“Humour is the shortest road from one person to another.” —Georges Wolinski
I first met my husband on a blind date set up by my cousin and a mutual friend. I was told he was tall, South African, highly intelligent and a very special person.
It was Passover and Easter weekend, so nothing seemed to be open except for the bookstore, Indigo. About five minutes into the date, I was convinced he was very serious with very little personality and no sense of humour. Little did I know, he had been making constant jokes throughout the entire date. I just wasn’t getting them, for as my husband puts it, “he’s the straight man.” Because I was missing his jokes, from his perspective my husband was convinced that I had no sense of humour.
When I returned home after the date, I thanked our mutual friend for the set up but told her I wasn’t interested. I explained that the man I would marry needed to be someone who catches me when I’m too serious and knows how to make me laugh.
She responded with, “Exactly. That’s Marc. You didn’t get him. You need to try again.”
On our second date I listened closely and I realized that he was indeed, quite funny in his own straight man, South African, intellectual kind of way.
In my practice as a psychotherapist, I’ve seen that humour is a priority for many people who are searching for a partner. Everyone wants to marry someone who can make them laugh!
However, according to Jeffrey Hall, an associate professor of communication studies at University of Kansas, relationship satisfaction is not necessarily just about being a funny person, or being able to make a joke out of anything. It’s about the humour that couples create together.
In his 2017 academic article “Humor in Romantic Relationships, a Meta-Analysis” Hall states, “If you share a sense of what’s funny, it affirms you and affirms your relationship through laughter.”
Have you ever wondered why so many couples have inside jokes? Sharing life experiences is one way to bond and connect with your partner, but finding humour in the ups and downs of your life together creates a deeper, more personal and intimate bond.
Hall goes on to explain that, “Playfulness between romantic partners is a crucial component in bonding and establishing relational security. Particularly shared laughter is an important indicator of romantic attraction between potential mates.”
On the flip side, researchers have warned that mean-spirited jokes are signs of a couple who probably don’t have longevity because it indicates there are problems in the relationship.
Throughout my career as a psychotherapist, I have met with couples who experience a multitude of struggles. But partners who laugh together and find time for levity in their sessions, and sometimes even incorporate my humour into their lives, tend to get the most out of their therapy sessions.
The ones who put each other down, and make jokes at each other’s expense, make it hard and at times impossible for me to help them salvage their relationship.
After 12 years of marriage, I’ve learned humour is the key to a happy union. I not only understand that the majority of what my husband says to me throughout the day is in fact funny, but we also have developed new hilarious jokes between the two of us, as well as family jokes that were created by our children.
In light of the fact that we are currently living through a very difficult time in history; a global pandemic which has resulted in fear, anxiety, isolation and depression, humour is one of the most important elements we can incorporate into our marriages, relationships, and families.
Header image design by Clarrie Feinstein.