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Give Your Relationship a Gift for the Holidays

The song may say "It's the most wonderful time of the year."

But there's one part of life that can seem less than magical during the holiday season – your relationship with your partner. As the holidays loom, exhaustion, lack of communication and an imbalance in family responsibility leave many moms feeling overwhelmed and more than a little ticked off.

"Women are raised to do what I call 'mother sacrifice,'" says Los Angeles relationship expert Stacy Kaiser. "We put ourselves aside for everyone else. It's particularly true at the holidays. We buy the gifts, wrap them, bake, decorate and so on. While we may enjoy all that, we get depleted. And we need someone to fill us back up."

In response, Kaiser says the most common argument guys have is that they wish their wives would be clearer about what kind of help they need.

So how do you bridge the gap? Kaiser says the first step to making the holiday season work is for both parties to take responsibility for their part.

"We women have a very specific vision about things we're invested in; gifts, decorations or the way to set a table. But we rarely want to take the time to be that specific with our partners. We want them to be psychic."

Kaiser says that leaves us with three choices:

  • Let it go and allow him to do it his way.
  • Give specific detailed instructions and relax. If it's not perfect, deal with it.
  • Do it yourself. But if you choose this option, don't complain that it's all on your shoulders.

Choosing one of these options and going with it will do wonders to help your relationship, Kaiser says. "We lose sight of the human being because we get caught up in specific details. Put your relationship first."

After you've cleared the air and set your course, keep things on track by putting romance on your holiday list. Try one, two, or all 5 of these tips to create a holiday spark and release some stress.

Mistletoe. Anyone who says a kiss is just a kiss isn't doing it right. "A kiss is an adrenaline rush," says Kaiser. "It releases endorphins. It's a great stress reliever if you do enough of it. It's the perfect way to connect quickly and sometimes, when you're not in the mood, it will get you there."

Shopping = Mini "Holi-Date." If you're already booking a sitter to go out and shop, why not make it a date? Tip: With stores open late, have the date part first. Because after pushing your way through aisles of toys and cranky crowds, the last thing on your mind will be romance.

12 Days of Christmas. Make a pact. Every day, leave an inexpensive treat or a note for each other in a place where it's guaranteed to be found. When you're busy and apart during the day, knowing someone thought of you feels good and helps create a mood before you're even together.

That's the Ticket. The most romantic gifts are those you can share together. Forget the kitchen gadgets and toolbox this year. Find a concert or event you can experience together and give each other a ticket for the holidays. Plus, it's something you can look forward to after the chaos is over!

Silent Night. Communicate without talking. Try pulling your partner close and spend even just five minutes dancing to your favorite holiday tunes. Dancing is one of the most intimate things you can do in public or private. Don't believe it? Try it. Kaiser says "It's a quick and easy way to connect. People always complain they don't have time. Everyone has time for that."

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