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CHILLS & THRILLS

From booking a holiday to balancing the finances, how to keep your sex life going in winter despite ‘Seasonal Affection Disorder’

WITH the nights drawing in and temperatures dropping, it is natural to feel a little fed up.

After a summer of fun, cracks can appear in even the happiest relationships.

 Nurse Chloe McMullin and her husband Ben reckon they fall victim to seasonal affection disorder
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Nurse Chloe McMullin and her husband Ben reckon they fall victim to seasonal affection disorderCredit: Wayne Perry - The Sun

If you are starting to find sex a chore, arguments are creeping in and you would sooner watch telly than talk, you might be suffering from a new kind of SAD . . . seasonal AFFECTION disorder.

But how can you stop your relationship falling victim to this annual curse?

Here, CLAIRE DUNWELL talks to a couple who reckon things have got chilly as winter approaches.

And we reveal the tell-tale signs and gets advice from the experts on how to combat the winter relationship blues.

 Nurse Chloe McMullin says, 'moods are definitely set by the seasons'
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Nurse Chloe McMullin says, 'moods are definitely set by the seasons'Credit: Wayne Perry - The Sun

AUXILIARY nurse Chloe McMullin, 27, and her husband Ben, 28, who runs a tow bar company, reckon they fall victim to seasonal affection disorder every year. They live in Callington, Cornwall, with their children Preston, three, and Luna-Rose, one. Chloe says:

OUR moods are definitely set by the seasons. We both flourish in spring and summer. Work is easier, our moods are lighter and even housework is fast-tracked.

 Chloe says, 'Our sex life is amazing during the summer but come the final week of September it’s like a switch has been flicked off and we go from glad to sad'
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Chloe says, 'Our sex life is amazing during the summer but come the final week of September it’s like a switch has been flicked off and we go from glad to sad'Credit: Wayne Perry - The Sun

I planned Preston’s conception so he would be a summer baby and he came along in July 2015. Luna-Rose was also a “sunshine birth” when she arrived in August 2017.

Summer is when we do all our socialising. We are big entertainers and have friends over once or twice a week for a barbecue.

We love taking advantage of the extra sunshine. Every weekend, Ben and I try to take the kids to the beach.

We have a caravan and once a month we head out camping.

Our sex life is amazing during the summer. I love wearing summer dresses that show off my figure. And when I get a tan, I feel sexier. We exercise more and even getting my period is less miserable during the summer.

I work overnight shifts for the NHS, so with early sunrises and later sunsets I get home with time to enjoy the day.

From glad to sad

But every year, come the final week of September, it’s like a switch has been flicked off and we go from glad to sad.

Things that seemed easier the week before suddenly become a drudge.

It’s more noticeable where we live because we are close to the sea.

The darker mornings play havoc with the kids’ schedules. They are hard to wake up and there is always grumbling to find coats and boots for nursery.

Socially, we go into hibernation. Playdates we enjoyed in the summer are almost impossible to organise.

Once the kids are in bed, if I am not working I wear extra-thick pyjamas and spend the evenings watching Netflix.

Ben often falls asleep on the sofa playing on his Xbox.

I set a countdown to spring on my phone because this momma-bear likes to know when she can come out of her cave and see the sun again.

BEN SAYS: “In the summer I always feel I get more done and spend more time with Chloe and the kids.

“We both work long hours and winter is so bleak, it darkens our moods. So many of my friends are SAD sufferers.

“Summer is when we party, enjoy our families and feel much more positive. I am lucky Chloe understands, as she is the same.”

 Chloe says, 'I love wearing summer dresses that show off my figure. And when I get a tan, I feel sexier'
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Chloe says, 'I love wearing summer dresses that show off my figure. And when I get a tan, I feel sexier'Credit: Wayne Perry - The Sun

How to combat the winter relationship blues

 We reveal the tell-tale signs and gets advice from the experts on how to combat the winter relationship blues
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We reveal the tell-tale signs and gets advice from the experts on how to combat the winter relationship bluesCredit: Getty - Contributor

THE MOODY BLUES

LESS sunlight means a dip in the feel-good hormone serotonin, which is linked to happiness and well-being.

As the dark nights draw in, you both feel snappy and irritable and it’s taking its toll on the mood between you both.

Relationship expert Kate Taylor says: “It’s easy to be cheerful in the summer, when the natural lifestyle of sunshine, fresh air, holidays, sex and socialising all help you feel happy.

“Winter, sadly, has the opposite effect and a lack of sunlight can cause moods to dip.

“Beat the blues by booking a sunny holiday if you can. If not, boost your vitamin D levels by walking in the daylight for 30 minutes a day or ramp up your endorphins by exercising together. Experience new things as a couple and you’re bound to feel happier.”

BALANCING THE BOOKS

YOU spent over the summer and suddenly Christmas adverts are on TV and you’re stressing about how you will pay for it.

Business and finance coach Karen Kwong says acknowledging the problem is the first step.

 You spent over the summer and suddenly Christmas adverts are on TV and you’re stressing about how you will pay for it
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You spent over the summer and suddenly Christmas adverts are on TV and you’re stressing about how you will pay for itCredit: Getty - Contributor

She says: “Debt can be a key factor in the breakdown of a relationship, so communication and honesty is key.

