“Laughter is as good medicine.” That’s what the Bible says, and it’s true. Well, at least, it’ssupposed to be.
The problem that can creep into marriage relationships as time goes by is that our laughter begins to be directed AT our spouses, instead of us laughing WITH our spouses. If this happens, the “medicine” of laughter becomes bitter, and that which one person thinks is funny is actually harmful and hurtful to another.
The Bible says, in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
So, here’s the question I’d like to ask you: Is your humor hurtful or helpful? Does your sense of humor make your spouse feel better (as good medicine), or does it actually tear them down and make them feel worse?
Good humor stimulates wit and laughter, and it actually creates closeness and intimacy between people, while hurtful humor creates pain and emotional distance.
Hurtful humor is when you intentionally or unintentionally inflict pain, and then hide behind a phrase like, “I was just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?”
Humor that’s based on ridicule is using a destructive version of joy on your relationship. True joy comes when we vow to laugh with each other, not at each other. Personal shortcomings and areas of tenderness between two people, are not the material for jokes or appropriate sources of humor.
Proverbs 26:18-19 says this: “Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows, is a man who deceives his neighbor (or spouse) and says, ‘I was only joking!'”
We need to be careful not to shoot deadly arrows at our spouses, trying to disguise it as “joking.” If your spouse doesn’t perceive your humor as being funny, then it’s deadly and hurtful to your relationship. You’ll find that your spouse isn’t laughing, and God isn’t either.
We have to be on guard with our words and make sure that they are edifying and not destructive. But it’s not enough to just keep your guard up against bad humor. As married couples, we need to also be working to find ways to inject good humor and fun into our daily lives.
I say “inject” because it doesn’t always come naturally. In fact, if we’re not careful, life will drain the humor right out of our marriages.
We need to look for things to laugh about together and intentionally work to bring laughter into our homes.
Here are a couple of suggestions for injecting laughter into your daily life:
• At dinner time make it a habit for everyone in your family to share a funny story from their day. Let everyone know about this ahead of time so that they can be looking for comedy in their daily activities. It’s amazing how much humor you can find in life when you go looking for it.
• For your little kids, between four and ten years old, have a daily joke contest. Get some kind of cheap prize (like a candy bar or baseball cards) and give it to the child whose joke mom and dad like the most. You’ll be amazed to hear what those little brains can come up with.
• Watch a good, clean funny movie or TV show as a family. I would suggest “Napoleon Dynamite” or some old episodes of “The Three Stooges” on DVD.
• Reflect on funny times in your past together. If your life is anything like mine you’ll have loads of stories and moments to reflect on—funny stories with your kids growing up, the early days of your marriage, or dating experiences together, and so on.
Make laughter and joy a priority in your marriage. Couples who can laugh at themselves or at their situations usually feel stronger when problems arise.
Scientific studies have proven that our cardiovascular and respiratory systems, benefit more from twenty seconds of robust laughter than from three minutes of exercise on a rowing machine. Through laughter, muscles release tension and neurochemicals are released into the bloodstream, creating the same feelings long-distance joggers experience known as a “runner’s high.”
So, make it a point to take your medicine—laughter—everyday, and guard your humor from becoming hurtful.