Which Christmas movie reveals how office affairs begin?

Love is everywhere if you look for it, and Christmas is the time to take a magical leap into love. That’s the premise of the charming 2003 Christmas movie Love Actually, brought to life by a stellar British cast falling in love or falling out of love at Christmas.

There is a dark side to this premise, illustrating how office affairs begin and how they can be prevented. Let’s explore the adventure initiation phase and how to protect your marriage from the threat of an office romance.

Starting an office affair:

Imagine a small London office where a young secretary named Mia (Heike Makatsch) does a play for her married boss named Harry (Alan Rickman). As Harry approaches Mia’s workstation, she begins his seduction by turning her chair towards him to take a look at her short skirt and spread legs. Harry notices, but is too cautious to go there.

When Harry gives Mia the task of planning the office Christmas party, he asks if she will bring her boyfriend.

“I’ll just be hanging around the mistletoe, waiting to be kissed,” Mia says, looking seductively at Harry long enough for her invitation to register.

Later, Mia tells Harry about the coming that she chose for her office party: “It’s an art gallery, full of dark corners, to do … dark acts.”

Your sexual tension increases.

When Harry leaves the office to go Christmas shopping, Mia asks him to buy her a present. “I don’t want something I need. I want something I want, something nice.”

Harry smiles, as if enjoying being manipulated by her provocative charms. You see why he’s vulnerable in the next scene when Harry goes Christmas shopping with his obedient wife, Karen (Emma Thompson). She greets him with a chaste kiss on the cheek. She dresses as a casual mommy, totally devoid of sex appeal. We have a feeling the romance is long gone or never was, when Karen almost discovered her husband, Harry, buying Mia a gold necklace:

Karen: I see you hanging around the jewelry section!

Harry: No. I was just looking around me.

Karen: Don’t worry, my expectations aren’t that high after 13 years of Mr. “Oh-but-you-always-LOVE-scarves.”

My advice to Karen and all compliant spouses: Low expectations aren’t sexy. The lack of romantic fun makes couples uneasy about the excitement they deserve in a happy relationship.

On the night of the Christmas party, Karen wears a scruffy wifey outfit, while Mia dresses as a red-hot Satan crowned with sexy red horns on her headband. When Mia asks Harry to dance, their romantic chemistry is palpable. His wife notices and mentions him after the party.

Karen: Mia is very pretty.

Harry: [nonchalantly but unconvincingly] It’s her?

Karen: You know it is, honey. Be careful there.

As Karen prepares for bed after the party, she is even wearing matronly underwear with no sex appeal. Harry doesn’t bother to look at her as they climb into bed. We can see why she lost interest in sex, even though Karen is a caring mother and competent wife.

Next, we see Mia stripping naked, wearing sexy red lingerie and Harry’s gold necklace.

After the party, Karen can’t fall asleep, her eyes are now open to the real threat Mia poses in her marriage.

My advice to Karen and any spouse who has stopped being playful, provocative, and passionate with their partner:

Don’t be surprised that your lack of romantic sizzle puts out sparks of attraction. Even if you are a fabulous parent or provider, when you allow soulmates to become roommates, you have entered the danger zone of your marriage.

In a heartbreaking scene on Christmas Eve, Karen believes that she is opening Harry’s gift of a gold necklace that she had found in her pocket. When Karen opens a music CD instead of a gold necklace, she retreats to her room with a British reservation to cry privately without disturbing Harry and his two sons.

Karen waits until after the holidays to confront her husband about the necklace:

Karen: Tell me, if you were in my position, what would you do?

Harry: What position is that?

Karen: Imagine your husband buys a gold necklace and when Christmas comes, he gives it to someone else …

Harry: Oh, Karen …

Karen: Would you wait to find out if it’s just a necklace, or if it’s sex and a necklace, or if, worst of all, it’s a necklace and love? Would you stay with the knowledge that life would always be a little worse? Or would you cut and run?

Harry: Oh my. I am so wrong. The classic fool!

Karen: [voice breaking] Yes, but you have also made a fool of me, and you have also made the life I lead foolish!

Why is this elegant confrontation so touching?

Show how each spouse can justify the distractions that rob a marriage of power. At least Harry admits that he was a classic fool to fall in love with a young woman who makes him feel sexy again. Karen still doesn’t see how prioritizing motherhood and sacrificing passionate intimacy with Harry stifles the romantic chemistry it takes to keep marriages fresh and exciting.

Prevention of an office matter:

What can couples do to protect their marriage from sexual temptations in the office?

Do the opposite of Harry and Karen. Take time each day to focus on each other and keep the romance alive. Schedule a date night at least once a week when kids or careers, homework, or deadlines aren’t being discussed. Do something fun that everyone enjoys on date night. Wear something sexy and exciting. Be playful and build sexual tension by suggesting what might happen at the end of your date, if you’re lucky. When you create a new habit of dating your partner, you create a base of fun that all couples want and that no one wants to throw away on an office affair.