Find Humor in your MarriageApr 02, 2022
What do you remember most about your first dance?
Most couples: the room felt empty as we held each other and danced to our favorite song.
Us: pirate jokes. Mark spent the entirety of our 3.5min 1st dance telling amazingly terrible and cheesy pirate jokes. “What do you call a Norwegian Pirate?” “Larrrrrrrs” emphasis on the arrrrgh. According to Mark, the joke lands even better if you hold up one hand and curl your finger like you have a classic pirate hook for a hand.
We’ve always had a healthy dose of humor in our marriage. Mark jokes that “with a face for radio, humor is all I have.” Little did we know that humor is a key ingredient to a healthy marriage. The Gottman Institute found that humor was a key metric for predicting marriage happiness and stability in newlywed couples. Additionally, the Journal of Neuroscience published a study that shows laughing releases important endorphins like dopamine and oxytocin forming positive connections to people and events.
Often when couples connect with us in need of help, it becomes clear very quickly that they have stopped having fun together. The very things that marked their relationship while falling in love are no longer present and it seems insurmountable to get to a spot where they could laugh together again. Admittedly, life gets harder as we “grow up.” Growing old together turns into growing cold together. Work pressures, financial stress, lack of sleep, raising kids, and even asking “what’s for dinner?” all add up to a life that isn’t very fun and leaves very little room for laughter.
So what do we do? How do we get back to laughing together and enjoying life alongside each other. Here are 6 ways to add humor to your marriage (even when you don’t feel like laughing):
Watch funny shows/movies together (Ted Lasso anyone?)
While sitting on the couch with the TV on in the background toggling between scrolling on your phone and scrolling through what to watch can be an evening ruining buzzkill, creating a list of funny shows and movies as a quick reference go-to can turn an evening around in a hurry. Laughing together builds a bond even if the jokes aren’t coming from each other.
If you’ve gotten in the habit of sitting on different couches or watching while scrolling on your phone, switch it up. Sit next to each other, put your phone away, and just laugh together. Sometimes a bottle of wine or a few drinks can help loosen you up and help you catch a case of the giggles. We recommend using alcohol responsibly and avoiding at all cost if it has a history of hurt connected to your relationship. You don’t need it, but some couples find it helps them let go of some of their stressors and just laugh.
Share Inside Jokes
Inside jokes are easier said than done. You need to have shared experiences in order to have inside jokes, but when you have a few it’s unifying. You can laugh at the little things inside your family unit, you can joke about things you have blundered, laugh about work stuff, or borrow humor from the crazy things your kids or pets do.
Inside jokes help couples feel like it’s “us against the world” and they form a deeper bond between the two of you because it’s something only the two of you share. Who cares if no one else thinks it’s funny and who cares if your humor is a little quirky. Inside jokes lead to relational intimacy.
Be Vulnerably Goofy
If you can learn to laugh at yourself and allow your spouse to laugh at you, it is oddly unifying. In fact, the study of over 700 couples published in The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women showed that somewhat embarrassing goofiness led to a level of “spiritual intimacy” that connected couples on a level that very few other things can. Letting your guard down and letting someone see your vulnerability, is intimate. While we can’t be more physically naked during sex, we can’t be more emotionally naked than when we are vulnerable.
Goofy dancing, terrible singing, and sharing our many imperfections might be the humor your relationship needs to draw nearer to each other. Be mindful that the goofiness and vulnerability is for your and your marriage alone. Be mindful that what happens inside your home needs to be shepherded as sacred. If you are unsure if anything can be shared with others, ask. Being mindful of vulnerability builds trust.
Go to a Comedy Show or Improv Performance
We will be the first to admit that when a weekend rolls around the first thing we want to do is NOTHING. Kids are busy. Work is busy. Life is busy. But busyness doesn’t fuel your connectedness. So if you’re going to be busy, add one more thing to the list and prioritize a date night that includes a comedy show or an improve performance. Even an open mic comedy show or amateur improve can be painfully funny and lead to laughter in the moment as well as inside jokes that last.
We have often spoke of “borrowed humor” in the moments when we don’t feel like being funny. If you aren’t funny or aren’t in the mood, borrow it from someone else like a comedian, actors, or an improv show. Seriously, if you’re busy, you’re probably tired too. Let them do the work!
Tease (Use With Caution)
Teasing is a fun way to build intimacy. Teasing says “I see you” and “I accept you.” We all have quirks and pet peeves…we can either let them drive us crazy or we can see them for what they are and laugh at them. We can play jokes on each other in the midst of our quirks and we can laugh off the little pet peeves we experience between each other.
Teasing is the method of humor that we point out is to be used with the most caution. Joking about the little things likes quirks and pet peeves is usually somewhat safe, but be mindful of the times when teasing turns into hurtful digs. If a joke is a sensitive topic, steer clear. If a joke is connected to identity or family, let your spouse lead the way. Laugh together but don’t poke and prod in sensitive areas.
Tell Jokes (Connection Cards for Couples Coming Soon)
Whether it’s dad jokes, pirate jokes, or jokes from Alexa or Siri…tell jokes. Even if you roll your eyes audibly and proclaim, “that was so stupid,” you’re laughing. You’re creating shared experiences and inside jokes. These are the type of jokes that you can share just between the two of you or with the whole family.
We believe in tiny connection moments so much that we are working behind the scenes of funny discussion starters to bring to date night, vacation, or family dinner so that you can share, laugh, and feel more connected.
It’s April 2 so this is a day late for April Fools day, but here is an example of a subtly humorous discussion prompt you can use together
“What’s the best/worst April Fool’s Joke you have pulled off or had pulled on you?”
Mark likes to think he is funny. I mostly agree, but find myself trying to convince him that “you’re an idiot” is a term of endearment on a daily basis. If you don’t get your spouse’s humor, there is still value in enduring a terrible movie on their behalf. If you don’t think your spouse is funny, you can “borrow” humor and laugh together. I think we can all agree that 80% of the things kids say are ridiculously funny…embrace that! Don’t waste time or energy wishing your spouse was somebody else or something he/she is not. And don’t spend another second reading this blog. Get out there and laugh together. Smile together. Bond together.
As always, we’re rooting for you.
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