My husband and I lead a Marriage Support Group for a young church. Since the group is called MSG (like the flavor enhancer), the members started choosing food related names for themselves. We had Mr. Peanut Butter and Miss Strawberry Jam; Salt and Pepper; Ms Tomato and Mr. Red Hot Chili Pepper; Mr. and Mrs. Pumpkin; and Mr Durian (a stinky local fruit) and his wife, Pineapple. My husband was The Chef and they called me the Queen of Flavor. With a set-up like that, you know it’s bound to be fun.
Mike played a video of the old Hank Williams’ song, Hey, Good Lookin’ Whatcha Got Cookin’, then led us into a good discussion of the importance of humor in marriage. We had a great time.
So what does this have to do with living and working overseas? Just this. We can become so wrapped up in our work or so tired or so frustrated with how hard it is to live day-to-day, that we forget how delightful life is supposed to be. Maybe this article can be a wake up call to those who have misplaced their funny bone or forgotten how to laugh.
My husband and I have a lot of laughter in our marriage. That’s one of the things we liked most about each other before we were married. So, we naturally thought this was a normal part of everyone’s marriage.
Since leading that group, we have learned that some of the members grew up in homes where they never remember any humor. Some of these couples laughed before they were married, but have gotten so bogged down with just living in the urban rat race that they had forgotten how to laugh.
The writer of Proverbs tells us that a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. (Pro. 17:22) The Good News Bible translates it: “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.”
Henry Beecher said, “A marriage without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs–jolted by every pebble in the road. Humor makes all things tolerable.” Today we might say, “Marriage without a sense of humor is like a room in the tropics without air-conditioning. It is endurable, but with air-con, we can actually enjoy it.”
Are you too busy to laugh? If so, let’s start rediscovering our funny bones right now. What are some things you can do to make time for humor? You may have to schedule time to be with your family with nothing on the agenda. Plan family meals as often as possible. Maybe everyone can bring a joke or funny story. Remember: dinner time is not the time to discipline or complain! It’s a time for joy!
Are you too tired to laugh? Yes, I know. Some of us laugh most when we are most tired. Life just looks impossibly ridiculous when you are too tired to think straight. But if fatigue has paralyzed your sense of humor, here are some suggestions from our group. Watch a comedy together. Go to sleep early so you are rested enough to laugh tomorrow. Stick a funny picture in an unusual place so you laugh when you see it. Every smile counts.
Are you too intense to laugh? We give our kids a time-out when they are too wrought up. Maybe you should give yourself a time-out until you can get a better perspective on what’s important. Sometimes our spouse can break through our intensity. I can get really focused on computer work. My husband often brings a smile to my face with a bowl of popcorn or some wacky comment. He’s my king of comedy and I just love that about him.
Humor can heal. Chuck Swindoll said, “Laugh out loud! It flushes the nervous system.” He is right, according to the Mayo Clinic. Laughter can reduce stress and enhance a person’s quality of life. Laughter has physical effects because it stimulates the heart and lungs and improves the immune system. It increases endorphins, the brain’s feel good chemicals. And laughing reduces pain by producing the body’s own natural painkillers and that can break the pain-spasm cycle.
If you need a jump start for humor, try YouTube videos of Bill Cosby or Mark Lowry. Both of these comedians are funny yet with no bathroom humor or foul language.
Good humor has no victims. By now, I’m sure you know things about your husband that you cannot tease him about. Watch these sensitive spots, but find some things that you both think are funny. My husband has a small, soft nose. Mine is bigger and hard. We can find comments about our noses funny. There are other parts of us that are totally off-limits. If we see that something we’ve said has hurt instead of tickled, we are quick to say sorry and make amends.
Find Lost Fun
It doesn’t take much to make my husband or me laugh. We love plays on words, silly songs, and the unpredictable.
Try turning life on its side and see it from a different angle. Think outside your usual box.
Open your eyes to the delightful things around you. One of our favorite things to do is go to a local coffee shop. Malaysian friends gather around a table. Suddenly the whole group will explode in laughter, we join in, even though we are not at their table and have no idea what they are laughing about. Malaysians really know how to laugh.
Have a ‘fun fund.’ Set some money aside that you can use just for fun. Don’t go into debt for fun because paying it back later is no fun! Spend this money on things you really enjoy doing. It can be as simple as an ice cream cone after a hard day’s work to an hour in a hot air balloon once in a lifetime.
Getting Tickled with God
The Bible tells the story of Almighty God tickling Abram’s funny bone. Abram was 99 years old when the Lord announced to him that he was going to have a son by Sarai. Now he had had Ishmael when he was 86, so this was 13 years later. It says when Abram thought about a 100 year old man and a 90 year old woman having a baby, he fell on his face and laughed. (Gen. 17: 1, 15-17)
Someone asked Rufus Moseley, a joyful saint, if Jesus ever laughed. He answered, “I don’t know, but he sure fixed me so I can!”
So when the heat or the work or the people or the language begin to get you down, take a break and find the humor in it. Turn the situation on its head and have a good belly laugh. Treat your family to some good, clean jokes with dinner tonight. Sing a silly song or dance like a ballerina or hop like a frog. Your lives will be stronger and your calling healthier.
You might like to see an article about the 6 Things That the Happiest Families Have in Common.