Maya Angelou said, “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”
I love to laugh, but I’m terrible at telling jokes. Usually, I start laughing before I get the punch line delivered. Totally ruins the joke!
There’s something about laughter that lightens a day.
However, when your marriage struggles or life seems heavy, you probably don’t want to laugh. Your energy expenditure focuses on dealing with the messy issue at hand. Life doesn’t feel funny in those times. Rather, it feels burdensome.
I remember the first time I attended a funeral. During the reception afterward, laughter broke out in a corner of the hall. My first thought was, “How rude! Why would you laugh at a time like this?” However, I discovered the laughter stemmed from stories and memories of the newly deceased. The laughter brought joy to the somber occasion. It eased the pain of death for a few moments.
Laughter allows us to relieve tension.
People who work stressful jobs like doctors, nurses, firefighters, policemen, and others attest to the need to laugh, even when it seems inappropriate to those looking on. Like a nurse who says, “Don’t mess with me. I get PAID to stab people with sharp objects.”
There are benefits of laughter in stressful situations. And there are benefits to looking for some way to share a laugh when your marriage is in a difficult season.
An April 2005 article on psychologytoday.com reported these benefits of laughter:
- Reduces pain so we tolerate discomfort better
- Reduces blood sugar levels
- Improves job performance, creativity, and problem-solving abilities
- Synchronizes the brains of speaker and listener
- Restores a positive emotional climate and connection between two people
- Maintains a healthy endothelium in your arteries, which is as helpful as aerobic exercise
- Offsets the impact of mental stress which hurts your arteries
Also quoted in this article, at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, Michael Miller, M.D. offered a simple prescription to save your life and your wallet: “Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week and 15 minutes of laughter daily.”
Are you and your spouse laughing, together, 15 minutes out of each day? Sure beats planking or running stairs.
In the early 1800s, Lord Byron wrote, “Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.”
Have you ever burst out laughing during a tense moment?
I have and felt quite embarrassed. This reaction happened during a counseling appointment. My counselor challenged me on a particular viewpoint. Instead of listening carefully and analyzing my response, I quickly blurted out a wisecrack and a chortle to deflect the real issue. She’d accurately identified a sore spot in my marriage, which I wasn’t prepared to confront at that moment. So I laughed, figuring it was better than crying. Thankfully, she didn’t let me get away with sidestepping the issue. With great expertise, she probed deeper helping me face the underlying pain.
If you’ve ever laughed when it was inappropriate, according to Jordan Raine, a Ph.D. Researcher at the University of Sussex, it could be your brain’s way of diffusing tension, or a defensive coping mechanism when in a traumatic situation. Dr. Kelley Hopkins-Alvarez, a licensed professional counselor and board-certified coach agrees, “Sometimes people laugh when something is sad because they are trying to deflect going deeper into their emotions.”
During a session with our spiritual care team, my husband cracked a joke. We both thought it funny, but our team didn’t. In the past, we used humor to diffuse a tense or difficult moment instead of facing it head-on. Like Dr. Hopkins-Alvarez identified, it was easier to make a joke than deal with the underlying painful issue. Our team realized what we were doing at that moment and gently, but firmly, walked us through the pain toward resolution.
Don’t misunderstand me, though. Laughter is appropriate, but not when it’s a cover-up, a way to side-step the issue. If you use laughter to avoid the pain, that’s not healthy. Deal with the pain head-on. You and your marriage will grow.
There are times, however, when laughter is appropriate and feels great!
Laughter helps you create memories and secret moments only you and your husband share.
- Find something to laugh about every day. My husband knows how to switch my negative thoughts to positive ones by a few crazy twists of words. I love him for this. He’s taught me to lighten up. And when I do, life is way more fun.
- Watch some good, clean comedy together. Every time my husband and I get on an airplane, we giggle. A comedy schtick we saw years ago floods back from Brian Regan. My favorite part starts at about 4:30 in the video. Just mouth the word, yak, and I struggle to hold in the snort! ? Too funny!
- Turn an embarrassing moment into a fun memory. Sometimes words fly out of our mouths before we fully think through the correct way to phrase something. Here’s a famous one from Groucho Marx: “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know.” Hilarious! But, when that happens in a private conversation, it can be embarrassing. My husband and I have a routine phrase we use (no, I’m not going to share it) that expresses our thankfulness to be home together. Each time we use that phrase, we laugh. It came from a misplaced modifier that completely changed the meaning of the original sentence.
- Use a funny double entendre phrase to convey a private meaning. When one of us makes a grandiose, over-the-top generalization about something negative or minor we use a short phrase that makes us laugh. It’s the name of a person we know who tends to over-generalize and make gross generalizations about minor issues. It’s a quick reminder to stop being so serious and lighten up.
Laughter helps your marriage, soul, attitude, and outlook.
A lighter, happier, more tickled-pink you help your marriage and your family. Life is too short to be so serious. Lighten up!
King Solomon, the wisest man who’s ever lived, says:
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
One of my favorite movies (I may need to watch this tonight) is Mary Poppins. While there are many funny moments in the movie, the one I can’t help laughing at is Uncle Albert. I don’t know how Julie Andrews, who played Mary Poppins, kept a straight face during this scene.
Think about what Uncle Albert says, “the more I laugh, the more I’m a merrier me.” Wouldn’t you rather be a merrier you instead of a grumpier you? I would.
Today, find something that causes you to laugh, more than a giggle or smirk. Watch a clean comedian or a wholesome comedy. Old TV shows like the Carol Burnett Show are a great place to start.
Throw your head back and guffaw like Uncle Albert. Long and loud and clear. If you laugh so hard you get tears running down your face, congratulations! Your mind, heart, and emotions just got a lovely energy boost. Good for you.
Increase your life span and do your arteries some good. Find something to laugh about every day!
However, if your marriage feels rocky, laughing together again feels far away. I’ve been there. It’s not easy to make the decision to stick it out after pornography addiction or betrayal. Do yourself a favor and reach out for help. It’s time.