Laugh together, stay together?
February being deemed the month of love must put undue pressure on unsuspecting couples and singletons alike as the societal expectation of your relationship status becomes questionable to those who have no real stake in your life. 30 and single? Why is this still frowned upon? The odds of finding a life partner before the big “3-0” is linked to a host of factors in this day and age and with the practice of arranged marriages losing momentum with South Africans, this new found freedom to choose the ideal partner means that there is no pressure to jump head-first into an exclusive relationship.
What are we looking for in a life partner? Could the answer to this mind boggling and life altering question actually be a simple one? According to research by Jeffrey Hall from the University of Kansas, yes it really is! Hall believes that there is an easy way to ensure that your relationships are successful…simply find someone you can laugh with!
Where has this information been all along? Well, it has been a long time coming, 30 years to be exact…Hall’s findings come after analyzing 39 relationship studies with 15,000 participants and spans across 30 years! He stresses the importance of finding a partner who shares the same sense of humour as you do, as finding someone who you laugh with is not nearly as important as having someone who is on the same comedic wavelength as you are.
According to scientists human beings cannot truly love another person if they don’t laugh with us, or make us laugh. It makes sense as there are endless health benefits from laughing. The notion “Laughter is the best medicine” springs to mind and it has been scientifically proven that laughter can help lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals), relax your muscles, and prevent heart disease. At this rate laughter may just be better than kale.
But surely laughter cannot be the key to saving a dying relationship? If that was all it took, would there be fewer families being torn apart by divorce? Would remaining committed to your partners be easier simply by laughing more? Perhaps the study’s conclusion would have been more accurate had it claimed: “Couples who laugh together have a stronger bond!”
What happens when you use laughter to deflect a serious situation? Or when you take a joke with your partner too far? When people feel that the laughter is directed AT them, instead of your partner laughing WITH you then it can be a bitter pill to swallow!
PERCEPTION OF HUMOUR
As with most forms of communication, laughter is heavily reliant on one’s perception of humour. What may be funny to you, may not necessarily be perceived as funny to your partner. Sometimes we forget that, we are human after-all. Therefore it is important to infuse humour into your relationships. Infuse? Yes, infuse because it is something that doesn’t always happen naturally. Life can drain the humour right out of your relationships…a cheating partner, a sick child, financial constraints, stress, family issues, bills, unemployment…these can all have adverse effects on your love life so it is a matter of intentionally fusing your lives with laughter.
One does need to be mindful however, to know where the personal boundaries are, the sword & shield approach is the reference here: With the sword you inflict intentional pain and then shield yourself from any repercussions by hiding behind the excuse “I was just kidding, can’t you take a joke?” It’s the cowards approach as this is what happens when there are serious relational issues but you are using a “joke” to bring attention to it because you are afraid to discuss it rationally. Humor helps you stay resilient in the face of life’s challenges. But there are times when humor is NOT healthy—and that’s when it is used as a cover for avoiding, rather than coping with, painful emotions.
“A lot of truth is said in jest!”
However on the flip side of the coin, the research points to the fact that couples who have a genuine sense of humour handle their issues better and diffuse the tension that may arise in conflict with better skill. It really is a double-edged sword. Relationships are like a maze, each one with its own unique set of circumstances, highs & lows so it doesn’t seem fair to conclude that laughter alone can solve all matters of the heart or that you and your partner can get through the maze unscathed.
We could all do with a little more laughter in our love lives and lives in general, so maybe just maybe this should be considered as being a vital component to your relationship, along with trust, loyalty, strong communication, respect & honesty. Perhaps your deeper, more enduring love and appreciation for one another can still be fun. So dance around in the kitchen together to your own music, chase each other around the house naked if you have to (when the kids are away or in bed of course) and most importantly smile….SMILE your way to new intimacy!