The holidays bring a lot our way, not the least of which is serious stress. So it should come as no surprise that many married couples, harried after the holidays, have a little trouble getting back on track. "Couples find themselves focused on all the additional demands, and these take up a great deal of time, focus and energy — which too often leaves their relationship near or at the bottom of their priority list,' explains Toni Coleman, psychotherapist and relationship coach.
So once the season winds down, "it is very helpful to get back into your routine," says Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage. Here, our experts give you their best tips on how to get back into that intimate, loving routine and reconnect with the one you love.
1. Plan a date night out alone or with another couple.
While you were often out during the hustle-and-bustle of the holidays, your time away from home wasn't lightly spent talking over candlelight or relaxing with your closest couple friends. So it's time to take "an evening that isn't about taking care of the house, kids, other family members," says Coleman. "Spend an evening of silly fun doing something you both enjoy."
2. Spend a night away from it all.
You surely traveled this holiday season, and the last thing you may want to do is pack another overnight bag. But spending uninterrupted one-on-one time away from your daily routine and household responsibilities can give you the time you desperately need to "focus on each other and your relationship," says Doares. "You can regain your relationship footing and start the new year off on the right track."
3. Make sex a priority.
Coleman says you'll never run out of reasons to say you'll get down "later" or "tomorrow" — especially when you're recovering after the holidays. "When you're trying to recuperate, everything feels like a new demand, even sex," she says. But reconnecting on an intimate, sexual level this new year is so important. "So set the mood, make a date, and have fun," Coleman says. "You don't need to do anything special, and don't set your expectations too high. It should be about intimacy, pleasing your partner, and just being together in the moment."
4. Make relationship resolutions for the new year.
When you sit down to pen your 2016 goals, don't forget to grab your spouse and write down what you'd like to do this year for your relationship. "This gets you focused on what's working and what you would like more of in the coming year," explains Doares. "Lay out the steps you each are willing to take to reach these goals and have a way to measure your progress. Paying attention to your relationship and acting with intention keeps you from taking it and each other for granted."
5. Say one positive, supportive thing to your partner once a day.
Your partner pulled his or her weight during the holiday season, but you may have been too busy yourself to take the time to acknowledge his or her help. Now's the time to properly thank him or her, says Coleman, as a way to reconnect. "Something as simple as saying, 'it really made my morning when you brought me my coffee,' will help you connect to one another," Coleman says. "Connecting in simple, small ways is an important foundation for relationship happiness."
"Let's face it," says Coleman. "We can get on each other's nerves, especially when we are tired and overworked." And that often happens right after the holidays, when we find ourselves exhausted from a combination of travel, spending major moolah, and nonstop activities. So by letting the little stuff go post-holidays, "your actions will get noticed and be appreciated," promises Coleman. "It sends the message that it just isn't important — not compared to all the good that outweighs it."