"Getting through the holidays isn't always easy, especially when it comes to your relationship," says sexual health expert Dr. Hilda Hutcherson. Despite the challenges, the director of the Center for Sexual Health at Columbia University believes the holidays actually provide an opportunity to improve your relationship. We caught up with Dr. Hutcherson, and she gave us five tips for turning the stressful season into a sensual one. Check 'em out!
- Make time for date nights. "Just as you set aside time on your calendar for a cookie swap and office party, reserve at least two nights just for you and your partner," advises Dr. Hutcherson. And she suggests letting Winter inspire your date ideas. "Take a walk to admire the decorations in your neighborhood and keep warm with a cup of hot chocolate," she says, or "grab an hour or two and go ice skating at a local rink."
- Use sexy stocking stuffers. "Who says toys are just for kids?" Dr. Hutcherson asked us. She thinks we should spice up our stockings. "For the more tame, grab massage oil and some candles; they will not only set the mood for more romance, but a soothing rubdown can ease even the most tense of partners." As for the adventurous givers, "a vibrator is sure to get her engine revving and rid her mind of any yuletide blues. Looking to fall somewhere in between? Take it up a notch with an arousal gel to heighten sexual pleasure and sensitivity, like the KY Date Night Packs."
- Make sexolutions. "We take the time to focus on our finances, waistline, and jobs come Jan. 1," says Dr. Hutcherson, "but why not our relationships?" Her tip for making them last: "Take small steps and gradually build up to a great result. For instance, don't make a promise to have more or better sex, be more specific — have sex once a week, try out a new position once a month, enjoy a date night twice per month."
- Don't underestimate the power of cuddling. Since we're so busy during the holiday season, we have to make the most of the time we do have alone with our partners. Dr. Hutcherson says, "In times when intimate endeavors may not be an option, like when the in-laws are in town, find ways to take advantage of alone time by flirting, touching, and cuddling. Though brief, these simple, yet effective connections will give your body and brain a little respite from holiday stress."
- Deck the halls and your bedroom. "Your bedroom should be your sanctuary — after all, nothing quite ruins the mood like tripping over wrapping paper, laundry, or the kids' toys while en route to the bed," consults Dr. Hutcherson. "De-stress and deactivate not only by decluttering the room, but by adding some inspiring touches; think scented candles or maybe a set of new sheets."