by Dr. Ken Potts
In my work with couples, there sometimes comes a moment in the midst of a heated argument when one or both spouses breaks out laughing. The tension eases and, almost miraculously, the argument moves toward resolution. Laughter can play an important role in our lives, especially in our marriages. In fact, the ability to laugh together is an important reason for marital success given by many couples. Here’s why:
1. First, laughter can simply be a confession of our own individual weakness and irrationality. Let’s face it, we all are a bit crazy now and then. When we can at least laugh about it, our spouse no longer needs to forcefully point it out to us. Our laughter also invites forgiveness. And it frees us to work together on resolving our problem.
2. Second, laughter can be a healthy response to the craziness in the world around us. There will always be problems and crises which life throws our way, despite our best efforts to avoid them. When a husband and wife can first acknowledge, accept, and then share their feelings in such situations, together they can also often find some humor. A minor auto accident, for instance, is certainly a frustrating experience. Yet, we may also find humor in such incidents and our responses to them.
3. Third, laughter can also unite us in sharing the truly humorous and joyful. Our lives are hopefully well stocked with opportunities to feel good together. When we share these, we continue to strengthen the foundation of positive intimacy upon which our marriage is built.
Of course, laughter can also be misused. For instance, it can be a weapon we use to belittle or hurt our spouse, making fun of his or her weaknesses or mistakes, hitting “below the belt.” We can also misuse laughter to side-step a conflict which needs to be faced. Similarly, our laughter can be a way to avoid expressing the painful or angry feelings we really need to express. When used appropriately, how-ever, laughter is an important resource for any couple who seeks to create an enduring and happy marriage. More often than not, our laughter provides the perspective to both understand, and live through, the highs and lows of our life together.
Dr. Ken Potts is on staff at Samaritan Interfaith and is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Licensed Social Worker and is certified by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. To learn more about Dr. Potts or other Samaritan therapists click here.
Samaritan Interfaith inspires hope, facilitates change and creates lasting impact on individuals, families and faith-based organizations. We offer Spirit led, compassionate care through counseling, education and consulting