“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” Audrey Hepburn was on to something. Laughter is an extraordinarily powerful force in our lives. It refreshes us physically and mentally, while brightening our mood and engaging us with our inner child. Did you know, however, that laughter can also improve our relationships? Laughter connects us with one another in an intimate way, and can be used to build a strong connection and to help that bond to last through even the roughest of patches.
Did you know, however, that laughter can also improve our relationships? Laughter connects us with one another in an intimate way, and can be used to build a strong connection and to help that bond to last through even the roughest of patches.
Here are three reasons you should use laughter to resolve your next conflict:
Laughter Gives You a Shared Joke
This, and the rest of the advice outlined here, will only work if you are both in on the joke. Using snide or sarcastic humor with the intent of undermining your partner will only push you farther apart and damage the relationship. Similarly, a joke that your partner does not understand or appreciate will only make them feel more out of sync with you. A sincerely shared and mutually enjoyed moment of humor, however, can become a running inside joke in your relationship.
For example, one couple we know, when running late, declares “sorry, we hit a bear,” and then dissolves into giggles. Although nobody else gets their joke, which has to do with a silly excuse he made up when he was late meeting her parents for the first time, these two think this line is just the height of comedy. The fact that nobody else even gets it is actually kind of great – it puts them into their own little intimate and joyful world and gives them a moment just to themselves. This kind of humor will strengthen your bond, and may one day become a treasured memory.
Laughter Ends the Power Struggle.
Laughing with someone can diffuse tension, allow you to reconnect, and give you a moment unfocused on your argument in which to regain perspective. This can help you to re-frame your disagreement as the silly spat that it is, rather than a heated and important battle for superiority and dominance. This will strengthen your bond and allow you both to loosen the grip on your stance. You will end the giggle session more strongly connected, less entrenched in your point of view, and ready to solve the fight from a new angle – after all, laughter is known to increase your capacity for creative problem solving.
Humor Can Help You Express Difficult Emotions
George Bernard Shaw once said “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” Some of us have trouble being vulnerable, and using laughter can help to explain a tricky feeling to your significant other. There is a delicate line between using humor to access an emotion and using humor to hide it, so be careful that you are doing the former and not the latter. Using a joke to hide an emotion will undermine your feelings and disconnect you from your partner. Using it to make an emotion more easily communicated, however, can diffuse the tension and endear you to your significant other. For example, consider a woman who is jealous of the attention her husband is getting from an attractive co-worker. “Oh, yeah, I’m so jealous,” with an eye roll, would not help to resolve the situation.
It would shut down the conversation and turn the tone to a contentious one. “I just worry about other women eyeing those rock-hard abs,” however, addresses the topic in a less intimidating and more playful way.
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.” Kurt Vonnegut understood the power as laughter as it relates to the emotions we fear most in a fight. The next time you find yourself on the verge of tears when arguing with your partner, take a cue from Vonnegut and make your significant other giggle instead. It will save the moment, and possibly even your relationship.