Find out how the benefits of laughter helped me survive the worst years of my life and still is the thing that bonds my husband and I in our marriage.
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MARRYING THE CLASS CLOWN
When I first met my husband, he had bleach blonde hair and was learning a punk rock version of the bagpipes.
We instantly connected through our love of movie quotes and similar sense of humor. Most people, when they first meet my husband, can’t tell if he’s joking around or being serious. For example, the time when he showed me a picture of his brown-haired conservative country family and told me he was adopted. Or the time he hid a life-sized talking Austin Powers cut-out in the shower and scared me half to death.
I loved the challenge of trying to out-do one another and be spontaneous and silly, and now that we’ve been together almost 20 years, we’ve learned our own secret language of quick comebacks mixed with movie quotes.
I’m pretty sure 95% of our fights have ended with one of us making the other laugh.
Even the day we were married, our going-away outfits were a reference to Dumb and Dumber.
WHEN LIFE ISN’T SO FUNNY
The point is…we love to laugh.
However, when I got really sick with Late Stage Lyme Disease, we stopped laughing so much.
I didn’t want to show anyone else (including my kids) how scared I was at first, so I did what any other person would do in a situation like this: I became a standup comedian.
When my lower body became racked with pain, I started to develop a limp that worsened everyday. I had to walk with a cane, which was humiliating, so instead of having people feel sorry for me, I would swing it side-to-side singing, “Hello my baby, hello my darling, hello my ragtime gal!”
It was too scary, too real, and laughter made it not so scary.
When I moved from my cane to a walker, I would pick it up after a few steps and point it at my kids and their friends saying, “You young whippersnappers!” in my best old lady voice.
Once I got to the point that I could hardly stand to use a walker, I upgraded to a wheelchair.
The first time I got in I started crying hysterically. What was happening to me?
It started getting a lot more serious around the house. Any joke attempted by anyone at this point was NOT FUNNY. I was over it. However, when my husband gave up and stopped trying to make me laugh, I felt even more discouraged.
A few days later, I developed random tremors all over my body. These tremors would cause my body to start jerking – legs hopping up and down off the bed, my head whipping side to side with my fingers clenching and releasing.
Other times I would be sitting and start rocking back-and-forth quickly, my foot tapping double time on the floor. It was getting harder to find something to laugh about. I was exhausted and getting angrier every day.
RECOGNIZING THE BENEFITS OF LAUGHTER
After a few weeks of tears, tests and treatments, no one was joking around. I missed it.
Slowly the treatments began to heal my body and I returned to using my walker. One day, as my tremors swung my legs back and forth for every step I tried to take, I looked into my husband’s sad eyes and did my best Elvis impression, “Wella-wella-wella”.
And there it was for just a moment. Our smiles were back.
Some people felt like it was too much, or inappropriate to make jokes about what was going on, but for us, it was what helped us keep our sanity. It was the only way to ease the tension.
When one of my hands would uncontrollably strum up and down against my chest and I began to panic, my husband would come sit close to me and tell me how good I was getting at playing the banjo.
We had been living in constant stress. Laughter was our gateway back to normal.
My parents were living with us at the time to help out, and when I would start up with crazy tremors or twitching and find myself hyperventilating, they learned that I didn’t want another pill or an icepack, I needed Michael Scott.
I realized that what I craved wasn’t really another season of The Office or for my family to make jokes about my situation, but that I craved joy again. Joy gave us hope.
When we could laugh, we could feel happy again.
I wanted to scream and cry and throw things…and sometimes I did.
But I recognized the benefits of laughter in my life and made it a priority to dive into anything that promoted happiness. I found every uplifting show, song and book I could find. I made a reading list of books I wanted to read, and movies to watch.
Over the next year, I read books by Roald Dahl, Sophie Kinsella, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Bob Goff, and every self help book I could find. I began painting again and creating new music playlists. I introduced my kids to movies from my childhood like Anne of Green Gables, The Little Princess and The Secret Garden.
We are so fortunate to have that season behind us now. For the most part, I live a pretty normal life. While I still have to treat this disease, it’s no longer a daily worry. So many wonderful things have happened since then. I am running my own small business, my children are back in school since COVID, and we are taking family vacations when we can.
I sometimes look back on that time in my life and remember how desperate I was and how lost I felt. It seems unreal to be writing about it now.
I know that our faith and our bond with family got us through those hard times, but so did laughter.
5 BENEFITS OF ADDING LAUGHTER TO YOUR MARRIAGE
1. People who laugh together like each other more
There’s actually research on this! If you’ve ever shared a good joke with someone, you feel immediately connected to them.
2. You relate better to your spouse
You know when you just click with a new friend? Inside-jokes and having a similar styles of humor are ways to bond you and your spouse together in a way that no one else can understand.
3. You experience more positive emotions than negative
Just like the story I shared, laughter helps us focus on the good even in crappy situations. There was no reason for me to feel happy with what was happening to me, but laughter helped me stay positive.
4. Your relationship will last longer
It has been shown that deeper relationships, such as those that grow out of shared laughter, last longer than those who don’t feel connected emotionally to their partner.
5. The quality of your relationship will improve
It’s more fun to be part of a marriage where you make each other laugh! As long as you’re not laughing at each other, but with each other, you will continue to grow closer.
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