The next habit for healthy and happy marriages is: Take an “instant vacation”.
Laughter has a way of relieving stress and reminding us to enjoy our mate. Famed comedian Bob Hope said laughter is an “instant vacation.” It relaxes us and reminds us that there’s joy even in the mundane moments of life. A steady diet of humor will go a long way toward giving your relationship the elasticity it needs for the two of you to stay connected, even in the midst of challenges.
When was the last time you had a good laugh with your spouse? Most of us encounter a good deal of stress in our daily lives, which tends to make us overly serious. We lose our sense of humor, and with it our resiliency as a couple.
Whether stresses originate from a job or the challenges of balancing kids, home maintenance, or other responsibilities, they often lead to marital tension. When stress is activated the body continuously releases cortisol, chronic elevated levels of which can lead to serious problems. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and sugar, contribute to obesity, and more.
What’s a proven antidote for stress? Laughter.
Turns out that Proverbs 17:22 is scientifically proven! It tells us “A cheerful heart is a good medicine.” Researchers have found that laughter is effective in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress in breast cancer patients.[i] Other studies have demonstrated major positive effects on quality of life, resilience, immunity, and insomnia in cancer patients.[ii] Laughter is just good for you.
Here’s a few tips as to how to increase the laughter quotient in your marriage:
- Get silly. Let yourselves be playful. Friends of ours created a wonderfully playful memory while on a cruise. Cruise ships have all sorts of nooks and crannies. They initiated a game of chase and for one hour while she dodged and darted into hiding places, he pursued her. The passengers got into the act and started helping one or the other until they ended in a pile of laughter, with celebrating onlookers.
- Develop an inside joke. My husband was once given a birthday card that showed an old couple looking out across a body of water toward a peninsula. The picture on the front of the card showed the wife asking her husband what the narrow stretch of land was called. Not knowing, he concocted an answer and confidently said, “It’s a stick out.” The inside of the card said, “One year older, and one year closer to making up bunk.” Now, whenever my husband and I encounter someone we think is making something up, we look at each other and whisper, “Stick out!” It always brings a smile to our faces.
- Watch a television show or movie that makes you both laugh.
- Take some time over dinner to remember the funniest things your kids have ever done or said.
- Find a funny YouTube video or app and send it to your spouse during the workday. Monk-e-maker is especially funny, as you can send your spouse a picture of themselves mocked up to look like a monkey.
- Set up some funny notifications that will pop up on your mate’s phone.
- Find at least three things that are guaranteed to make you both laugh and do them regularly!
Investing in laughter will bring joy to your marriage and give you the resiliency you need in the face of the stresses and challenges of life together.
For a good laugh and a load of great input on marriage check out Mark Gungor’s “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.”
[i] S. H. Kim, Y. H. Kim, and H. J. Kim, “Laughter and Stress Relief in Cancer Patients: A Pilot Study,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2015), http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/864739/.
[ii] George Bonanno, “Loss, Trauma, and Human Resilience,” American Psychologist (January 2004), 20–28.