The Benefits of Laughter in Your Marriage

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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Laughter benefits

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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7 Pieces of Advice for Newlyweds (That I Wish I’d Known Before Getting Married)

Being engaged is a whole lot different than actually being married. Here are 7 pieces of advice for newlyweds that I wish someone had told me!

MARRIAGE ISN’T WHAT YOU SEE IN THE MOVIES

There are pretty much two types of husbands when it comes to marriages on TV:

  1. The cheating spouse
  2. The stupid spouse

Seriously. Think about it. Why is it that every husband on TV can’t control their sexual urges or is a doofus married to an obnoxious, eye-rolling wife?

It’s so rare that we actually see a healthy relationship on TV. And if most marriages are portrayed as a place where sex goes to die, or that being in love means complete infatuation, then you don’t have a realistic view of what it’s supposed to be either.

So where are the real marriages, the ones that actually make it? The ones where the honeymoon phase has worn off, but the couple genuinely still loves and enjoys one another?

On the flip side, we also don’t need any more fairy-tale relationships where everyone lives happily ever-after. We all could use a few more examples of real-life relationships that have successfully weathered the storm.

There are so many views on what a good marriage should look like, but for this post, I want to talk about Christian marriages in general. My husband and I decided to skip pre-marital counseling, and I wish we hadn’t. While we have figured a few things out over our 20 years together, that time of mentorship could have saved us a few sleepless nights…

MY 7 PIECES OF ADVICE FOR NEWLYWEDS

If you are a newly-wed or engaged to be married, I highly suggest that you seek out pre-marital counseling before you tie the knot. There’s always room for growth whether you’ve been together 10 days or 10 years, and taking this first step will only help you along the way! The Bible is filled with helpful advice on how to love one another in a way that will sustain you for a lifetime, and a mentor who can guide you through real-life application can be such a blessing, especially before you get to the hard stuff in life!

With that being said, there are a few things that I wish I could go back and tell myself and my husband when we were engaged. I hope these tips are helpful for you (even if you’re past the newly wed stage!).

1. HONEYMOON BLUES ARE A THING

We had a beautiful wedding outside at an old manor in Virginia, and after a disastrous honeymoon, returned home to our newly-rented, roach-infested home in Texas. After all of those blissful years of dating and wedding planning, our fairy tale had officially ended.

My family was an expensive plane ride away, and our friends had graduated and moved out. I was lonely and a little panicky about the choice I had made. The parties were over, the friends were gone, and adulthood had officially kicked in. I had to get a real job and pay bills now!

After a few weeks of moping around, my poor husband asked if I was okay. He even asked if I had regretted marrying him. Of course I hadn’t, I told him, but I was confused. I felt homesick for the first time in my life. Reality of married living had set in, and it seemed our infatuation stage was over. When I confided that I felt sad most days instead of happy to a few of my other married girlfriends over the phone, what they said surprised me.

“I went through that too,” they said. “Getting married is a big change and there’s so much pressure on what it’s supposed to look like.”

Why had no one ever told me this?

Every romantic movie I’d seen ended when the two people got married. Kiss and zoom out! Happily ever after!

I began to realize, that marriage isn’t where the hard work ends, it’s where it begins! So what can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

Take all of those unrealistic expectations and confront what’s true. This is simply another transition in your life. Most of the transitions in your life have been hard. Change is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be bad. For me, hearing that I wasn’t crazy, that these feelings of insecurity were normal, was all I needed to get out of my funk.

Which leads me into tip #2:

2. LOSING THAT LOVING FEELING DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE NOT IN LOVE

Infatuation is just that. It’s not love, it’s obsession. We’ve all been there, and it’s wonderful! To wear rose-colored glasses and think everything they do is adorable and hilarious. To think that they couldn’t be anymore perfect for you…but time goes on. And those little quirks start to become major irritations.

However, when the passion dies, that doesn’t mean your marriage is over. And it doesn’t mean it won’t return.

Sometimes it means you have to work through a few things to get it back, or give it time to experience that marriage truly is a rollercoaster. So is any relationship worth pursuing!

