Have you ever been in the middle of a fight with your special lady or gentleman, only to burst into fits of laughter? If so, you can relate to my parents’ harried experience back in the 1970s. They were newlyweds when an intruder walked right through the front door of their trailer… “Meow!”
In walked a stray cat – like it owned the place – and Dad protected his castle. He proceeded to kick the cat, which did not set well with my animal-loving mother… who kicked my dad for kicking the cat. Dad, not tolerating such disrespect, kicked Mom… and then they both burst out laughing at this ridiculous display. No one knows what happened to the cat. My guess is that it decided living on the street was safer than living with my parents.
Eric and I have also enjoyed some ridiculous fight moments. My favorite is when we lost our minds on each other in the Winnie the Pooh store, Disneyland, 2007. Due to a misunderstanding, our four-year-old nephew was missing. I thought Eric knew he was supposed to be watching him, so I screamed, “You lost him!” (And, apparently, charged forward like I was going to hit him – which I don’t have a recollection of doing) Eric’s response was to yell back and [he says, reactively] charge towards me (I do remember that! ~smile~). Thanks be to God, we stopped ourselves, left the store, and found our nephew embracing his mom about twenty yards away.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin
Any married couple with more than five minutes of marriage experience can attest to the fact that life and marriage can be tough and, at times, exhausting. However, just because something is challenging, draining, and occasionally painful does not mean it cannot also be rewarding, energizing, comforting, and well worth the struggle. Eric and I have experienced rough patches galore, but we have also shared some incredible laughs; and, those lighter moments help to put life into perspective.
You and your future spouse will fight – it is a given. Do not be surprised when it happens. When couples tell us, “We never fight,” we do not believe them. Maybe they do not throw down, but they do disagree. Humans who live together do not always see eye to eye; and, if it appears that they do, someone is not living authentically. When we encounter long-term couples who “never fight,” we instantly detect a problem.
Whether or not couples fight is not an indicator of relational success. How couples choose to resolve those fights is what matters. Couples who have a solid foundation of friendship, share similar senses of humor, and laugh together regularly are less likely to allow disagreements to fester and sour their relationship. I remember comedian Mark Lowry saying, “People cannot laugh and keep their arms folded. They have to bring their arms down.” When we laugh, there is a release of tension. The world seems cheerier. We get a glimpse of better days to come and find it very difficult to stay bound up in anger while heartily laughing.
“Laughter is an instant vacation.” – Milton Berle
One evening, about seven years ago, Eric was reading the Bible to me when I lost control and laughed until my sides ached. Eric remained calmly amused, which made me laugh even harder. The Scripture verse that catapulted me into unbridled glee?
“Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the LORD said to him, ‘You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess.’” (Joshua 13:1, ESV)
Yep, it makes no sense, but the redundancy of the Lord stating what the passage just said, and the look on Eric’s face when he read it, did me in for the next fifteen minutes. We had to stop reading so I could collect myself. And it was an instant vacation. I did not have to pack. It was free! Years later, the memory still brings me joy. Milton Berle was onto something!
If laughter is not a regular part of your relationship, take steps to intentionally add it – especially if you are interested in staying together for a lifetime.
- Go to a comedy show.
- Listen to clean comedy through an online streaming music service.
- Tell each other jokes over dinner.
- Share amusing moments which happened throughout your day.
- Find the humor in the aggravating moments of your life. (There has to be something funny about dumping your smoothie all over the floor when you are already running late for work!)
- Enjoy inside jokes, write them on post-it notes, and tuck them into random places (e.g., glove box, lunch bag, wallet, shoe, etc.).
- Surround yourselves with friends who make you laugh – friends who are real and open about the challenges in their lives – and can find the humor in the daily struggles.
Take instant vacations daily.
