The Role of Laughter in a Marriage
I have been observing long-term marriages that seem to be happy marriages, and wondering what it is that keeps them together in this turbulent world we live in, where the divorce rate is high.
I found a common denominator: they laugh a lot. The couples have incredible senses of humor.
Then, I watched some successful executives. The culture in their companies was not as stressed as one would expect. They were really not that sophisticated in their management or leadership, either. The common denominator? They had great sense of humor.
What is going on? Humor disarms.
Laughter is evoked when one exaggerates a phenomenon until it looks ridiculous. The phenomenon has, at its core, something which is true, which is then exaggerated. It becomes like a cartoon. Thus, it is funny.
Humor relaxes. Humor releases negative energy.
If you can laugh at your destiny, you can be happy because nothing is so serious that it calls one to suffer.
I said to myself, “I better try that in my marriage.” While in the past I would get into an argument with my spouse over something that might become increasingly heated, I now try to see what is funny in it and react in a way that makes her laugh. When I succeed, she laughs and then hugs me.
What in the past was a cause for not speaking to one another for days is now a cause for hugging and laughing, and realizing nothing is worth being in pain over. All problems are laughable if you put your mind to it. (I am not referring to tragedies.)
If you can laugh at yourself, you can overcome much of the travails of modern life.
It is interesting that most comedians come from minority groups or oppressed groups that survive oppression with laughter. For example, the Jewish people. Yiddish humor is well-known all over the world. The same goes for African Americans.
The more serious you are, the more you take the world as a burden. The more critical you are, the more stress you bring to your life and to your marriage.
It is the same with work. Can you take problems not as crises, but just as problems that can be laughed at? If you can make other people laugh, you can disarm them and remove aggression.
Be careful though. When some people laugh, they are not really laughing. They are actually crying. Laughing is their way to release tension.
Also, be careful with cultural differences. More than once I’ve had to beg pardon from my audience because I used a joke which was supposed to make a point about the material being presented and I heard the audience gasp. All jokes are culturally based. They do not easily translate from one culture to another. In America and in Scandinavian countries it is not OK to make any jokes at the expense of women. But it is OK to laugh at men. This custom is totally notaccepted in Serbia, where jokes about women are accepted but jokes about men are rejected.
Obviously, you have to be very careful and know when to laugh and when not laugh, such as in tragic moments.
Dare to think, and even more, dare to share what I think ,
Dr Ichak Kalderon Adizes
Founder and CEO, Adizes Institute Worldwide