Written By: Ashley Hébert
“Laughter is the best medicine.”
I’ve heard this quote a hundred times, as I’m sure you have, as well. As cliche as it is, it’s a pretty tough statement to argue. Never have I heard someone in my life say that they feel worse after they laugh.
From a psychological standpoint, laughing is wonderful for our bodies. An uncontrollable laugh with others releases endorphins, “the feel good chemicals”, in our brains. From this natural release, the bonds we have with the people we’re socializing with grow stronger. Our bodies contagiously relax and we feel more connected with the people we’re cracking up with. And if it could get better, we’re burning calories while doing it. Okay, so maybe laughter really is the best medicine?
I love how God foresaw the need for laughter and the emotion of joy when he designed the human soul. Through His powerful, all-knowing view, He knew that this fallen world and its burdens would weigh down the human heart. Like a clump of seaweed and muck weighing down the end of a fishing line and sinking the bobber, life’s tragedies and stresses have the same effect on our human hearts. Overwhelmed and heavy, we need reprieve.
God knew what we would need in these tough times and gifted us with something that uplifts our hearts and draws us closer to one another. He embedded the medicine of laughter inside of our design; a natural remedy we can access freely. He knew before anyone else the power of laughter. Proverbs 17:12 states, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” He knows and loves us so well… to ingrain in us access to what our hearts desperately need.
Healthy marriages know the power of laughter and take their healthy doses of it daily. We all know that marriage has its own types of slimy seaweed that can tug us down, one of them being fights with your spouse. Research has shown us that marital conflict itself is not detrimental to a marriage; it’s actually healthy because it shows that you feel safe and accepted enough in your relationship to express your own views and feelings. Fighting is only toxic if the way you argue is harmful, leaving your partner feeling unappreciated and disrespected.
When arguments begin to escalate, couples have a decision to make: are they going to compete in turning the intensity notch higher and higher, or will one of them be wise enough to use a “repair attempt”? A repair attempt can be defined as an action that prevents the argument from escalating out of control and breaks the tension building up between the couple. Oftentimes, repair attempts are silly and involve (you guessed it), laughter. Examples can be in the heat of argument, a husband and wife playfully sticking their tongues out at each other, a wife making a silly face, or a husband saying something funny that can’t help but bring laughter alive in both of them.
John Gottman, well-renowned marriage researcher and theorist, claims, “Repair attempts are a secret weapon of emotionally intelligent couples- even though many of these couples aren’t aware that they are employing something so powerful.” Fostering laughter when conflicts escalate allows a couple to take a break from a touchy topic and cool down to discuss later. Sometimes it provides an opportunity for a couple to laugh at how ridiculous and silly what they’re fight over is, in reality. Most importantly, it turns a situation where typically a couple would be tempted to pull away and detach from one another into a time where they actually turn towards each other and enjoy the laughter and connection they can share, in even the most frustrating moments.
God’s sense of humor is saving marriages in a powerful way.
- When you feel tension rising in an argument with your spouse, attempt repairing it with a lighthearted action
- Carve out time for you and your spouse to go have fun and laugh together!
Ashley Hébert is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern with The Center for Marriage and Family Enrichment in Lakeland, Florida.