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My wife I and love to laugh (even as I type that, I almost see it as an understatement). It’s one of our two essential elements of a healthy marriage.
- Jesus. Gives us a foundation and structure to build with.
- Laughter. Gives us a healthy connection and a filter to process life.
Anne and I laugh with each other. And if we’re being really honest, we often laugh at each other. I’m not talking about mocking or ridiculing. But we laugh at the random “moments” that we find stinking hilarious.
For example, my clumsiness. Of all of the things I trip over or run into, nobody hits their elbow more than me on doorways and doorknobs. When that happens it’s followed by Anne saying, “Why can’t you just walk through a door like a normal person?” Don’t let her fool you, Anne has her “moments” like we all do.
Our investment in this part of our marriage began back in 1995 when we started dating. I really can’t remember every date over the span of 3 years, but I do remember us laughing together. This simple aspect of our marriage is, perhaps, one of the most overlooked and/or underestimated facet of marriage.
I truly believe that couples that stop laughing with each other (or having fun together) lose an essential component that paves the way for health in other areas of their marriage. When I meet with couples, I often ask about how much “fun” they have. It’s not that I’m ignoring the troubles they’re having. I’m not immune to the frustration they’ve experienced. But this fundamental element, if ignored, makes traversing through the issues at hand 10-times more difficult.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, when the broken bleeding man was found by the Samaritan, he helped his wounds by “pouring on oil and wine.” Wine was necessary as it was the antiseptic. But don’t overlook the oil. It was the soothing agent to help with the pain. It proceeded the wine and paved the way for the antiseptic to be received.
If I can get a couple to enjoy each other more, two things happen, First, they are more apt to work together. You tend to want to work with people you like. Second, a lightened heart has more room for hope. And the more hope you contain, the more drive you have.
Mental health writer and activist Therese Borchard writes about how humor is a powerful healing agent. Some of health benefits packed in laughter include:
- Decreases pain.
- Boosts immunity.
- Reduces stress.
- Helps the heart.
- Burns calories.
I’ve had a few “not-so-laughy” people combat me on this issue. As a pastor, I think laughter is not just fundamental to a healthy marriage but essential to a healthy church. I’ve been told “life is serious” and “the gospel is not a joking matter.” Well, I don’t joke “about” the gospel and I am serious about life. How do you know I’m serious about life? I love my wife and my congregation enough to make sure that we embrace the fullness of Christ and that includes deeper depths of joy.
“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:11
It’s only important if you see it as important.
You’ve got to want this!! Fun rarely happens by accident and, if it isn’t on your radar, it will rarely make your calendar. Just like changing your dieting habits, you can’t expect a turnaround in one week if you’ve been living a certain way for 20 years. Get a good perspective that as much as bad habits are hard to break, developing good habits can be harder still.
Turn the frown upside down.
As much as I dislike the cliché, there’s a deeper truth to it. Nobody can make you smile. Nobody can make you have fun. There must be a motive in your heart to want to see the “smile” in your marriage turned right-side up. A heart intended to experience joy has a greater capacity to…
- See joyful opportunities.
- Be more positive.
- Overlook offenses.
- Lighten atmospheres.
Laughter in cold blood.
I recognize that the metaphor sounds intense, but there’s a greater truth to be understood. The term, “in cold blood” doesn’t mean “in the heat of passion,” but “in a calculated, deliberate manner.” I guess you could have fun by accident, but what if you and your spouse were approached laughter and fun in a calculated, deliberate way?
- Get consistent date nights.
- If you find something funny, send it/tell it to your spouse.
- Find what brings a smile to your spouse and do “that.”
- Note: I find, when I bring a smile to my spouse, it brings a smile to my face and heart.
- Find new things for the both of you to experience some fun.
Laughter is an investment in your marital health. It is the soothing oil that can help pave the way for deeper issues to be exposed and dealt with. The more you pour in and the more time you give it, will pay off tremendous health dividends in your marriage. I know you’ve got “stuff” your marriage needs to work on. But I submit to you: Regain the ability to laugh. Learn (or relearn) how to “like” each other again by doing something fun. And as your heart get’s “lighter,” pride, anger, and fear grows weaker. And the more I learn to facilitate joy, the more I understand the words of Nehemiah,
“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
Love you all. Praying for you.
Thanks for letting me ramble…