With financial pressure, time constraints and interfering in-laws, Christmas as a couple can go from “ho ho ho,” to “bah humbug” pretty quickly. We’ve put together a list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you and your man survive holiday stress and maybe even start the new year with a stronger bond.

Don’t: Set your sights too high 
Do: Have realistic expectations 

This rule applies to money, time and sex. We are in the middle of the Great Recession. Don’t expect him to go to Jareds and get you a diamond necklace this year. Be thankful for having someone to love you and be understanding if he gets you a Timex watch instead of a tennis bracelet. Holiday season equals end-of-year deadlines, which equals overtime, which equals less time together. Don’t expect that you and your man will have the quality time that you enjoyed a few months ago.

Try your best to make the moments that you have together count, even if it’s just brushing your teeth together in the morning or having a quick, loving phone conversation at lunch time. Finally, the stress of the holidays makes you tired, which leads to a lower sex drive. While we don’t advise that you stop having sex (we’ll explain later), do understand that it might not be as mind-blowing as it was during the summer when you both had half-day Fridays filled with foreplay. The sex will still do its job of relieving stress and strengthening your bond even if it’s kind of lame.

Don’t: Mistake time together for quality time
Do: Make it a point to say “I appreciate you” and “I love you”

It’s easy for us to advise you and your honey to make time for each other during the holidays. However, the fact is, sometimes it’s just not possible to schedule a date and even if you do, you might be too tired to enjoy it. If you can’t spend the required QT that you need, acknowledge that you miss each other and make it point to tell each other “Thank you for being a part of my life. I love you.” If you can’t remember to do it on your own, put a sticky on your fridge or set an alarm on your cell phone.

Don’t: Let your parents run the show
Do: Tell your folks when they need to back down

Sometimes we tend to change our normal at-home practices when the rents are in town, based on internal pressure to make them proud. The sudden attitude adjustment can confuse your boo and your kids, especially if you switch gears from the “easy-going” one to the “disciplinarian.” If your parents are spending time with you for the holidays and want to add their two cents, tell them “Thank you for the input, but I don’t need the change.”  

Don’t: Take a break from sex
Do: Do it even if you’re not in the mood

As feminists, we feel a little guilty telling you to give it up even if you don’t want to. However, if you’re in a healthy relationship in which sex reinforces your bond with your man, we don’t see nothin’ wrong with a little bump and grind. It will help to relieve irritability in both you and your dude, so the little things about each other that can annoy you, won’t seem so bad. Sex releases pheremones, which make you and your mate more attractive to each other, thus making you want to continue getting coital. Furthermore, sex releases endorphins that make you feel really good, so the more sex you have, the more chances you get to have really merry Christmas. And don’t forget to cuddle, for a closer connection, there’s nothing better than after-glow.

Don’t: Shout it out
Do: Take a time out and call your mama

If holiday stress has got you in a mood, try not to tell him off about spending too much on Christmas decorations and waiting until the last minute to tell you about his work holiday party, etc. Before you see red, take a deep breath, pick up the phone and call your mother, or an aunt or a friend that can give you advice about how to handle your temper. Chances are if you take the time to put yourself in his shoes you won’t be so angry. You can also write down all of the things that he’s doing that upset you and try to have a calm conversation with him to come up with solutions to the problems.

Don’t: Drink too much
Do: Cut yourself off

If you have a case of the holiday blues, alcohol can actually increase your bad mood, because alcohol is a depressant. Aside from that, liquor has often been referred to as the truth serum. Having too many glasses of prosseco could lead to you giving your dude a piece of your mind and totally regretting it. It’s fine to have a cocktail or two at a Christmas party, but to limit yourself to just a few. Remember, an open bar doesn’t give you a license to be a lush. Also, boozing lowers your sex drive and as we just said, you don’t don’t want to skimp on the skins during this season.

We hope these helpful hints help you and your boo survive the hectic holidays.

For more holiday-related relationships stories, click here, here and here