Does your relationship get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Holidays can be busy. I often hear couples get caught up in making everyone happy, that they forget to focus on their number one relationship- their marriage! It can be hard to stay connected during the holidays.

Here are some easy tips to make sure that you and your mate don’t lose your spark this holiday season!

  • Set reasonable expectations- Make sure you discuss early on what YOU as a couple want for the holidays. Make sure you are on the same page about what to buy, how much to spend, and your hopes for gifts and events to attend.
  • Say No- You don’t have to accept every invitation to parties and events. I know you might be worried about hurting others feelings. However, if you feel stretched to the max, saying no will free up some chances for couple time.
  • Make a shopping date- Get a babysitter and make your shopping trip a date. Grab some dinner and hit the malls!
  • Start your own traditions as a couple- Pick out your favorite movie, bake cookies, or drive around to look at Christmas lights together. Make sure you both have a say so on picking the traditions. It’s no fun “dragging” someone along.
  • Get rid of the “Bah-Humbug” Attitude- It’s hard to connect with a grump. Practice positive thinking by filling in the blank “At least ______” in every situation. This helps you find a positive even when things are rough.
  • Play!- When you walk down the toy aisle, grab a foam sword and battle it out. Or how about an old fashion snowball fight at the first snow? Laughter really helps to ignite the spark.
  • Pay it forward together- The holiday season is a great time to give back to your community and people in need. Volunteering together can bring you closer and can refocus your priorities together.
  • Slow down and breathe- Set a time every 2 or 3 days to have a half hour of chill time. Let the dust settle and focus on each other.
  • Process family drama with empathy- Time with family can spark some negative connections. Make sure that you talk about the issues with empathy and put yourself in their shoes. Getting defensive tells your partner that you don’t want to hear it. Even if you disagree, it’s important to hear them out, validate their feelings (“I see how you would feel that way”), and ask if there is anything they need from you to help. Sometimes just saying “I know my mom can be overwhelming sometimes” can make your spouse feel heard.
  • Make sure you spend time with each other at events- when you go to a party or gathering and spend the whole time apart, you might miss an opportunity to connect. Make a point to connect several times throughout the event by asking them if they want something to drink, introducing them to someone new, showing random affection when you are walking through a room, etc. Tell your partner they matter and that you are thinking of them through simple kind gestures. Getting lost in the crowd or ignoring can cause your spouse to feel unimportant.
  • Leave room for romance- Whether it’s snuggling by the fireplace or dancing to music by the Christmas tree, make sure you show your partner that they are loved and wanted.
  • Give a gift that shows love- What does your partner REALLY want and need? Try to give a gift that meets their love language. It might not be a present under the tree that means the most. Maybe it’s a morning to sleep in, a weekend golf trip, all the laundry being done and put away, a handwritten letter or poem that says how much you care, a back or foot rub, or an overnight stay at a bed and breakfast. Try to send the message, “Not only do I love you, but I ‘get’ you”.

I hope you are able to refocus your energy on connecting in your marriage this holiday season! Do you have any other tips and stories about ways you’ve kept your spark during such a hurried time?