“Don’t hide anything. Lying about what you have spent only masks the problem and causes further issues down the line.

“This makes it easier to work together and understand how to budget. Remind each other what is truly important to you about Christmas.

“Respect each other and talk about expectations so you can agree on what you both want and can afford.”

THE PARENT TRAP

LIFE is a whirlwind of school clubs, hobbies and playdates and it is hard work keeping up.

If one of you is carrying too much responsibility then resentment creeps in, which is bound to have a knock-on effect on the relationship.

 Life is a whirlwind of school clubs, hobbies and playdates and it is hard work keeping up
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Life is a whirlwind of school clubs, hobbies and playdates and it is hard work keeping upCredit: Getty - Contributor

Kate says: “Back to school often feels like back to drudgery, as parenting chores kick back in with a vengeance.

“If you are shouldering the burden of football practices, hobbies and packed lunches alone, you’ll soon feel resentful and start to turn away from your other half.

“To redress the balance, divvy up the duties. Don’t control how your partner does their share and look for things you can do together.

“Tidying up the kitchen after dinner gives you a perfect chance to talk about your day, for example.”

TELLY ADDICTS

AFTER a long day at work all you want to do is get home, stick on your PJs and chill out in front of the TV.

While you catch up on the latest Netflix series, he watches football on the iPad. There is no conversation.

 After a long day at work all you want to do is get home, stick on your PJs and chill out in front of the TV
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After a long day at work all you want to do is get home, stick on your PJs and chill out in front of the TVCredit: Getty - Contributor

Kate says: “Between Bake Off, MasterChef, Strictly and The X Factor, most couples won’t have to say a single word to each other between now and Christmas. Is this healthy for your relationship? No.

“Make one evening a week a screen-free zone. Reconnect by playing games, dancing to your favourite music or learning a new skill as a couple. When you do watch TV together, don’t zip through the adverts. Use those minutes to cuddle, kiss and touch.

“Just stroking each other’s shoulder or giving a back rub will raise oxytocin levels so you feel closer, emotionally and physically.”

SOS (SEX OFF-SEASON)

YOU had plenty of summer loving but now going to bed with a good book is about as exciting as it gets.

Kate says: “Long winter evenings often separate couples into their own preferred routines, one stays up late while the other retreats to the bedroom to read, scroll through social media, or sleep.

 You had plenty of summer loving but now going to bed with a good book is about as exciting as it gets
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You had plenty of summer loving but now going to bed with a good book is about as exciting as it getsCredit: Getty - Contributor

“Over time, this can make you feel like flatmates, and your sex life starts to suffer.

“Don’t focus on bedtimes for sex. Make time for intimacy at some point in the day.

“Set your alarm earlier so you can snuggle before work, use your lunch hour to hit the sheets or grab a glass of wine together as soon as you get home from work.”

END-OF-YEAR FEAR

YOU set out at the start of the year with a list of relationship goals but still haven’t managed to tick any of them off.

Your love life isn’t where you want it to be and there’s only three months left of 2019.

 You set out at the start of the year with a list of relationship goals but haven't managed to tick any off
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You set out at the start of the year with a list of relationship goals but haven't managed to tick any offCredit: Getty - Contributor

Kate says: “Look back on the January version of you: What did you want for your relationship then – and how far are you from achieving it?

“If you are no closer to your goals, it’s time for a serious talk with your partner. But there is loads of time to get engaged, find a home, book a holiday or any other milestone you’d like to hit.

“If your partner is dragging their feet or you’re making excuses, get to the truth now.

“Once all your reservations are brought into the open, you can take decisive action together or cut your losses before you drift any longer.”

AU-TUM DIET

JUMPING out of bed to hit the gym feels like hard work and all you crave is stodgy carbs.

Sticking to a healthy diet was easier in the summer but now you can feel your waistline expanding – and you feel less attractive.

 Sticking to a healthy diet was easier in the summer but now you can feel your waistline expanding and you feel less attractive
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Sticking to a healthy diet was easier in the summer but now you can feel your waistline expanding and you feel less attractiveCredit: Getty - Contributor

Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert, says: “When the colder months set in, it is important to focus on how you feel and what your energy levels are like.

“Try to set in place a routine to help you get to bed earlier and eat better. Aim to have larger portions for breakfast and lunch, so serotonin-producing foods such as eggs, cheese and milk, carbohydrates and protein are eaten mainly at these mealtimes.

“In the evening smaller portions are advisable for dinner as this could be useful for digestion and encouraging sleep.”

FESTIVE FEUDS

HE wants Christmas with his family but the thought of spending a day with the mother-in-law fills you with dread.

Trying to agree on a festive plan you are both happy with can heap stress on a relationship.

 Trying to agree on a festive plan you are both happy with can heap stress on a relationship
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Trying to agree on a festive plan you are both happy with can heap stress on a relationshipCredit: Getty - Contributor

Kate says: “Christmas is a series of decisions which always puts pressure on a partnership. Add the stress of wanting it all to be ‘perfect’ and you’ve got a recipe for a festive fall-out.

“Get through it as a team by discovering what Christmas really represents to each of you. If one of you loves the romance, focus on that with thoughtful gifts.

“If the other is all about family, ensure the season is full of ways to get together.

“Getting your primary needs met, will make it much easier to navigate the season in harmony.”

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