Don't Forget to Laugh, Marriage Message 107

We just received an e-mail from the Romantic Vineyard ministry that
reminded those who subscribe to their service, to "Laugh!" That's right...
don't forget to laugh. It can be a lifeline to your marriage relationship.
How easy that is to forget!

We realize that many of you are living in difficult marriages (and/or in
difficult life situations) and laughter doesn't seem like much of an
option very often. But even if your spouse or others don't give you much
to laugh about, and even though life may not seem so funny, we encourage
you to FIND something that will bring a smile to your face and tickle your
funny bone. It may be the best thing for you right now and for your future

I (Cindy) recently wrote an article for our web site at titled, "Warning Signs That a Marriage is in
Crisis" (which we have posted in the "save My Marriage" section). And one
of the many signs includes: "IF THE LAUGHTER HAS GONE OUT OF YOUR

"This might not seem to be as critical as some of the other signs that are
listed, but don't be fooled. If you see this happening, this is the time
to infuse laughter back into the relationship again. The couple that
doesn't laugh together has lost a critical healing component to their
relationship. The Bible says, 'laughter (or a cheerful heart) is good
medicine' (Proverbs 17:22). If you stop laughing together, your marriage
can more naturally slide into a crisis mode."

"Laughter bonds people. Any good friend will tell you that laughter is the
shortest distance between two people--especially in marriage" (Drs. Les &
Leslie Parrott).

There are a host of different reasons why laughter is important in a
marriage. The following are "5 reasons you should make your spouse laugh."
It comes from an article posted on the Internet titled, "Love, Laughter
and Marriage: Why Laughter is Vital to a Healthy Relationship." (We have a
link on our web site to the article so you can read the "reasons" in full,
plus other points of interest on this subject.) But, here are the basic
reasons given:

1. Laughter fosters a sense of playfulness and shared abandon.
2. Laughter forges a positive bond.
3. Laughter brings greater perspective.
4. Laughter reduces defensiveness and opens you up to new experiences.
5. Laughter acts as a buffer to stress.

On that note, in an article titled, "Reasons to Laugh Each Day (and how it
beats anger)", author, Ed Welch told of an occasion where he could have
reacted to his wife in anger, but instead used humor. It has become a
powerful marital "secret" he and his wife are learning to use more often.
He wrote:

"Early in my marriage I would react poorly to my wife's tone of voice.
Sometimes, it seemed to me, she spoke with a hint of contempt and
condescension, and if I ever caught a whiff of that, I would not laugh.

"Well her parents came to stay with us and the magical moment took place
that very first evening they were at our house. My mother-in-law was
saying something to my father-in-law that sounded strangely like my wife's
'Voice' (we had a name for it) only exaggerated. Here was my opportunity
to grow in wisdom. How would my father-in-law respond? If he said
something helpful, I would have an entirely new template on how to respond
to my wife. I was confident he would do something wise, which he did. He
laughed, and that was the end of it.

"Later that evening the Voice made a brief appearance in my wife. I
laughed. My wife hugged me, as if I had given her the best present ever.

"I figure I had two options. My preference had been, 'How could you say
that to me?' The second was, 'If you think I am going to waver in my
affection towards you because you sound a little testy, then you have
another think coming!' That moment was probably the first time I had
chosen option two --and I have been trying to stick with option two ever

"I'd like to say that I'm highly skilled at laughing at the appropriate
moment --my own stupidity, an inconvenience, a modest slight, another
person's over-reaction. But I'm not. 'How could you say that to me?' still
runs too deep. But, with a theology of laughter in hand, I'm growing.

"Here's the funny thing. When I came home from that conference in which
the presenter encouraged us to laugh with our spouse at least 5 days out
of 7, my wife and I had a good laugh at a marital 'secret' that was so
superficial and silly. And, indeed, it could have used some biblical
rationale. But today I'm laughing with my wife about ironic events, our
foibles, or even sins, and I'm laughing about these things approximately 4
days out of every 7. She loves it. So do I. And I'm aiming for 5."

Great secret! Of course, laughter isn't always appropriate to use all the
time --which this article later points out (we have a link to it on our
web site in this Marriage Message so you can read the rest). But there are
times when it can be just the right "medicine" to head off an argument.

The Bible tells us: "Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop
the matter before a dispute breaks out" (Proverbs 17:14). "It is to a
man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel" (Proverbs
20:3). So, sometimes, when appropriate, you can add humor to the situation
to avoid a "dispute" or "strife."

As Dr. Les Parrott points out in Focus on the Family article titled, "Why
Laughter is Good for Your Marriage": "Take it from professionals:
Legendary comedian Bob Hope says laughter is an 'instant vacation.' Jay
Leno says, 'You can't stay mad at somebody who makes you laugh.' And the
great Bill Cosby says, 'If you can find humor in anything, you can survive
it.' Researchers agree. Studies reveal that individuals who have a strong
sense of humor are less likely to experience burnout and depression and
they are more likely to enjoy life in general --including their marriage."

The point we hope you take away today is: DON'T FORGET TO LAUGH. Look for
the "funny" around you, even if you have to look far and wide. It could
help you AND your marriage!