I love my husband, and I can truly say (ignore the cliche) that I am more in love with him now that I ever was before. That’s because our love is much more experienced and deeply emotional because of the things we’ve been through. We’ve gone through parenting, the dynamics of in-laws, four moves and serious illnesses. We’ve acknowledged our flaws and confessed them to each other, but mostly, we’ve committed to this relationship for the long haul.

When you are struggling, ask God to remind you why you fell in love with your husband in the first place. He will always give you something to lean on.

3. SPEND YOUR MONEY ON MEMORIES, DON’T SAVE FOR A RAINY DAY

Before we had kids, we never went anywhere. We always felt like we didn’t have enough money to do anything. After we had kids, we really didn’t have enough money to do anything, but we needed the break and found ourselves figuring out ways to travel even on our limited budget. Think of how much nicer it would have been if we’d realized this sooner!

We could have traveled without having to worry about car seats, strollers, naptime, and moody children! While we have had many successful vacations with our kids, we missed out on a big opportunity to see things without taking care of little ones.

I highly suggest you take the trips now (and later too!) instead of waiting for the perfect timing. FYI: there is no perfect timing!

4. FIND YOURSELF—GET HOBBIES & MAKE FRIENDS OUTSIDE YOUR CIRCLE

Are you only doing the things that he wants to do? Or are you only doing fun things when he’s around? Don’t fall into the pit of becoming “the wife”, you are your own person too! That’s what he loves about you!

What hobbies have you done in the past? Get back into them, make friends with others that share those same passions. You will grow in confidence (which is very attractive) when you have your own things to pursue!

5. BELIEVE THE BEST ABOUT HIM—AND YOU ARE NOT HIS HOLY SPIRIT

Your husband is not perfect. And neither are you . So don’t forget to give him some grace. When he leaves a mess behind, or forgets to do something he promised, believe the best. Believe that he wasn’t out to hurt you, but was simply distracted.

When you feel like he’s not helping out, believe the best. Maybe he just needs you to communicate what you need instead of thinking he doesn’t care. You don’t need to nag or correct him constantly. Instead, pray for him, and learn to work together in healthy ways.

6. SCHEDULE VACATIONS AND DATE REGULARLY

Now that the “chase” is over…it really isn’t .

I made the mistake of waiting for him to take me to nice places or surprise me with a vacation. Not intentionally, but looking back, I guess that’s what I expected of him. How could he have read my mind?

While planning dates isn’t his string suit, it’s mine, and I didn’t realize how bad we needed it until we got into a funk with each other. Many times, we were in a rut simply because we hadn’t done anything fun together in awhile. We were going to work, fixing stuff in the house, paying bills, visiting family, while not really allowing ourselves time to reconnect.

When we have weekends at the house, it tends to be a big list of to-dos. This needs cleaning, we need to update that

The act of leaving the house helps you gain perspective. It’s just you and your spouse. You remember you still like each other, and the money doesn’t seem as stressful when you realize it’s well-spent.

If you’re feeling at odds with your spouse, chances are, you need to get away together, even if it’s just for a night. I suggest going on at least 1-2 dates a month and planning a night away once a season. It could be as a simple as a hotel in a nearby city, or planning a week-long trip to another state. Either way, get it on the calendar!

7. IT’S OKAY TO DO THINGS BY YOURSELF—GIVE EACH OTHER SPACE

My husband loves to play music. Before we had kids, he would invite a few buddies over to “jam”. For me, it was a disruption to my quiet evening and I couldn’t wait until the last person left. I could be on the other side of the house and hear their session like it was right next to me.

One night, I decided to go to the movies. By myself.

I ordered a hotdog, nachos and sour patch kids and sat in the theater watching a movie I wanted to see but knew he wouldn’t be interested in. I had the space to do whatever I wanted in that moment, and it made me realize that I hadn’t been fair to him sitting there sulking until band practice was over. He hadn’t been holding me back from doing what I wanted, that was on me.

