I’ve had this cartoon hanging on the outside of my university office door for about three years. That side of my door is plastered with quotes, thoughts, cartoons, etc. My thesis advisor used to plaster his door and he’s now retired. Somebody’s got to pick up the hallway humor and I figure it might as well be me.
I change the quotes out periodically, but this one has stuck for a while now. Just about the time I think it’s time to take it down, I’ll see a person look at it, pause, then smile. Sometimes they are with another person and they comment to each other. So, I guess it will stay put for a bit longer. The cartoon does, however, remind me of something that I think about a great deal: humor within relationships.
Humor in the classroom has shown to have positive effects in terms of students’ perceptions that they are learning more. Humor in the military is a tried and true coping mechanism – a mainstay of comrades helping each other get through extremely stressful situations. Attraction science measures “type of humor” as one of the highest factors in selection criteria when young couples begin pairing up for potential marriages. And, humor is even considered a type of power among same-gendered groups. In other words, he or she who has the humor, has the power. Social scientists continue to be interested in the secret to humor and how it is useful (or not) within our relationships.
Sometimes when I think about my husband during the day, I catch myself thinking about a joke or a laugh we’ve recently shared together. In fact, our entire 25 year marital history is now a complex and interwoven “secret language” of inside humor, insider stories and meanings or narratives that only the two of us would fully understand. But I also wonder why it’s the laughs that I use as a memory resource. Are the laughs a reserve, perhaps, like the old emotional bank account adage of deposits and withdrawals? Big laughs certainly punctuate our human bodies with nice doses of hormones which are helpful to our emotional well being. Maybe returning to those memories is like “going back to the pool” for second dip. It’s a good thing.
This post isn’t meant to be a long drawn out literature review on humor and relationships so much as it’s meant to ask you a simple question: Are you laughing? Are those with whom you are close sharing laughter occasionally? Do you feel supported or connected because of those humorous moments? If yes – good! Keep it up!
If not, then here is your prescription today: Take one joke before each meal, three times daily. Share with those you love. And start building your happy memories.