it will show. If you find that you’re both struggling, figure out exactly what’s keeping you from spending time together outside of the to-do list.
At one point in time, you chose and dedicated yourself to this relationship. This time of the year, when everything is so hectic, take a minute to refocus on that partnership.
When all is said and done, the holidays are not about the gifts, the shopping or the food – it’s about being with those you care about. Happy Holidays to all!