Give your spouse space to do the things he wants to do, and let him enjoy them—guilt-free, and take the opportunity to do your own thing, like going out with girlfriends to eat or getting a stomachache like I did on nachos and sour patch kids.

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14 Pieces of Advice from my 14 Years in a Christian Marriage

Learn healthier ways to deal with marriage problems with these 14 pieces of advice for Christian marriages.

LOVE & MARRIAGE

In the beginning, you dated each other–you were kind, you hid your flaws, you surprised each other, you wrote sweet notes of encouragement and love. What happened?

You got comfortable. You started acting like the real you, and they saw you, flaws and all. But that’s what you wanted. And you still want.

However with REAL-NESS, comes REAL MESS. So if you want your marriage to work, you have to learn ways to keep the same problems from reoccurring, or at least learn healthier ways to deal with them.

I’ve made a few of my own messes in our marriage, such as starting an argument in bed after my husband’s fallen asleep and shoving too many potato skins down the garbage.

I’ve learned a few things along the way, and most not so easily. Big changes in our marriage came from big events–his mom’s cancer, a friend’s divorce, my own illness and disabilities, struggling in parenting and poor personal choices.

But each time we chose to eventually fight together against the hard things instead of against one another. We’ve learned to invest in our marriage by attending marriage conferences at church, finding mentors, support from friends in healthy marriages and praying for one another.

We aren’t doing marriage perfect–but we are doing it the best we can–committed to thriving, not simply surviving.

In 2019, we celebrated our 14th anniversary and our relationship looks a whole lot different than when we first met. We’ve carried each other through our absolute worst and celebrated at our best.

Funny husband and wife picture

14 PIECES OF ADVICE FOR A CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

1. Laugh Together

Our honeymoon did not go as planned. We thought it would be hilarious to go to this cliche resort in the Poconos to save money. Turns out, it was a huge disappointment. In addition to me getting sick from the exhaustion of planning a wedding, our dog-sitter lost our dog. When all was said and done, we needed a vacation from our vacation.

The reason we fell in love in the first place was because we had fun and made each other laugh. I felt safe and comfortable because it didn’t feel like work, it felt like fun. We did the best we could to make the most of a crappy honeymoon. Luckily, were able to have a redo the next year with a cute cabin in the woods near our home.

Laughter has brought us through many hardships, diffusing the tension in moments of agitation. It’s a way to see positivity in a negative situation. We are a team, not each other’s enemy.

One year of marriage photo

2. Forgive Easily

I used to pick every battle because when you get married everyone gives you the “don’t go to bed angry” verse. Instead of interpreting as, “give full vent to all of your emotions at bedtime”, I learned to use it as a self-check. Nighttime anger may be diffused by something as simple as getting some sleep or having a good breakfast. If it still bothers you in the morning, pick a calm time to address it with your spouse. Once I used this tactic, 9 times out of 10 I was relieved I hadn’t made a big deal out of nothing the night before.

3. Date Each Other

Continuing to go on dates is so important especially once you have children. Coming together to refocus on each other and gain perspective in your parenting by getting a sitter and taking a breather will make you a happier, healthier couple. And in turn, better parents. We didn’t have much family nearby so we traded babysitting with friends and used local parents night out events.

4. Put Your Marriage Before the Kids

Before you had kids you were a team—continue to work together and stay on the same team. If you are constantly choosing between what the kids want and what your spouse wants, the family will crumble. Kids test their boundaries, that’s what helps them learn. Train them to understand that you and your spouse support each other. Have your disagreements out of earshot of your children. Don’t disrespect your spouse by brushing off their opinion in front of the kids. (I’m talking to myself here!) Let your spouse make their own parenting decisions without feeling the need to correct constantly. Your way is not the only right way to do things. Let your spouse help!

5. Get Away For The Night

In addition to making a habit of going on dates, plan an overnight trip once or twice a year. Even just booking a hotel in a nearby city square and walking around to look at shops, go to dinner or a movie will do wonders for your marriage. Sleep in, get room service, have sex. Seriously, make time for your spouse and try not to talk about the kids until you get home!

