Janissa and Karla appear on my screen. Their mouths are tense, they avoid eye contact, and when I ask them what troubles them, they say, „We are afraid of the holidays. At best, we argue, and at worst, we don’t speak to each other.“ The other couples in the group nod in agreement. It turns out that the most wonderful time of the year (think jingle bells and singing elves) can have potential negative effects on your relationship. When I ask the couples in my online program how they bring romance, togetherness, and even spice to their holiday season, there is silence. And this holiday stress is frequently reported – no matter what you celebrate or how you celebrate it.
In this video, I discuss the common stressors and disappointments that can arise during this busy time and what can be done about it. Additionally, I share some romantic date ideas to help you develop new rituals of connection and make this holiday season sexy.
I have always loved the story „How the Grinch Stole Christmas.“ The Grinch is an angry, isolated misanthrope who hates all the commotion, decorations, family, and festivities that come with the holidays. He particularly hates the noise. So, he vows to steal the gifts, lights, and even the feast – just so he can have some peace and quiet. Sound a little familiar?
Even if you may not be ready to let the holidays pass completely, there are some common complaints that couples report. Common stressors during the holiday season include:
– Issues with the extended family
– Money matters
– Doing too much and having unrealistic expectations
Too often, couples neglect their romantic relationship during the holidays. But I want to turn this unhealthy pattern around. I encourage couples to use the holidays as a beautiful reminder to show love to their partner, appreciate them, and find ways to make them shine.
To prevent you from becoming a relationship Grinch, here are some ideas to help you add romance and spice to your holiday celebrations this year:
Create new rituals of connection to make this holiday season sexy.
1. Our Story
Take a trip down memory lane. Share memories of your first holiday together – did you meet your partner’s family for the first time? Did you stress over the perfect gift or celebration? Then share memories of your best, worst, busiest, and most peaceful holiday seasons… you get the idea. Use your smartphone and old-fashioned photo albums to reminisce.
2. Holiday Movie Night
Whether it’s the Grinch stealing Christmas, Bruce Willis in „Die Hard,“ or „Love Actually,“ choose a holiday film that you both will enjoy. Or make two choices – one each. Prepare holiday snacks and drinks, turn off all distractions, and cuddle while watching. Bonus points? Give each other a foot massage.
3. Attend a Live Holiday Performance
Maybe a choir, a play, a live band show with a holiday theme, or even your granddaughter’s school holiday concert? This year, my husband and I have tickets to a holiday performance by the Vancouver Gay Men’s Chorus and a puppet interpretation of „A Christmas Carol.“ Bonus points? Hold hands, kiss during intermission, and then go for dessert and talk about some of the highlights of the past year together.
4. The Sexy Stocking Challenge
Create a romantic and sexy stocking or gift bag. Then, take turns leaving “secret” little notes, gifts, memories, special words, or secrets that you share, gratitude, old photos or mementos – anything that reminds you of the love you have shared over the years. Be sure to include a sexy element – perhaps a spicy game (I love truth or dare cards), some high-quality lube, or a special toy from Santa’s adult workshop. Open these together on Christmas morning, or during Hanukkah, or at a time that is meaningful for you.
5. Speak Your Mind
Write a love letter. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. But the power of the written word is hard to beat. Tell your loved one what they mean to you, what you appreciate, and why you always choose them. You can slip it into your sexy stocking or share it anytime… Bonus points for a date and sharing your letters over a romantic meal or sharing them naked in bed.
6. Give Back
The best part of the holidays is practicing generosity towards others – not only to those who are close to our hearts but also to those who may not have anyone close to their hearts. Some ideas include assembling a food and gift basket for needy families through your local church, synagogue, mosque, or a non-profit organization. Support a charity that you haven’t supported before and make a donation.
7. Prioritize Your Relationship
Ultimately, it’s up to you how you feel during the holidays. I encourage you to examine what serves you and what doesn’t – and to shape the next few weeks to fit your top priorities. And I know that your romantic relationship is a huge priority. So, don’t take your partner for granted. Remember how much effort you put into your first holiday together to make them fall in love with you. And then, I promise to do it again this year. Maybe, just like the Grinch, you’ll see through all the fancy trappings and discover that true joy lies in simply having a hand to hold. When we remember what really matters, our heart can grow three sizes. And that goes for our love too.