Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Something to Laugh About in Marriage?

            A word about humor: There have been times in my marriage that I have wanted to be mad at my wife, usually because of some hurt, real or perceived. Yet, even in the midst of the conflict, I couldn’t stay mad at her. Not because of some heartfelt apology, or because she admitted she was wrong and said I was right. It was because we started laughing. More than once in our relationship, Lisa and I have laughed our way beyond the anger or frustration of the moment.
Humor is a great component of a joyful marriage. Humor can break tension at just the right moment, make you forget why you’re angry, and help you grow closer together. Just about everyone likes to laugh and likes to be around those who can say just the right thing to make them laugh.
In most relationships, teasing is present. It is a way to laugh together, to blow off steam, and maybe even to alert your partner to something you’d be reluctant to talk to them about in a serious manner. However, knowing boundaries when teasing is critical to a healthy marriage. Sometimes, hearing your spouse say the same thing too often begins to hurt. Sometimes, the things you laugh about together in private are received as insensitive and demeaning when said publicly by one spouse or the other. And sometimes we forget that if the only thing our partner hears is critical teasing without any loving and encouraging words then the discouraging picture painted can very quickly become the reality.
            John was stunned when his parents ended their marriage after thirty plus years. They’d raised their children and should have been looking forward to sharing their golden years together. Instead, Dora was only looking to escape her husband’s constant “teasing.” For thirty years, he’d relentlessly joked about everything from her appearance to her mannerisms to her cooking to her housekeeping. She was sick of it. It destroyed her self-esteem and made her feel hopeless and unlovable. He never realized what he was doing, and she never said anything about it because she didn’t want to be criticized yet again for “not being able to take a joke.”
            A marriage without humor would be a sad and pitiable thing. A marriage polluted with humor corrupted by Satan is often worse. Paul’s admonition to refrain from “coarse joking” which is out of place for God’s holy people (Ephesians 5:4), is not just a warning against dirty jokes, but a warning that Satan can distort “humor.” And satanic “humor” can destroy a marriage. How do you use humor? Do you laugh with your spouse, or at your spouse?


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