Loving Through Laughing

by Nancy Van Pelt

Happily married couples laugh together far more frequently than those who are unhappy. Nearly three-fourths of the happily married respondents in one study said they laugh together once a day or more! Shared humor is high up on a list of why happily-married couples believe their relationship has endured. Humor keeps variety and enjoyment in a relationship. Couples who laugh together are obviously not suffering from the rut of boredom.

The funny guys at the Gelotology (the science of mirth) Institute of Stanford University Medical School tell couples to laugh out loud. Double over and roll on the floor, they say, because laughter releases endorphins and enkephalins (those natural painkillers, chemical cousins to opiates such as morphine). Laughter turns you into a human vibrator that massages practically every organ in the body.

Laughter has been likened to an aerobic workout. The average laugh comes out at about 70 miles an hour and provides the same benefits as 10 minutes of rowing. It strengthens the immune system, lightens pain, eases stress, and improves circulation and breathing.

Humor and laughter relieve tension. That’s what telling jokes is all about. You create tension and build it; then you pop the balloon by delivering the punch line. Some couples are afraid of humor because it exposes one’s vulnerability, and they see that as threatening to their relationship. Rather than seeing the humor in their own real-life situations, their tendency is to turn on the TV and follow the passive humor dictated by the laugh track of a sitcom.

One night a pastor visited Bert and Sheila, a newly married couple attending his church. Bert greeted the pastor and motioned for him to be seated in the living room while explaining that Sheila was taking a shower. The men were engrossed in some serious discussion of a recent sporting event when the bathroom door opened. Sheila, not realizing her husband had company, came bounding out of the bathroom–stark naked–to surprise her husband with a kiss.

Astonishment registered on her face as she realized her husband was not alone. With shock, she spun around and raced to the bedroom. The mortified pastor left as graciously as possible, while the new husband struggled unsuccessfully to suppress his mirth.

The next week, after the church service, Sheila marched up to the pastor and said with a twinkle in her eye, “Hi, I’m Sheila. I didn’t think you’d recognize me with my clothes on!” They were both able to laugh at the ridiculous situation, and an awkward moment passed.

Humor strips away our self-righteous veneers. It eases tension. Heated discussions are defused by shared laughter. Someone has said that laughter is like having a God’s eye view of a situation. It helps us gain perspective on petty annoyances and heals a thousand hurts.

You and your mate may have very different tastes in humor. Harry prefers silly jokes. I like quick wit and spontaneous humor with powerful punch lines. Nevertheless, humor and laughing together have given our marriage strength and spontaneity. Love and laughter build intimacy. Ruth Bell Graham in It’s My Turn writes, “It is impossible to love someone at whom you cannot laugh.” Humor obviously contributes to closeness because it indicates similar values, interests, intelligence, imagination, and needs.

Creative Humor Ideas:

`If you wish to up your quota of laughs, here are some tips:

* Learn what humor appeals to your mate. Clip a cartoon from a magazine and share it with your partner.

* Share a funny story. Embellish a real story to get a laugh or make up a funny one about your day.

* Share private nicknames that make you smile.

* Tell a joke. A bad joke is better than no joke at all. You can laugh at something that is silly.

* Have a giggle fit over something silly.

If you and your mate aren’t laughing together, it’s time to begin. As Scripture tells us, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)

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