Couples Who Laugh, Last

August 28, 2012

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:

Diffuses tension

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.

Fun activities

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

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Red Nose Angel

October 13, 2009

Maybe some things are meant to be. I arrived at the Victoria airport really early for my flight to Calgary. When I checked in, I was offered the last seat on the next flight departing in 30 minutes. It was a regional jet, the kind with two narrow seats on either side of the aisle. My 6’3’’ self hunched over as I entered the plane and snuggled into the row one window seat facing the bulkhead beside a little old lady who commented on my obvious cramped leg room. The lone flight attendant on the flight tossed her coat across the two remaining seats across from us as if staking a gold claim.

It was the little lady who suggested that I ask about switching to the empty aisle seat across from us. I waited until the flight attendant started pushing her cart down the aisle and inquired as to whether she minded if I switch my seat to allow for the better legroom.

There was a cold silence and then she responded curtly, “I was going to sit there.” After another icy pause she said, “Oh, go ahead.” It was clear that either today was not her day or she slept through her customer service 101 training.

I moved her airline issued jacket over to the window seat and sat down to enjoy sticking my feet up the aisle. When her cart service concluded she plunked down beside me to do her books. She made a terse comment about having little time to get her paperwork done on short flights. After a time she hunched over and twisted her gaze out the window while slowly rubbing her forehead and back of neck.

“Do you want something to take away your headache?” I offered thinking of a special cure I had in my bag.
”No,” she replied, “It will go away on it’s own.” She shared that this was her 5th flight today and got up to tidy the galley.

Even though she was unresponsive to my offer to help I kept having a nagging intuition to do the right thing. I knew that in my bag and I had a distress headache cure. I just finished sharing 200 of them with hard working managers in high demand responsibility roles at a conference in Victoria. The preventative cure for her stress, as it was for the managers at the conference, was the healing power of humor.

When she sat with me the next time I held out a red foam clown nose and said, “This will help with your headache.”

“Are you kidding?”

“Yes I am kidding and I am joking, that’s the point,” I asserted, “laughter creates endorphins and flushes the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol makes your headache.”

“I can’t wear this. I have to look responsible.”

“Sure you can,” I insisted and held up my book to block any potential embarrassing passenger glances and she hunched over and put in the nose.

“Whoa, my head feels better already”, she observed after less than a minute. She chucked when I suggested she should do the next cart run with the nose on.

She introduced herself and we had a light hearted chat. She apologized for being out of sorts and she shared that the nose meant a lot to her because she had beaten nose cancer twice. Then she paused and said, “When you get off the plane are you going to disappear?” I must have look puzzled. She continued, “Like are you an angel that comes to earth to help troubled souls then when the job is done you go back up to rejuvenate until the next time.” She looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you. You were meant to be on my flight.”

I explained to her that actually I wasn’t meant to be on her flight and shared about the last minute change. But maybe things are meant to be especially if we listen to that still small voice of intuition that calls us to do the right thing.

When the plane landed we said thanks to each other. As I left I gave her my success quote card and she handed me her pen. At first I thought she felt obliged to reciprocate my gift gesture and that was all she had. It wasn’t until after read the inscription that it was clear that some things are just meant to be.

On her pen was a line from Psalm 91, “For he will command his angels concerning you.”