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Expert: For a happy holiday and marriage, put spouse first

Thursday - 11/28/2013, 4:53am  ET

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Having your spouse's back can help you get through the holidays conflict-free. (WTOP File)
WASHINGTON - The holidays can put pressure on couples trying to make everyone happy but themselves.

"It's very important in a marriage that, starting with Thanksgiving and going all the way to New Years, all those days being something both spouses look forward to," says marriage counselor Dr. Willard Harley.

Also the author of the book "He Wins, She Wins: Learning the Art of Marital Negotiation," Harley says it's important that each spouse puts the other first. Being aware of eachother's feelings is what keeps people together and out of his office, he says.

"If you can have your spouse's back in every event that takes place, I don't see those people," he says.

Harley says couples should sit down and plan out the holidays together ahead of time. Both need to agree on travel plans and with whom they will spend the holidays.

"Make sure nobody is doing it 'just to get along,'" Harley says.

Holiday traditions are great, but he says it takes more than that to get through the season.

"If it ends up being something that you just hope to get through in one piece, you're not really going to be looking forward to it every year the way it should be," he says.

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