Life is hard. It’s like a rickety, wooden roller coaster – bumpy and full of devastating drops and quick turns. Though we can’t always change our course and the bumps and jolts are bound to occur, humor is like a little padding on our seat.
According to Proverbs 17:22, laughter is good medicine. And according to multiple studies this is absolutely true! In addition to the physiological benefits like reducing blood pressure, increasing the immune system, decreasing inflammation. and increasing endorphins (the body’s natural pain relievers), humor has psychological effects as well. Stanford psychologists completed a study revealing humor helps us cope in the midst of negative circumstances. After faced with negative, frightening images, the study group who was instructed to improvise jokes regarding the images while viewing them rated an increase in positive emotions and a decrease in negative emotions compared to those with no instructions to add humor to the disturbing images. Humor forces a change in perspective, emotions and ability to overcome frightening situations. (Side note: The study found positive, optimistic humor was more effective than cynicism.) (https://news.stanford.edu/news/2011/august/humor-coping-horror-080111.html)
In addition to physical and psychological advantages, laughter has benefits for marriage relationships. Since laughter releases oxytocin, the bonding chemical, it brings couples closer together. In a study conducted by Laura E. Kurtz at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a link was found between the amount of time couples spent laughing together and how supported and close they felt with one another. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/pere.12095)
In a marriage, humor can break negative associations building tension and give us a renewed outlook on our problems, empowering us to see our “mountains” as “ant hills”.
This is not to say we should laugh off every situation. If your spouse is having a crisis and needs a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, laughter will propel your marriage up the creek in a jiffy. The point is to laugh together – not to laugh while your spouse unravels. However, regarding the little nuances of life, if you can choose to become grumpy or choose to find humor, take the funny freeway!
Give your spouse the physical and psychological boost of humor he/she needs to get through the day and, in turn, enhance your marriage. As everyone’s sense of humor is different, we must learn what our spouse finds funny. While some people laugh at cheesy comments, others love the dry humor stated with the straight face. Pay attention to what your spouse laughs at and use that humor in the midst of life’s circumstances.
Lighten up! In order to lessen our stresses, we must have the ability to laugh at ourselves! Mispronouncing a word, deserves a snicker. Stumbling on a step merits a chuckle. Taking the wrong turn warrants a comedic comment. If you’re afraid of trying something new for fear of making of fool of yourself, just do it! And then laugh.
Here are more ways to add more laughter into your relationship: text one another funny gifs or memes throughout the day, recall inside jokes often, retell stories with gusto, look for the irony in situations, watch a funny show in the evenings, listen to Pandora’s comedy station while driving, say “yes” to the situations that have potential to paint you as a fool, and sneak in unguarded, spur-of-the-moment dance parties often.
Sometimes we allow bitterness to take root in our marriage relationships. Then when our spouse tries to lighten the mood with a joke, though a laugh builds within us, we suppress it. We don’t want our spouse, whom we’re trying to remain bitter toward, to have one-up on us. Just…no. Say “no” to bitterness. Say “yes” to that invitation to let go of resentment and welcome the healing balm of laughter into your marriage.