“If you have no tragedy, you have no comedy. Crying and laughing are the same emotion. If you laugh too hard, you cry; and vice versa.” Sid Caesar
I’ve made a study of couples and longevity. When the local evening news or the Today show interviews those couples having golden anniversaries or birthdays in their 90’s, I pay attention to what they say. One thing that the majority of these seniors have in common is humor and laughter.
It certainly makes sense to me. If you and your partner can laugh at the same things, find humor in difficult situations and laugh at yourselves, you will be happier. A sense of humor is an attribute that can help you and your partner to weather the storms and challenges in life. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be serious, but if you can learn to laugh and find humor in the most challenging moments of your lives, you have a much better chance of having a successful relationship.
Comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same relationship coin. You really can’t have one without the other or you will either be living in a superficial state of absurdity or simply exist in the depths of despair. It behooves you to cultivate a sense of humor and to be able to lighten up when things get tough (which they will, such is life).
When I interview couples during our initial assessment for counseling I sometimes ask what attracted one partner to the other. The answer is often that he/she made me laugh, made me smile. Somehow along the way the couple has lost that ability to make each other laugh. Things got serious, they got hard and it seemed like every single thing was negative and problematic. Does this sound familiar to you? If it does, then I want you to try something:
I have a challenge for couples who have forgotten what it feels like to laugh and smile together. Starting today, I want each of you to think back to when you first fell in love with your partner. What was the thing that you and your partner laughed about the most? Did you go to comedy shows, or watch funny movies. Maybe you were into people watching and laughing about crazy things that happened.
Talk to your partner about those times. Bring up those things that made you laugh and made you smile. Go out and see a comedy show or a funny movie. Tell a dumb joke, laugh at life. Try this for a week and see if you and your partner together and individually don’t feel happier, lighter, smile more, and feel closer to one another.
When you and your partner get triggered, have an argument or a discussion that begins to escalate; stop. Look at the subject or scenario a different way and try to find the humor in the situation. Don’t make light or make fun of your partner or discount how they are feeling, but do remind them that if you stand back and look at the situation, you can find the humor in it. Remind each other that life is so absurd and it all depends on how you look at it. It can be dark and disturbing, or light and amusing. You choose. Wouldn’t you rather see the lighter side? I know I would.