By Karen Aurit, LAMFT
Could the secret to navigating holiday stress and even the success of your marriage depend on making your spouse laugh?
Research shows that using comedy to emotionally calm one’s spouse during marital conflict can lead to stronger and longer-lasting marriages. However, cracking jokes to avoid addressing marital problems leads to an increased likelihood of divorce.
A repair attempt is “any statement or action—silly or otherwise—that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.” It is your attempt to make up—to heal the relationship following conflict.
Gottman’s groundbreaking research shows “the success or failure of a couple’s repair attempts is one of the primary factors in whether [a] marriage is likely to flourish or flounder.”
Examples of repair attempts are; making a genuine apology, using a “code word” or phrase that signals you want to hit the reset button, or using humor to lighten the mood—specifically a shared sense of “funny” that bonds your relationship together.
Making a joke that only you find funny, and may be perceived as defensive or sarcastic, will likely make matters worse. However, an “inside joke” that you both find funny can be the most powerful and efficient way to get back on track.
Whether you choose to make a silly face, do a goofy dance or break out into song, the key is to use humor that will relieve your partner’s stress. If holiday stress is impacting your relationship, try using shared humor to keep your marriage on the right track. Humor is an important piece of long-lasting relationships and, when used correctly, will help you and your spouse to have a peaceful and relaxed happy holiday.
Healthy Love Habits is Raising Arizona Kids’s monthly relationship column for learning simple habits to create the healthy and loving connection you desire and deserve.
Karen Aurit, LAMFT, is Director and Co-Founder of The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation in Scottsdale, Arizona. Karen is a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in mindfulness theory. She is also an Adjunct Professor at The Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law and at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law. Karen is married to Michael Aurit, and they live in Phoenix, Arizona, with their three and five-year-old daughters. Karen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more, visit auritmediation.com