(By Susan Dutton Freund, thinkmarriage.org)

What if a couple took the time to celebrate their love on each one of the 12 days of Christmas?

When most people think about the holiday season they think of spending time with friends and family and enjoying the spirit of the season. While all of that is fun, the reality is that the holidays can also add stress and activity to your everyday life. Often times, this means that a couple puts their relationship on the back burner and uses “divide and conquer” on daily tasks just to get everything done.     Here’s 12 ideas to help you deliberately invest in the health of your relationship this holiday season.

1.     Write a love letter. Love letters often become treasured heirlooms that are saved for a lifetime. Put your love into words and give a very special gift.

2.     Hold hands for five minutes or more. Sometimes something as simple as physical touch can reconnect a couple.

3.     Get home from work early and make your spouse’s favorite dinner. He or she will appreciate your efforts and will love to find a home-cooked meal waiting after a hectic day at work.

4.     Tackle the pile of gifts that need to be wrapped, together!

5.     Finish this sentence: “I appreciate…” For example: “I appreciate you bringing me a cup of coffee this morning. You do that a lot, and it really helps me to start the day feeling loved.” Do this five times today.

6.     Have a date night. With all of the holiday parties to attend, it’s easy to let this one slip. But having a date night (where it is just the two of you, not the two of you in a crowd of all your friends) will give you the time to focus just on each other. Spend the date talking about your dreams for your future together.

7.     Watch a classic holiday movie together. Then talk about what you liked after the movie is over.

8.     Share your favorite holiday traditions you had while growing up with your spouse. Talk about what traditions you two have built together and how it has enriched your family.

9.     Go for a walk right after a light snowfall. Even a walk around the block is an opportunity to connect after a long day.

10.  Meet for lunch during a work day. Commitments increase during the holidays. Meeting for lunch guarantees some time together when you just can’t fit one more thing into the day.

11.  Bake holiday cookies together. It’s a great activity that can become a holiday tradition for the two of you.

12.  Volunteer. Helping a worthy cause is a great way to remember what the holidays are about.

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