Ask most people what they think is the cause of marriages falling apart and they are likely to tell you that they are no longer attracted to their spouse or that they can’t communicate with each other.
They may say that when they first started going together they couldn’t keep their hands off one another and now they seldom touch each other. They may say that their sex life has become routine, not enough foreplay, not enough diversity, not interesting enough.
They may talk about how the children take up all their time and energy and at the end of the day, they are so tired that all they want to do is go to sleep.
They may even say that their partner shuts them out, can’t express emotions, and has little to say when they’re alone. They think they are boring their partner because their partner doesn’t act interested in what they have to say.
And all of those things may be true. However, wherever I look, the biggest factor that comes into play is the absence of laughter.
When couples first get together they laugh a lot. They find each other’s stories interesting, they find each other interesting. They want to share the events of the day and they never run out of things to say to each other. But even more than that, they laugh with each other.
Even people who have a very serious temperament and those who are very introverted, seem to laugh a lot at the beginning of a relationship. There is a lightheartedness that is lost to them as they become more involved. And even more so after they get married or start to live together.
I remember a time when I was with a group of people and a woman looked up with a pained expression on her face as she heard her husband laughing at something someone had said. She turned to us and said, “I haven’t heard him laugh in years.”
For me, laughter has always been sort of like a clearing house, a storing house where I can find humor even in the darkest times. It’s a place where troubles melt away for the briefest interlude and lets you know that if you can find something funny at that precise moment, then there’s hope for tomorrow.
Many a man has used humor to get a woman into bed. It’s one of the most seductive methods that have ever been employed and seldom recognized at the time of enticement. I once heard a man telling someone that it doesn’t matter if the man is butt ugly, if he can get a woman to laugh, he can get her into bed.
If laughter is the way to someone’s heart, then do men and women really need to worry about the way they look? Do they really need to go to the gym to keep in shape? Do they really need those hair products and that expensive wardrobe?
To a certain extent, they do. But perhaps it’s just the packaging to get someone to notice you and the rest is based on laughter.
We have all seen beautiful women and handsome men with partners who are beyond plain looking and we wonder what the gorgeous one saw in the plain one. Maybe they had the opportunity to showcase their personality and get the other person to laugh. And maybe that’s all it took, especially if they continued to laugh.
When people have serious problems it’s very difficult to find things to laugh about, especially if those problems go on for an extended period of time.
There have been numerous books and articles written about how laughter has cured people with terminal diseases. One writer wrote how, after being told by his doctor that he didn’t have long to live, checked into a hotel for a week with all the video tapes of The Three Stooges he could get and laughed himself into wellness.
Laughter fills up an empty space in us. It allows us to not take ourselves so seriously. It can even show us that our problems don’t have to take over our lives and that if we can laugh a few times a day, our problems won’t seem so crushing.
In the words of Management Consultant, Odette Pollar, “Laughter lets me relax. It’s the equivalent of taking a deep breath, letting it out and saying,’This too will pass.'”
When we hear people say that you have to work hard at your marriage if you want it to survive the good times and the bad times, this may be the crux of the matter. It may be that you have to work hard to find things to laugh about, to find humor in something, even when you think there is nothing to laugh about.
Comedian, Gilda Radner, said, “Cancer is probably the most unfunny thing in the world, but I’m a comedian, and even cancer couldn’t stop me from seeing the humor in what I went through.”
When we talk about a good marriage taking work, I think a large part of that work, like Gilda Radner says, lies in seeing the humor in situations that aren’t funny. It’s part of what makes me believe that the couple that laughs together, stays together.