The holidays are a time of great expectations and high pressure. This can get in the way of intimacy, both emotional and sexual, and even end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy as efforts to make things perfect end up distracting us from what is most important. Keep that in mind, so you don’t end up feeling like you missed out this holiday season, and use this time of year as a chance to grow closer.
Stay grounded and centered, prioritize what is really important this year, and don’t let fun distract you from what matters most. Of course, where fun and significance overlap is the “sweet spot” to aim for, but they don’t always mix well. So many people are desperate and lonely and in need. Think ahead to January, and imagine what you could regret, and what you would feel grateful for having experienced this year.
1. Enjoy food and drink in moderation: Part of the holiday joy is breaking bread and sharing libations and good cheer with friends and family and strangers. During the holidays, everyone is friends. However, if you eat so much that you can’t move or drink too much, you won’t be able to enjoy moments of intimacy. So enjoy in moderation.
2. Carve out quiet time together: The holidays can be super-hectic, leaving us jumping from one event to the next, running around and getting presents, fighting crowds, cooking, and planning for parties so much so that we lose sight of the importance of time with loved ones. So use some forethought, and make sure you schedule in protected time together, perhaps during the day before parties if you know the evenings are going to go bacchanalian and leave you (more or less) out-of-commission that night, and into the next morning.
3. Plan a Valentine’s Day in the winter: Think of the winter holiday seasons as an opportunity for romance, akin to Valentine’s Day, spread out over a few weeks, and without all the pressure of Valentine’s Day to be romantic. Share your fantasies, and use this time as a chance to play them out; think of it as a romantic, intimate period of time, and do what people without heat do, and snuggle to stay warm. Talking about sex in the right ways makes sex and relationships overall more satisfying. This is also a good way to figure out better techniques for enhancing pleasure, and try them out.
4. Make it meaningful: The winter holidays are a time of naturally increased significance, I believe not just because of cultural reasons, but also because of the deep evolutionary significance of the winter as a threat to well-being. Winter historically (and sadly at present for many unfortunate people) is a time of starvation and cold. Community provides safety and support, the sharing of resources, and good will. Take this time to reflect on what is important with those closest to you. Higher general relationship satisfaction enhances sexual satisfaction, and vice versa.
5. Save conflict for another time: Because we are together more with our families over the holidays than usual, there are more chances for unconstructive conflict. Issues with our own families of origin may come up which are unresolved, problems with our partner’s families may get kicked up (especially if there is tension about who to see and on what days), and our own underlying relationship issues may be brought to the surface by the pressure to reflect on the old year and try to make the next year better. All of these issues, with a few important exceptions, are best left for another time. Talk about it, and plan to deal with issues constructively in another setting, so you can clear up the holidays for unadulterated cheer.
Originally published at www.psychologytoday.com.