by Leslie De Morais
Opinions differ regarding what a marriage needs to either become strong or stay strong. The following is from a list I compiled of ten essential characteristics couples need to build a strong and lasting marriage.
Item #3: Humor
Being able to laugh, with one another, at each other, or at your circumstances, could just possibly be one of the best ways to weather tough times. It can also help a marriage to last. Humor, lightheartedness and having fun are some of God’s best gifts for any relationship. They give way to happiness, appreciation and serenity, even if only momentarily. These times of spontaneous smiles, giggles, chuckles or raucous laughter relieve stress and ease tension. They bring levity and a sense of contentment to a marriage.
The comedian Milton Burle once said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”
Not only is it an instantaneous vacation, it’s free and lasts as long as you make it last.
There is great assurance in a relationship when you know your partner has the ability and discernment to use humor in a proper manner, time and place.
When I first met Alcides, one of his characteristics I found myself drawn to was his sense of humor. It was so diverse! He could imitate a variety of accents or individuals. He could make witty commentaries about current events or recite a repertoire of his father’s vintage jokes on command, one right after another. He could even make light of the mistakes he made in English (since it is his second language). He was so funny. Or, was I simply in love? Being able to laugh at your husband’s sense of humor is a good gauge to the level of closeness in your relationship.
There are two things that are almost impossible for a wife to do if there’s a wedge between her and her husband: have sex with him or laugh at his jokes.
What do the two have in common? Laughter, inside jokes, and goofiness, they are all a form of intimacy. They are the product of months, years, decades together. They communicate, “I know you. I know how you think, I know what you’re about to say. I know you and I love you.” Humor allows us to relax a little and let down our guard, even when life is not perfect. Our time together just seems more enjoyable when we’re able to laugh, no matter what else is going on.
When was the last time you and your husband had a good laugh? Not at externally sourced humor from a comedian or TV show, but a laugh at something just between the two of you. Perhaps a private joke. Maybe about something that always made you laugh in the past. If it’s been a while, there may be an impediment to your closeness. It could be stress or an unresolved issue. It could be you just haven’t made the time to stop and simply spend time together.
What robs us of the good fun we could be having with our spouse?
We all know that life happens. Constant bliss is what we have to look forward to when we’re in heaven. On this earth, we may face troubles and trials of many kinds, such as: worry, unemployment, debt, disappointment, illness, loss, etc.
Since none of us are immuned to the innumerous predicaments life can throw our way, the best course of action is to learn how to take life in stride and not let it steal our joy.
Insurance against theft
Having a spiritual perspective is what one Bible character chose to do. The Apostle Paul made a decision to keep his eye on the prize (heaven, being united with Christ and coming into God’s presence) instead of allowing the weight of life’s problems to drag him down. And he had some fairly hefty problems!
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? – 2 Corinthians 11:21b-29 (NIV)
Floggings, beatings, attacked with stones, shipwrecked, lost at sea, in danger, without sleep, without food and naked. That’s what Paul had to contend with. Some of us might not make it through just one of the things on his list. In view of that collection of problems, read what Paul writes here:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
“Rejoice in the Lord always? How? Have you seen my bills?” you might say. “Don’t be anxious about anything? Do you know what kind of pressure I’m facing at work?” you might ask. Paul could possibly respond by saying, “No, I can’t imagine what you’re going through. Can you imagine being flogged? Or stoned? Or beaten?”
With everything he went through, how could he actually rejoice? How could he be happy? And yes, I’ll stretch the comparison just a bit by asking how could he perhaps even laugh at his circumstances?
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:10-13 (NIV)
Paul’s focus was on Christ and the strength he provides. Unlike Paul, many times, our suffering is due to our own unrighteousness. It may be a direct result of not obeying God’s Word in the first place. Nevertheless, Paul reveals to us the secret of maintaining joy and happiness in the worst moments of life: get your strength from Jesus.
Weathering Life’s Storms with Humor
Ron and Linda Brumley are exemplary disciples of Christ in a variety of ways, but one of the aspects I most admire about them is the sense of humor they both have. Although they are getting on in years, it is that lighthearted approach and quick wit that preserves a remarkable youthfulness about them.
Back in the ’80s, Ron was in the hospital for a biopsy on a tumor in his chest that turned out to be malignant. His room was overflowing with friends and family who had come to visit. Linda, of course, was by his bedside. Ron began to speak and the room fell silent.
“Linda,” he said, “years ago, you were there when the doctor gave us the bad news about our son possibly having juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.” Remembering the scare they had been through, Linda nodded, receiving sympathetic looks from family.
“Linda,” Ron continued, “you were there that year when our daughter was in and out of the hospital battling pneumonia.” Linda nodded again, recalling that challenging time they faced together. The onlookers murmured supportively.
“And Linda,” Ron went on, “you were there every time we went through tough times financially.” Again, Linda nodded as the crowd of friends pressed in closer trying to hear every word.
“Linda,” Ron affirmed with conviction, “you’re bad luck!”
After a split second of confusion mixed with disbelief, the room erupted in boisterous laughter. Linda, however, saw that punch line coming from a mile away.
Sometimes, being a good wife is being a good straight man for your husband, too.
Ron told Linda his first joke over 50 years ago and they are still able to laugh together.
As with any check list, this one may show your strengths and weaknesses, what’s already present and what’s missing from your relationship. A check list reveals where you’re at and where you need to go. The good news is you can celebrate what’s going well and make a plan to fortify what’s lacking in your marriage. With reliance on God and some attention to the matter, you’ll soon be checking all the boxes!