A few weeks ago, Eric and I enjoyed a rousing game of Pictionary with some church friends. Though I already knew I could not draw, I confirmed any lingering doubts that night. Still, I threw caution to the wind and drew my little heart out. Who knew my artistic creations would bring such merriment to the room? (And who knew my dinosaur drawing would end up on Facebook? … and this post!)
At one point I was directed to draw a brush fire. I scribbled vigorously, sketching dried tree limbs and blazing flames. Too bad the brush and the fire looked exactly the same – like random orange jagged lines. Eric guessed with all his might, but alas, he could not figure out the subject of my (obvious) illustration.
Laughter filled the air as I revealed my masterpiece.
Eric: “Why didn’t you just draw a picture of a brush plus a fire?”
Me: “Yeah, that would’ve made more sense…”
That night was an instant vacation for all of us. ~smile~
Pick the Ugly Guy Who Makes You Laugh
One of my favorite college professors looked her classroom full of junior and senior girls in the face and said, “Don’t you get married without kissing the guy first! You can kiss a lot longer than you can do other things!” Of course, the class cackled – especially since we were on a Christian campus that (at the time) banned kissing on school property (not that most people obeyed that rule).
In the same spirit, I would encourage any dating couple to avoid engagement until you know you can (and will) laugh together regularly. If your relationship is too serious, your life will be too serious. And, just like kissing, you can laugh together a lot longer than you can do other things.
Ladies, if forced to choose between the suave guy who makes you swoon and the less attractive guy who makes you laugh, pick the ugly guy who makes you laugh.
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22, ESV).
“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed” (Proverbs 15:13, ESV).
Remember me with smiles and laughter…
When I think of a home filled with joy and laughter, I picture lush relational gardens of flowers and fruit. When I imagine a silent home filled with tension and resentment, I see sandy deserts void of life. What do you picture?
That handsome guy is going to get old and will not be as good-looking twenty, thirty, or forty years from now; but, that average Joe who has an amazing character and a terrific sense of humor – he will become more handsome the more you grow to love him. That lovely lady’s waist is going to expand, and gravity will take its toll. But, that girl in the corner who does not resemble anyone you have ever seen on TV – the one who has a gentle spirit, a delightful laugh, and the joy of the Lord – she will seem more beautiful to you with every passing year.
“Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I will remember you all. If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Memories of Granny
It is hard to believe my precious grandmother has been at home with her Savior for more than four years now; and, though I would not wish her back to this crazy world, I would simply love to hear her laugh one more time. She had an incredible laugh. She laughed with her entire body – and loudly. If Granny Jones got tickled about something, the neighbors knew it. It was hard to stay in a bad mood around that kind of joy.
Granny did not live an extravagant life. By some metrics, she lived a boring existence – caring for her family, praying, and working in her church. And, though her days did not typically include heart-pounding adventure and crazy stories, she always found a reason to laugh, a reason to praise God, and a reason to nurture someone else. She would call our pastor and encourage him. She even called the Meals on Wheels office to tell them how much she enjoyed their food (and, yes, they were amazed to receive a thank you rather than a complaint).
She did not travel the world, but she had a merry heart. If faced with the choice between a lifetime of adrenaline pumping adventure sans any mirth, and a simple life filled with family, friends, and lots of laughs, then I would undoubtedly choose the laughs. What about you?
Be Sure to Laugh Together
You will, Lord willing, be married a long time. In those years, you will cover a lot of ground, learn a lot, work many hours, and share countless moments together. What do you think of when you visualize those moments? The stress of constant tension, the silence of broken communication, or the happy sounds of hard fought, heartfelt laughter?
No matter how important romance, a full head of hair, a skinny waist, dreamy eyes, pouty lips, and a smooth demeanor may seem now, please do not neglect to select a mate with whom you can laugh – belly laugh – fall on the floor laughing. If you cannot snort laugh with this person, he or she is not the one for you.
It is better to spend fifty years of marriage in a tiny house filled with laughter than traveling the world in stony silence.
When is the last time you laughed until you cried with your special someone?