Marriage Counseling Advice for Better Sex During the Holidays

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Marriage counseling coach Nancy Wasson cautions spouses who don't want to lose sexual sparkle and sizzle during the holidays: "Plan ahead to reduce stress and strain!"

In the rush of the holiday season with its parties, dinners, family get-togethers, gift buying, baking, and celebrations, it's not uncommon for a couple's sexual relationship to flounder, according to marriage counseling expert Nancy Wasson, Ph.D. At such time, expert marriage advice can do much to minimize a couple's marital problems due to sex.

Dr. Wasson says that even partners with a relatively good sex life often feel the strain of holiday pressure. And for mates who already may be on the brink of marriage separation, the added strain of a disappointing sex life can make it difficult to stop divorce.

In Dr. Wasson's experience with couples, she has observed that "Stress and time constraints are a set-up for sex to be a disappointment, non-existent, unsatisfactory, or half-hearted." And if the situation is compounded by a controlling spouse or controlling behavior in an unhappy marriage, a sexual marital crisis increases the likelihood of a slide down toward marriage separation.

Wasson states, "There's no way to 'burn the candle at both ends' and not have it affect your sexual energy eventually. It's not conducive to heightened sexuality to be sleep-deprived, exhausted, stressed, rushed, harried, over-whelmed, and frantic about getting everything done on time."

The holidays can also take an emotional toll with resulting depression and holiday blues. If a family member has died during the previous year, if a marriage is shaky, or if a divorce or marriage of family members has changed the holiday dynamics, there can be deep grieving and pain. These factors can profoundly affect sexual desire.

Wasson advocates that couples openly discuss these issues and plan ahead to reduce sexual tension and conflict during the holidays. That way, they can be proactive in protecting their sexual relationship from holiday stress.

So what marriage advice might a marriage counseling coach have for couples during the holidays?

Dr. Wasson maintains that the following four tips will help you to keep the sparkle and sizzle of your sex life intact:

1. Talk with your spouse about which activities to schedule during the holidays and which to consider leaving out or changing in some way. Stress intensifies when you try to cram too many activities into your days and weeks. Just because something has always been done one way doesn't mean that you can't consider making a change.

2. Schedule some time for yourself--even if it's much more limited than usual. The goal is to take good care of yourself by scheduling some time each day--even if it's only 15-30 minutes--to focus on your needs.

Can you allow thirty minutes for a nap before you go shopping or can you schedule a massage or pedicure? Can you soak in the tub for fifteen minutes or take a twenty-minute walk around the block? What about working out at a gym or at home for thirty minutes?

3. Be realistic about time and energy constraints. The holidays are demanding for most people and require more energy than usual--emotional as well as physical energy.

You might only have time for a "quickie" instead of a more lengthy time together, but that's fine as long as you don't just settle for "quickies" all year long. But they certainly have their place and can add fun and excitement to your day.

4. Remember that intimacy in the bedroom starts in the kitchen, in the laundry room, in the living room--it's about much more than meeting in the bedroom for a romp under the sheets.

Some of you may have seen the saying contained in a widely-circulated email letter that "No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes." Another way of reframing this is that a spouse can accumulate good will points by sharing the housework, chores, and errands--and those good will points can certainly help in the bedroom.

Nancy Wasson, Ph.D., is the co-creator of Overcome Control Conflict with Your Spouse or Partner: What to Do if Your Mate Says You're Too Controlling OR if You're Tired of Being Controlled, available at

She has been a Licensed Professional Counselor for more than twenty years. Dr. Wasson coaches couples in unhappy marriages and provides immediate help through the privacy of telephone and email consultations.

In addition, she is the co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says 'I Don't Love You Anymore!' and offers a free weekly marriage advice newsletter at


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