Is your husband or wife driving you crazy during coronavirus? Learn the secrets of happy love from oprah favorites, Dr. Harville Hendrix & Dr. Helen Hunt, America’s top marriage psychologists

Is your husband or wife driving you crazy during these difficult stay-at-home times? Now, there’s a way to create a happy love partnership with the breakthrough Imago technology of Drs. Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt, NY Times bestselling authors of the classic, “Getting the Love You Want.”  We were fortunate to have this amazing married couple (together 40 years) on Love University as they educated us on how to heal childhood wounds and create a love that lasts a lifetime. Let’s take a look at their wisdom for happy long-term relationships, even in times of stress and turmoil:

*Make an appointment with your partner:  Instead of reacting emotionally to something your partner said or did (“You’re a jerk”), slow down your (and your partner’s) emotional reflexes by asking, “Is this a good time to talk?”  By doing so, both of you can get into your rational brain (cerebral cortex) instead of reacting from the emotional part (amygdala) that is reactive and defensive.  This makes for safer and nonjudgmental communication that can help both of you feel better about each other and the relationship.

*Be each other’s therapists:  Through Imago training with a competent practitioner, you can learn how to heal your and your partner’s childhood wounds. According to Imago, we tend to pick a love partner who has the positive and negative qualities of the parent we had the most difficulties with.  Therefore, you might pick a cold man just like your distant father, or an overprotective woman like your emotionally unhealthy mother.  The first step to develop a healthy relationship is for the partners to help each other discover their inner childhood wounds. Then, they can help each other heal through communication and hands-on exercises designed to process their feelings and get their needs met in a safe and nonjudgmental environment.

*Express Empathy and Compassion toward your partner.  In a set of structured communication Imago exercises, you can express empathy and compassion toward your mate by mirroring your partner (“I think what you’re saying is…Is there more?”),  validating (“Makes sense”) and empathy (“You must be feeling…). In this way, the couple moves from competition to cooperation; from conflict to compassion. They can see each other’s points of view in a real way and have open and honest communication without the fear of being judged or criticized. Now they can have safe conversations that protect and enhance the relationship.

*Have a Negativity Free Agreement. One of the main things that saved Harville and Helen from divorce (yes, they were on the verge) was maintaining a “No Negativity Agreement.”  For a certain period of time—hours, days, or more—you and your partner agree not to speak negatively or critically to each other. Most unhappy couples tend to say several negative things to each other for every positive statement they make (the reverse is true for happy couples).  Some couples have nothing positive to say about each other at all.  Yet, to have a happy marriage or long-term relationship, it’s important that you accentuate the positive—have fun, appreciation, and caring days; give each other unexpected surprises, and eliminate negative criticisms and complaints from your everyday conversation with your partner. When you want to work on something in the relationship, use the structured dialogue exercises mentioned above to communicate in a safe and nonjudgmental way in which hurts and pains are minimized and love is enhanced.

*Bring the Higher Nature into your relationship.  Regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs, most people recognize that there is something sacred and holy in the deepest and most fulfilling love relationships and marriages. Recognized by various terms, Imago Dei (image of God), agape (unconditional love), or light creation (leaving a legacy of goodness), the best relationships have this special and beautiful quality. When you allow the Higher Nature (God spirit, nature) into your relationship, it’s no longer just about two people as individuals; it’s about the sacred space between them—the all-encompassing representation of sacrificial love in which each person is willing to give their life for the welfare of their partner.

In these times of trouble and upheaval, there is a silver lining.  We are moving toward an Omega point (spiritual unification) in which the whole world is coming together to fight common enemies (disease, hate, and inequality). In the same way, couples who have been fighting each other can find the unity and similarity within their uniqueness and create a love that is more than just romance and fairy tales. It is a love that stands the test of all time and leaves a legacy of light and goodness through the children created, the friends made, the experiences shared, and the contributions made.  In the end, there is only one thing left when couples separate through circumstance or death: It is called Love.