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A Better You
by Jo Ann Fore

What's So Funny?
Positive Use of Humor in Relationships

There it was again. That smirk – the crooked grin – and that playful look in his eyes. Can he not be serious just one time; this is a big deal to me! What is so funny?

“Honey,” he ventured, “It’s just that you are so cute when you’re upset like that.”

My defenses lowered. I couldn’t help it. Was it really that big of a deal after all?

My husband, Matt, thinks life is funny. I should’ve expected it. He’s a professional. A professional funny man that is: He’s an entertainer who performs comedy magic. ( It’s really difficult for him not to see life as comical and amusing. But I have grown to appreciate his sense of humor as it has many times diffused an otherwise tense situation.


Matt has taught me that laughter is healthy for a relationship. A sense of humor and appreciating it with one another is an expression of a fun, intelligent personality.

“Humor brings happiness into any relationship as long as it is used correctly,” shared Matt. “Enjoying a sense of humor unites a couple and gives them something to relish together.”

The Benefits of Laughter
Here’s an indication my husband is having a good time with a funny life: He is much healthier than I am. A positive attitude, and humor, in the midst of a nurturing relationship contributes directly to good health. Studies have shown that laughter reduces stress and promotes relaxation.

Helpguide®, a great website for information on healthy lifestyles, cites several studies on how humor and laughter improve our mental and emotional health. They show us how:

» Laughter lowers our blood pressure
» Laughter decreases stress
» Laughter protects the heart
» Laughter gives our bodies a good workout

Details of how humor improves our brain function and relieves stress can be found here.

Levity can also be useful between couples to nurture an intimate bond. At times, you share certain things that are funny, light-hearted, and are understood only by the two of you – inside jokes. Matt loves to utilize these in mixed company. He says something that appears completely normal and then I burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Then, everyone thinks I’m the crazy one. He loves it.

A Time to Laugh
“Humor in a relationship doesn’t mean that both individuals have to be funny,” Matt stressed. “One could have a dry sense of humor that always makes the other one smile.”

Humor can be used as a method of communication. It says:

» I care about you
» I love you
» I forgive you
» Will you forgive me

But too much humor, or humor used at the wrong time, can be counterproductive.

Humor should never be used negatively. Your mate doesn’t want to feel as if you are laughing at him or her. Therefore, it should never be used as a weapon to put down or humiliate the other one at any time, and especially not in front of others. Comments that point out the faults of others – disguised as jokes – are not funny. They damage your relationship. While facetious humor can be fun, if done playfully and without accusation, insulting sarcasm damages.

For example, your mate returned home from the dentist office, and you ask, “Did you have fun?” Your teasing remark will most likely be met with facetious humor, “Oh, it was great. I can’t wait until I get to go next time.”

But if your mate is out of work, has little education or formal training, and is feeling pretty low about the situation – it’s not a good time to say, “Honey, maybe you could be a Doctor. That would solve all of our problems!” Ouch.

Yet, even in the greatest heartache, there’s room for laughter if used correctly. Humor can promote unity in a difficult situation. It can be used to position two people on the same side of the fence, rather than opposing one another. Humor can be utilized to bring the two of you together to face a despondent situation by bringing cheer into it.

Learn to laugh – it’s healthy for you! It does a heart good, like medicine.

Jo Ann Fore welcomes your comments about this article or suggestions for material you would like to see in future articles. Email her at: A Better You is published every Saturday.


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