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Romancing the Holidays

Couples need to make time for each other during this busy season

Do you dread the holidays?

While this festive time can induce warm, memory-filled get-togethers with friends and family, it can also be exhausting and overwhelming. This hectic season can turn into one obligatory appearance after another, and if too many of these appearances are draining rather than delightful, it can take its toll on your relationship. Gone are the visions of cozy nights in front of the fireplace with a steaming cup of rich cocoa or a mellow glass of Port. Instead, you're dealing with noisy gatherings where you barely get a chance to hear each other talk — much less have an intimate moment.

Socializing is important, of course, but the holidays are also a good opportunity for couples to reconnect, get nostalgic and turn cuddles into lovemaking. This year, why not use the season's romantic backdrop — the smell of pine needles, the sound of wonderful choirs in great cathedrals, the taste of special food savored during long, candlelit dinners — to add a spark to your romantic life? Here are five easy steps to help you do that:

1. Just say no. You don't owe everyone an explanation of why you are declining a party or family meal; simply give your regrets when you have accepted your limit. Designate some nights, such as Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve, as couple nights, and stick to your schedule.

Romancing the Holidays

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2. Make couple time. If you can't save as many days or nights as you'd prefer, make a pact to come late or leave early. Make sure part of the evening is reserved for the two of you. Don't always reserve the latest hours when you are too tired to really focus on each other.

3. Do something new. Go window-shopping or take a leisurely stroll on a street bedecked with Christmas lights. Get away from the crowds by going snowshoeing or ice fishing. Or pamper yourselves by spending a day at a spa getting massaged, steamed or whatever else strikes your fancy.

4. Find a place to recharge. Go someplace that allows contemplation, peace and the luxury of a slowed down clock. Take a drawing class, learn Tai Chi, take a walk holding hands in a snowy forest or sit in front of a lodge fireplace and read.

5. Dress up for dinner. Whether you are dining at home or at a restaurant, look especially nice for one another. Primp as if you were going on a date for the first time. Break out a bottle of vintage champagne or something else that marks the evening as special, such as a decadent dessert to share.

What's the point of all this? Couples need a counterweight to the more commercial aspects of the holiday season, as well as the swell of visitors and noise of big parties. We need time together — to be close, to be sensual, to celebrate being a couple. Don't let the holidays run you around. Take the tiger by the tail and use its power to light up your life.