Here we go, another Valentine’s Day is on the way. Are you ready? Do you have the perfect gift and the romantic dinner planned? Have you hand written that beautifully worded card? Maybe, maybe not? That’s ok. I’m going to let you in on a secret – it’s not the plans, the gift or the card that keeps a relationship going strong, it’s the laughter. That’s right, the laughter.
There have been numerous studies done on why we laugh and how laughing is good for us, but did you know that laughter is also key in deepening the couple bond and relieving stress in romantic relationships?
It’s true. In the book Laughter: a scientific investigation by neuroscientist Robert Provine, studies found that couples who shared laughter more often were more likely to have a positive prognosis than couples with unreciprocated laughter. Meaning that couples who laugh together are more likely to decrease the effect of stressors in their relationship and ultimately feel happier. Interestingly enough, Dr. Provine also found that the female partner’s laughter is “the critical positive index of a healthy relationship.” So in a male-female relationship, the more a female laughs, the better she will probably feel and this tends to increase marital satisfaction over all. But let’s not put it all on the ladies. Dr. Laura Krutz from the University of North Carolina, found that the male laugh is more contagious and when men laugh they are 1.73 times more likely to make their partner laugh too.
So what happens when we laugh? Studies have shown that laughter itself helps increase endorphins and lowers stress hormones, making you feel good. This could be why we tell funny stories at funerals or have fits of laughter at high stress moments. When we are able to laugh after or during a disagreement or make light of a situation this is called down-regulating, meaning changing the body from high arousal to low arousal, in essence de-stressing.
When our partner is able to help us down-regulate (decrease our overall arousal) from a bad day with laughter, they’re not only making us feel better (by increasing those endorphins), but they’re also strengthening the couple bond. In a study of 77 participants at the University of North Carolina Dr. Kurtz found that “Participants who laughed more with their partners during a recorded conversation in the lab tended to also report feeling closer to and more supported by their partners.”
Which brings us to the question at hand – how can you give the gift of laughter? Well here are a few pointers:
Explore what you both find funny.
This could mean watching a stand up comedy routine together, sharing a funny story from the day or simply asking the question “what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen?”
What’s better than an inside joke between two people? By sharing experiences with your partner, like reading the same articles, sharing funny videos, or simply being out in the world together, you’re sure to have an opportunity for an inside joke.
It’s hard to increase laughter when you’re feeling uptight. Take a second to do a self evaluation of how you’re feeling. Have you been a little too serious lately? A little stressed or feeling down? Awareness of your own mood can help you let go of that mood and open you up for more positive experiences.
When in doubt, tickle.
Tickling is a sure fire way to make someone you love laugh. It can be playful and fun! Of course there are rules to tickling, like respecting other’s personal boundaries, stopping when they say so and not tickling too hard.
With that I’ll leave you with a quote, Happy Valentine’s Day readers!
Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. –Victor Borge
Provine, R. R. (2000). Laughter: a scientific investigation. New York: Viking
Tuesday Tip: Make Yourself Guffaw. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/tuesday_tip_guffaw
The Couples Who Laugh Together Stay Together. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://time.com/4010484/couple-laughing-study/