Between balancing work, shopping, holiday parties, travel, and family events, it is easy to understand why the holidays are viewed as one of the busiest times of the year. Many perceived obligations become a priority, but one that is often forgotten or pushed too low on the priority list is your relationship. Instead of taking your partner for granted or minimizing your relationship needs, embrace the season of giving and offer the ultimate gift for you and your partner: time.

A gift for your relationship is different from a gift for your partner. It is easy enough to request a wish list from your partner and wrap presents to put under the tree. By all means, still do this. But a gift for your relationship is something more. It is something that attends to both of your relationship needs and helps foster much appreciated connection during this time of year.

Here are some suggestions for ways you can carve out time for your relationship in the season where time is such a precious commodity.

    1. Get out alone.

One bright side of family congregating in the same place is increased options for babysitters. You may feel guilt about skipping out on family time or believe that no family member will want that responsibility. However, you will not know for sure unless you ask, and even a short time out together away from the hubbub can provide great opportunity for intimate connection.

    1. Create relationship resolutions.

Resolutions are not only for individuals and can offer the same refreshed and motivated perks to relationships. A helpful way to begin the New Year is reflecting on how you view your relationship behavior this year and coming up with ideas for you and your partner to improve for next year. Set aside time to discuss ideas with your partner. Perhaps you want to commit to a weekly date night, improve your sex life, or alter the division of labor. The possibilities are endless!

    1. Plan a couple’s vacation.

Treat your relationship to a getaway for just you and your partner to reconnect and savor each other’s company. Assess your financial and time constraints to find an ideal week or weekend in the upcoming year for an escape from reality. Even if you have to look at a possibility several months away, it gives you and your partner something to look forward to and plan together.

    1. Foster small intimate moments.

The gift of time and attention towards your relationship is not only effective in large chunks. Stealing a few moments here and there to hug, hold hands, cuddle, or feel connected in any way are powerful and add up. Be mindful when your partner is trying to connect with you, and be active about creating small moments where you can truly be together. Even if it is one of the busiest times of the year, your relationship can serve as a strength and provide meaningful satisfaction to your holiday season.

    1. Allow for structured spontaneity.

A common complaint from long-term couples is the lack of passion and excitement in the relationship. Often out of necessity, couples fall into routines to help life function more smoothly, and understandably, the longer you are with someone, the less likely he or she is to surprise you. Satisfying relationships find a flexible balance between comfort and mystery, and one way you can feasibly foster this in your relationship is by structuring time for spontaneity.

It may sound like an oxymoron, but structuring spontaneity is often necessary when you lead busy lives. Without setting aside time for your relationship, it is easy for it to slip through the cracks as other priorities surpass what seems like optional relationship needs. Treat yourself and your partner to time dedicated to your relationship. Trade off who is responsible for planning how that time is used. Make a numbered list of couple activities you would like to do together, and randomly select a number and corresponding activity for the next available opportunity.