Marriage advice: keep a sense of a humor

Laughter is important for a happy marriage

For 22 years now, I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart. We are together more than we are apart, especially since we both work from home and share a home office. In fact, I’m typing this blog post at my desk while he’s at his desk a few feet away working on his computer. (Don’t ask me to explain what he’s doing, because I don’t understand most of his work as an IT security consultant!) We’ve learned lots of things through our couple of decades being hitched and we’ve got all sorts of marriage advice to dole out.

In fact, for this post, I asked my husband for some of his marriage advice or what we do well in our relationship. He gave me a few ideas like communicating well or working from home together, which I’ve written about. And then he mentioned a sense of humor. I’ve not talked about that so much, and I think I’ve been failing you guys in that regard. A sense of humor is a big part of a happy marriage.

You don’t take yourselves too seriously.

I’m human. My husband’s human. Neither of us are perfect. We mess up and make mistakes. Laughing about some of these mistakes keeps us from taking the mess ups too seriously. Obviously, some things aren’t funny no matter what. But other things really are.

Probably one of the things we laugh about most is miscommunication. When it comes to marriage advice, you must address miscommunication, because it happens!

For example, a couple of weeks ago, my husband was telling me about an article he read. Some homeowners put a rude note on their door about Halloween. My husband commented that people replied saying the homeowners might as well hang their own TP.

Now, typed out, you know that “TP” stands for “toilet paper.” Spoken aloud, however, as we were in the midst of folding towels and telling the kids to get ready for bed, my mind went to “teepee.” I didn’t get the joke. I thought maybe if those people were skipping Halloween, they were going straight to Thanksgiving and putting up a teepee to honor the Native Americans. But that didn’t really make sense. And who hangs a teepee anyway?

My husband noted my confusion. In just a few words, we cleared up my mistake and then laughed so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks about my error.

While this was a small miscommunication of basically no consequence on our marriage, it is just one example of times we learn to laugh together at ourselves. Had my husband rudely laughed at me and declared I was stupid, then I wouldn’t have found it funny at all. But we’ve both learned to laugh at ourselves over small mistakes like this one. And even better, we can laugh at them together. You know the saying, “I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you.” That applies tenfold in a marriage. It ought to be found in marriage advice books.

There have also been times that I haven’t found humor in my mistakes, and my husband has helped me see that humor – in a kind and gentle way. It helps me not take myself too seriously. Life is too short for that!

A sense of humor gives you perspective.

Sometimes little stuff can seem like big stuff, but keeping a sense of humor about it keeps things in perspective. To keep your marriage happy, you’ve got to have that perspective when things go sideways.

My husband and I started our marriage learning the importance of a sense of humor. We were so excited to be married and going on a honeymoon together that we drove to our destination without thinking that cars need gas. Our car had a full tank when we left, and neither of us paid any mind to the gas gauge as we went.

We puttered into the visitor’s center just before our destination on gas fumes. It was a moment that could have been rife with tension. Instead, we figured out how to get to a gas station, fill up the car and keep going. Pretty quickly, we laughed at ourselves for not having thought to get gas. In the grand scheme of life, that extra half hour we spent dealing with a car with no gas was a teeny, tiny blip. It wasn’t worth being mad at each other about. And it certainly gave us a memorable moment!

Sometimes in the small moments that can seem irritating, we need to take a minute to regroup and even laugh. If nothing earth-shattering is going on, is it really worth arguing about? Why not laugh instead of snap?

Laughter is good for the soul.

Research shows laughter is good for your health. I know from experience that laughter is good for the soul, and that goes for the soul of your marriage as well. Sometimes you need that laughter more than others. During those times, the best marriage advice is to find ways to laugh together.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, my husband was fresh out of surgery for a rotator cuff repair. In fact, the day after my husband’s surgery, my children’s school announced the switch to virtual learning. I was overwhelmed to think of managing his care and their school. It was stressful.

While it got a bit easier as time went by and he was able to do more for himself, it was still a lot to deal with – especially considering we were also dealing with the stress and anxiety of a global pandemic. Though we couldn’t change the circumstances, we could take time to laugh together. So, we watched stand-up comedy together many evenings before bed and laughed.

We found “Dry Bar Comedy,” which is stand-up comedy with clean humor, and we’d laugh together before going to bed. It was a stress reliever we needed individually, but also as a couple. Health issues alone are a challenge to a marriage. Any time one of you has to be the caretaker, it’s a different dynamic. Laughing together helped us feel normal and relieved stress. It was a win all around.

Laughing together brings you closer.

You might have heard the person you look at first when you’re laughing is who you like the most. The could be true, but research has shown for sure that laughing together with someone else makes you feel closer to that person. Seriously. Truthfully, for this marriage advice, I didn’t know there was scientific evidence to back it up until I was researching for this blog post after I wrote this subheading. But I knew it to be true from my relationship with my husband.

We do a variety of things that make me feel closer to him and laughing together is one of them. At any given time, we are juggling various responsibilities and stressors. Life can bog us down, but when we laugh together even in the midst of challenging times, I feel closer to him. It doesn’t even have to be humor related to what we’re dealing with (though we’ve done that, too). It just is spending time together and realizing that life can get hard and crazy but together we can still have fun.

And nobody makes me laugh or truly understands my humor like my husband does. The man knows good puns and dad jokes crack me up. He knows that I laugh way too much at talking animal videos. Sometimes we need laughter to break tension, relieve stress and remind us that we are connected.

You create inside jokes.

Nothing feels worse than being left out of an inside joke with other people. But nothing feels better than being part of an inside joke with someone else. While it’s fun to smile or laugh together at an inside joke, it works well for your marriage because it makes you feel connected. It reminds you that you have a whole history with this person — in a good way.

My husband and I have a few inside jokes that have happened through the years. They evolve naturally. One of perhaps the oddest ones happened years ago before we even had children (and our oldest is 12!). We were walking into Target behind a couple of high schoolers. We overheard part of their conversation that went like this:

Teen 1: I wish I was like Nellie.

Teen 2: I wish I was Nellie.

(And then here comes the kicker.)

Teen 1: I wish my name was Nellie.

I’d guess you aren’t riotously laughing at that exchange right now, but the seriousness of their discussion and that the ultimate wish was to just have a different name made us laugh. We have brought that up at random times. That’s how the best inside jokes are. They aren’t so funny to someone who wasn’t there at the time, but they are to you.

In your marriage, it’s the small stuff like this that brings you closer together, makes you feel good and helps you remember why you love this person.

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Marriage advice: keep a sense of a humorMarriage advice: keep a sense of a humor