Written by The Relate Institute
When my husband and I were engaged my mother hosted an engagement reception for us. People my parents had known for years showed up, ate food, wished us well, and left, in the way most receptions happen. On a table by the door were slips of paper for every guest to put a piece of marital advice for us and place it in a jar. Most of the advice written out were things I have heard my whole life:
“Don’t go to bed angry.”
“Communicate with each other.”
“Be physically affectionate.”
“Admit when you’re wrong.”
One piece of advice I wish had been written out was “laugh together every day.”
The physical benefits of laughter are well known – laughter can improve health, and lengthen life expectancy in terminally ill patients – but how does laughter aid relationships?
Neuroscientist Robert Provine studied just that, and published his findings in his book Laughter: A Scientific Investigation.
What he found was that, beyond just diffusing tense situations and reducing anger and anxiety, laughter establishes (or restores) a positive emotional connection between two people. In marriage it can pave the path to intimacy.
“Laughter is not primarily about humor,” says Provine, “but about social relationships.”
In fact, Provine believes that the health benefits of laughter are simply a consequence of its primary result: building relationships. When social support is stronger, health is improved, and therefore laughter provides a stepping stone to health through its social benefits.
Some of his other findings include:
Unfortunately, Povine also found that couples tend to do most of their laughing together through TV and movies, which encourages very little social connection. This means that couples don’t recognize how little laughter is within their marriage or how much they are missing out.
So how can you start laughing more in your marriage? Consider these suggestions.
While these things won’t make marital problems go away, they can set the stage for tackling them together and building intimacy and affection together.
For more marriage tips and ideas take the RELATE assessment today.
Photo Credit: Jason Corey Photography
“Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. Millions of tiny moments that create your love story.”
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