Five years of marriage photo

6. Surprise Each Other

One of my favorite things about my husband is that he loves to surprise me (not always fun being snuck up on, but more of the “will you marry me?” kind of surprises). This year, my family had an early birthday party for me. Our babysitter came over so my husband and I could get a fancy dinner and go to a movie. On my actual birthday, we still celebrated with cards and a picnic dinner in the living room.

7. Encourage Each Other

This is so important to do so make it a habit–set an alarm once a week to leave a sticky note, send a text or write on the bathroom mirror. Tell them why you’re proud of them, why you love them or what you noticed was thoughtful that week. A little can go a long way. This is an easy way for me to feel loved and noticed.

8. Pray For Each Other

Praying has been my go to when I’m frustrated with my husband. It calms my mind and focuses me on my own tone and may even give me some perspective on his own situation and reactions.

9. Support Each Other

I am constantly getting excited about new ideas or ventures and my husband has never told me I was foolish for attempting something new. I may not make a penny back on a new idea, but he supports me and my passions even if he is the breadwinner. So when he started restoring vintage motorcycles, my fears crept in, not about money, but about safety. But after all these years of letting me pursue my dreams, who was I to discourage his?

I voiced my concerns but said I wouldn’t tell him no. He was understanding and respectful but explained he needed something new in his life–I had just been through hell and back with my disease and he didn’t want to live in fear. He wanted to go for the things we always wanted to try. This argument was mine as well when I asked for us to start spending more money toward family vacations. In having a conversation rather than a fight, we were able to both feel heard and respected and able to go after our goals.

10. Serve Each Other

This can be as simple as making dinner each night so that your spouse can take a nap after work. It can be bringing him coffee while he’s getting ready in the morning or filling up his car with gas after you use it. It can be scheduling date nights and babysitters and sending a text: We’re going out, Thursday night work? Open the door for her, give him the better seat, do little things to put their needs before your own to show that you still love them.

Ten years of marriage photo

11. Prioritize Your Love Life

One thing that helped me understand best how my husband and I are wired differently was to figure out our love languages. I discovered that I need Words of Affirmation, while he feels most loved through Acts of Service. I didn’t understand the big deal about the sink being cleaned out or my clothes folded up, while he didn’t understand my need to be encouraged. It’s not a prideful thing, it’s about feeling loved and appreciated.

He wants the same, but he doesn’t hear it as easily through my words, he hears it through helping pay the bills and setting up vacation plans. As you grow, you may change in what areas you need to focus on the most, and chances are there are 2-3 areas that speak to you. Take the quiz or read it out loud to your husband if you need to. Learn about each other!

Advice for married couple

12. Get Your Own Hobbies

The first year or two of our marriage, I felt like I was constantly waiting on my husband to finish up with his hobbies so we could hang out. This was a bad plan. He plays a million instruments, loves being outdoors, and in general, never sits still.

As soon as I started picking back up old hobbies from high school like painting and sewing, he started interrupting me to see if I wanted to hang out more.

13. Give Each Other Freedom

One thing we’ve learned is to say yes as much as possible when we need our space. This can be because there’s something we’re excited about doing on our own (like shopping without the kids) or everyone’s driving us crazy. My favorite thing to do is writing at a coffee shop or browsing a book store. For my husband, it’s a day to go hunting or getting outside. Find your niche, and respect each other’s need for a breather every once in awhile. Try not to set time limits on the other person.

14. Listen To Each Other

While there may be a lot you need to get off your chest, your spouse also wants to know that they are being heard as well. No one wants to feel like the person is waiting to interject their point. Sometimes venting is just venting, needing an outlet to be listened to, not wanting a counselor for a solution. So make sure you’re available to listen. Don’t forget to apologize if you start taking over the conversation with your opinion (Sorry, babe!)

It isn’t through our strength that we are going strong all these years later–it’s our shared focus on Jesus to guide us and strengthen us one day at a time, without whom I could have never changed for the better.

14 years of marriage family photo

PRINT THIS FREE CHEAT SHEET FOR 14 TIPS FOR A CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

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