One of the more reliable signs that a marriage is working is if the two partners laugh together, frequently.
It's well known that laughter has a health benefit, as Norman Cousins wrote about based on personal experience in his groundbreaking book Anatomy of an Illness. He was given a death sentence by doctors and decided to laugh his way back to health. His book is about how that worked for him.
Laughter is a very rational way to accept the totally irrational aspects of life, including the tough times in a marriage. Expecting two people to agree all the time is the most irrational expectation you can have. People are prone to asking unanswerable questions and taking life far too seriously. Humor is a way of making everything ridiculous and in so doing we accept the unacceptable.
So laughter in relationships can break up the “stuckness” in the same way a lubricant frees up a rusty axle. Laughter allows you to relax and enjoy each other even though you may disagree.
So how do you accept the unacceptable? Humor is often the easiest way.
It allows you to put things in prospective and let go of rigidity. After the tensions are loosened you can see more clearly and be in harmony again instead of disharmony. Humor is a major component of all successful long-term relationships.
Laurie and Robb have been looking forward to taking their first vacation without their two young children for over a year. With her mother committed to babysitting, time off from Robb's job secured, and a week selected, the only unresolved part is where they'd go. He wants to lie on a tropical beach and play golf. She wants to do an ambitious walking tour in an exotic place.
The discussion has remained civil until now, when Robb, feeling unappreciated for the hours he puts in at work, blows up and accuses Laurie of being selfish and unconcerned about his needs. Instead of going tit for tat and throwing an accusation back at him, Laurie chuckles and pauses. Then she looks Robb in the eye and says, “How about we go to Maui. I whip you in a round of golf on day one, and you climb Mount Kiluea with me on day two.”
The use of humor (Laurie doesn't play golf) and the suggestion of compromise immediately changed the temperature between them and allowed them to arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution.