This Holiday Season Many Couples are Asking for Better Sex

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Psychologist who specializes in sexuality says that the bedroom gets a lot less merry during the holidays.

The holidays often take a toll on a couple's sex life and with the added stress of the economic crunch bedrooms across the U.S. are going to be a lot less merry this year

"The holidays often take a toll on a couple's sex life and with the added stress of the economic crunch bedrooms across the U.S. are going to be a lot less merry this year," says Michael Bader, psychologist and author of Male Sexuality: Why Women Don't Understand It--And Men Don't Either (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2009, $29.95, hardcover).

So why do so many couples find their sex lives in the doldrums right around the time that's supposed to be the happiest of the year? A number of factors contribute to this, according to Bader. The first is that depression tends to spike around the holidays. "The expectation of happiness and joy can underscore feelings of sadness and dissatisfaction and for many people the result is holiday-related depression--and depression is incompatible with sexual arousal." Another is the stress that holidays inevitably bring with them. "The pressure to make everyone happy and fulfilled around the holidays is enormous in some families and this can leave mom and dad too exhausted for sex," says Bader. He also sees a third factor at work this year: stress related to the economic pinch so many couples are feeling. "Couples who are struggling financially and unable to indulge in the all-out holiday festivities that they may be used to can feel a sense of inadequacy and shame, which are notorious libido dampeners," he says.

Bader also points to the 'supposes to's' that come with the holidays. "You're supposed to be happy. You're supposed to be joyous. You're supposed to feel loved. You're supposed to feel like celebrating. That's a lot of 'supposed to's' and many people suffer under their weight." This can leave many of us feeling left out and left behind and call to mind past hurts, which in turn undermines sexual excitement and intimacy.

Bader offers these tips to struggling couples:

1)    Find time to spend with each other that doesn't include friends, children, or family.

2)    Be tolerant of feelings of melancholy in yourself and your partner. The more you compassionately anticipate these feelings, the less you'll have to be phony.

3)    Alcohol is a depressant. Try to be restrained in your drinking. You'll find that you'll have more energy for lots of things, including sex.

4)    If your budget is stretched, have a conversation about this in advance to reduce expectations. Consider, instead, giving each other something sexy and romantic that doesn't cost much money, e.g., a special massage, a romantic home-cooked meal, etc.

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Lorna Garano
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