They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but research suggests that, actually, laughter is the glue that really keeps couples together. With clear correlation between laughter and sexual relations, as well humour being stated as one of the top three reasons for the success of long term marriages (according to a 1990 study carried out by Lauer) it seems that laughter really is the best medicine for individuals and couples alike.
We all know that laughing is good for us whether we’re single, married or divorced. Experts at Psychology Today suggest that the act of laughing can increase the production of feel-good endorphins, reduce stress, ease pain and even increase blood flow around the body which in turn makes the blood vessels, brain and heart healthier. Who would have thought that laughing can be good for both the head and the heart?! But how can the act of laughing benefit you and your partner as a couple? Here are some ways in which good humour can improve your relationship and help it to stand the test of time:
When a conflict arises in a relationship it can often be minimised by gentle and respectful humour. Minor niggles can be dealt with by a light hearted remark or playful suggestion rather than serious confrontation as people can become much more defensive when they feel as though they are being attacked. Sometimes it can be difficult to resort to laughter in the midst of a serious argument or disagreement, but ultimately couples find that embracing humour helps interrupt the power struggle, ease tensions and enable them to gain perspective and talk their disagreement through in a calmer, more rational way. Humour may not be the way to completely solve your problems but it can definitely set the scene for discussing them in a more productive manner.
‘In-jokes’ strengthen bond
Psychologists suggest that being part of an ‘in group’ is something we all subconsciously strive for to give ourselves a feeling of ‘belonging’. Having an ‘in joke’ with your partner is much the same. It enables you to share a private sentiment that only the two of you belong to and fully understand. This can ultimately strengthen your bond in private and even more so in company. You identify as being part of a pair with something in common. If this is a playful, positive or humorous gesture then it further reinforces the element of fun in the relationship.
Amidst the stresses and strains of everyday life it can sometimes be difficult to find anything to laugh about. This is why couples should try and incorporate fun, laughable activities into their relationship. Try something new even if it is totally out of your comfort zone. If you approach it with good humour and your partner at your side, if can’t go wrong. Even if it is an activity that you don’t enjoy and will never do again, you’ll still have had a positive experience from it trying it with a willing and playful attitude. And if you and your partner can find a common interest then it will give you something else to bond together in. Try and set aside at least a few hours a week where you and your partner can do something fun as a couple and include a bit of old fashioned laughter.
Keeping positive in troubled times
Life isn’t always a bed of roses and there will invariably be times in your relationship when you hit trouble. Perhaps it will be financial difficulty, family problems or even issues with the relationship. During these tough times you may not feel able to use humour as a mode of thought, of but research suggests that looking upon your problems in a positive, light-hearted way can actually provide you with the mental tools you need to overcome them. Laughter is medically proven to ease stress and anxiety to give you the ability to think clearly and rationally. Similarly, looking at things in a humorous light can give you different sense of perspective rather than becoming overwhelmed by your problems. If both you and your partner adopt this attitude in the face of trouble then there’s no reason why you can’t overcome the most difficult obstacles together.
When humour shouldn’t be used – to cover up negative feelings and issues
Whilst laughter and humour are mostly positive aspects of a relationship, there are times when people use humour as a tool to cover up real issues and painful emotions in their relationship. Perhaps they don’t feel able to articulate their emotions in a serious way and so resort to basic humour to try and get their point across. Ask yourself if you’re making jokes in a humorous way of if they’re actually indirect expressions of anger or irritation.
In the big picture one truth remains: life is too short not to laugh more, life is too long not to laugh more. For a complimentary guide to laughing more please visit http://peterdavison.ca/laughmore.html