I hope you all had a beautiful summer filled with adventures, joy and laughter. For the first time in 11 years, there was no blog post from me in August. Instead, I have used the summer to focus on my YouTube channel to create many videos for you: Shorts (under 60 seconds) and slightly longer videos (usually around 10 minutes, some longer). Many relationship topics are now available on video, and I will continue to record further ones. So, please check out my YouTube channel, subscribe, click the notification bell, and feel free to like or comment when a video is helpful. That gives me feedback on what topics interest you most.
I have also focused on laughter this summer, getting my Laughter Yoga Leader certification and considering how to bring more laughter into my sessions with clients. Today, I want to shine a light on the role of laughter in our marriage or long-term relationship.
Meet Matt and Anne: The day was exhausting for Anne; the children were out of control, and the colleagues were difficult. None of this is funny, and Anne is irritated and ready to snap at Matt when he comes home, which would set off a fight. But it does not come to that because Matt manages to say something funny at the right time. Both have to laugh, and the stress subsides.
Laughter works to de-escalate relationship conflicts and reconnects. Being playful with each other and laughing at oneself and life together helps us instantly shift our perspective and reconnect with our partner. Laughter also connects, relaxes and is immensely important for our physical health.
When you ask women what qualities they seek in the men they date, one clue is the abbreviation GSOH in their dating profiles, which translates to “a good sense of humour.” Studies show that women, when dating, are more attracted to men who make them laugh. Interestingly, there also seems to be a gender gap, as the reverse does not apply. According to these studies, men primarily seek somebody who will laugh at their jokes and appreciate their sense of humour.
Why is a sense of humour such an attractive quality? Is it simply that laughter makes us feel good because it stimulates the release of the hormone serotonin in the brain, which helps us relax and feel more openhearted towards others?
Psychologist Theresa DiDonato* points out that the kind of humour based on quick-witted replies requires that the person possess intelligence, creativity and a feeling for the perfect social timing, all qualities we usually desire when seeking a mate. “For long-term relationships, high-quality humor, the kind that is spontaneous and difficult to fake, outperforms unsophisticated humor perhaps because the former conveys underlying intelligence (Miller, 2000a; 2000b)”.
That applies across cultures, as DiDonato summarizes: “Humor is attractive not only in the United States (Sprecher & Regan, 2002) but in cultures all over the world (Hatfield & Sprecher, 1995; Lippa, 2007). Laboratory studies echo self-reported preferences, showing that people rate humorous hypothetical dating prospects more favorably than less humorous candidates (McGee & Shevlin, 2009).” However, humour, she notes, also falls flat at times and can, in those cases, hurt relationship initiation.
Image by Thomas Manin from Pixabay
According to psychologist Kay Bauer, who conducts research at the University of Halle and has a doctorate in laughter, a person’s humour also tells us something about their worldview and values. People who like to tell funny stories to laugh with others show what is known as connecting humour. Those who don’t lose their humorous outlook on life, even on less amusing days, have humour that psychologists describe as self-strengthening.
However, humour can also be aggressive or sarcastic and serve to put other people down with jokes at their expense. Aggressive humour, often cynical and sarcastic and aimed at devaluing or manipulating other people, also tends to have a destructive effect on relationships. Hence, humour helps the relationship—unless you put your partner down with your “jokes” or your style of humour differs significantly.
Individuals have different values, and they gravitate toward like-minded people. Most of the time, people find each other based on similarity. Partners with a similar sense of humour are likelier to share a similar value system. And that is extremely helpful for the success of a love relationship.
Laughter has physically noticeable effects. Laughter research, known as gelotology, has found that laughter reduces stress, releases happiness hormones, positively affects the cardiovascular system and even strengthens the immune system. According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of laughter include an increase in oxygen intake, lower blood pressure, better circulation and a more positive state of mind, which lowers depression. A humorous relationship is, therefore, not just nice – it is literally healthy for us.
To learn more about laughter and
how to bring more playfulness into your relationship
reach out for a complimentary Zoom consultation.
Belief Change & Relationship Coaching