In our marriage we’ve found that we are great at being serious, getting things done, and being responsible. Laughter hasn’t always been the most natural getaway. It’s silly, but we forget to have fun. Yet when we take a moment to laugh, there’s no problem we haven’t been able to come back to more aligned and ready to solve.
Forgetting to laugh in marriage is like forgetting to breath when you’re exercising—a bad idea all around.
Let’s talk about why laughter is important with 5 reasons laughter makes marriage better (also check out 5 ways to bring more laughter to your marriage)
1. Laughter actually changes your body
We’ve all been there. Frustration starts to boil over, either because of outside influences or because of our own actions, and stress spikes. We begin to think more with our amygdala, raise our voice, narrow our vision, and many other physiological reactions to stress. While these reactions are great when we are facing real mortal danger, they are completely counter-productive for mental and social problem-solving.
Laughter, however, is a great antidote to all of these normal reactions to stress.
“… the benefits of laughter include improved immune functioning, stress relief, increased tolerance for pain, improved cardiovascular health, reduced anxiety, and improved mood.” (from psychology today)
When we laugh, we physiologically become more open (eyes wider, mouth open, head back). Our body releases dopamine (the same hormone triggered by cocaine, but safe when our own body regulates it). This makes laughter a good way to intervene when our bodies aren’t serving us well.
2. Laughter cuts through tension
Given all of the positive physiological changes that laughter brings, tension is no match for it. Laughter is one effective tool to reduce stress and make sure we’re in the right state of mind to actually work through something.
Relaxing is one of the best ways to unlock high performance. Being up tight isn’t helpful for many scenarios in marriage: problem solving, listening, sex … When tensions are high, a little laughter brings down the natural walls.
Note: You need to read the room, but often when tensions are high, laughter is a great solution. That said, some times laughter at a certain moment isn’t right. Don’t use laughter in a way that lacks respect, could show you aren’t listening, or
I’ve found that once I listen for a bit, I can test the waters by even asking permission to make my wife laugh. If she really isn’t in the mood, she’ll tell me. But unless she’s a definite “no”, I start to try and bring a smile to her face.
3. Laughter makes you more creative
Given the brain chemistry impact of laughter, a natural consequence is increased creativity. This is critical for marriage given the need to constantly solve problems together.
No matter the challenges—money, sex, parenting, work—being able to come up with more creative ideas will greatly impact your ability to handle life.
This is one reason we like to start a whiteboard session (a 20-minute exercise we use to solve problems when we are stressed) with the question “what is going well?” That will always bring a smile, and occasionally a laugh, vs the more natural “Ok, what are all of the problems?” start to make problems-solving conversations.
4. Laughter brings you together
Doing something together is critical for the alignment to carry on facing daily challenges. Laughter is a group activity. It’s contagious. It engages our bodies and minds to remind us we are together.
This is one reason many shows have a laugh track. Once the laughter starts it’s natural to join in.
5. Laughter means we aren’t taking everything too seriously
Life wasn’t just meant to be completed, it was meant to be enjoyed. That can be tricky when very serious things are happening all around us.
It’s why even amidst real tragedy, there are stories of humor being used to help victims survive. I was touched by the use of humor to bring hope and humanity to concentration camp prisoners. Humor isn’t the solution to all problems, but it will help us better face and endure our problems. That is also true in marriage.
My your marriage be full of laughter, even when (or especially when) things get tough.