Category Archives: Love Languages

When’s The Last Time You Laughed Together?

Some of you who read this blog regularly are in marriage crisis and are desperate for help. This may not be the blog post for you, because when you’re in crisis it can be difficult to smile around each other, much less share deep laughter. I have no desire to downplay what this feels like or the serious work you must do.

Many others who read this blog aren’t in crisis per se, but you are looking for ways to deepen, strengthen, and mature your relationship. You’re serious about moving your marriage from ho-hum to high-energy – or maybe it’s already there and you just want more ways to maintain it.

My advice to you: Laugh together more.

What laughter does for us

One of my favorite movie scenes from youth is the “I love to laugh” song in Mary Poppins. As the adults and children are overcome with laughter, they begin floating in air. The more they laugh, the higher they float. (I dare you to watch this clip without at least a grin.)

That scene is a perfect visualization of what laughter does for us. It lifts us up. Scientists will tell you: your laughter triggers your endorphins (your feel-good hormones) and reduces your stress hormones. It also helps you fight infection. All good, but you don’t even need to understand the biology to know that when we laugh, everything just feels better.

And the laugher is even richer when you share it with a partner. You have a shared history, you know each other’s triggers (the good kind), and you know how to play off of one another. When it happens, it’s magic. The only thing better is good sex! Or, good sex and laughter!

Making the most of it

So the question is, how do we laugh together more? How do we make the most of this magic elixir that makes us feel so good?

One way is to play together more. Dr. Stuart Brown, a renowned psychiatrist, author of the book PLAY and head of the National Institute for Play, defines playing as something done for its own sake. “It’s voluntary,” he says. “It’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

Does that remind you of anything you’ve done with your spouse lately? If not, get with it! The more you play together, the more likely you’ll be laughing together. To inspire you, consider these types of playing behaviors as listed by Brown:

Body play: Have you ever jumped up and down just for the fun of it? That’s body play.

Object play: This is using any type of object for fun, such as tossing a ball or throwing Frisbees.

Social play: Think of rough-housing and team games.

Imaginative and pretend play: Ever done an escape room?

Storytelling/narrative play: This is seeing a play together, or just a great Netflix show, or maybe even listening to a story-based podcast.

Creative play: When’s the last time you built a sandcastle together?

What has made you laugh in the past?

Dr. Brown also encourages people to consider their “play history,” which is thinking about the ways they’ve experienced fun in the past. This is something that’s really helpful for me. I love thinking back over my life with John and remembering when we laughed best together. What were we doing? Who were we with? How did we feel?

How about you? Think of times when you’ve really enjoyed being with your spouse, laughing together, without any demands on one another. What dynamics were in play that you could replicate now? What keeps you from going there again?

A word of warning

Laughter and playing can be one of the richest rewards of marriage; but sometimes they can be used to cover up issues in our marriages needing to be surfaced and addressed. The key to noticing is balance. There is a time for laughter, but also a time for tears, and a time for deep, soulful sharing. Your marriage deserves all of these.

Much of this you can do on your own. But sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective, especially when you find your marriage is stuck in low gear. Our coaches have techniques they can share to help get started. Don’t hesitate to get the help you need – your marriage is worth it.

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Three Questions That Can Change Your Marriage

3 Questions to change your marriage

Think Back to Your First Years of Marriage

Remember when you first met your spouse, and hours passed that seemed like seconds, and you got butterflies just thinking about him or her?

Unfortunately, I have many clients sit down in my office who come in, where they just don’t have those “feelings” anymore, and their marriage has turned into more of a companionship and roommate situation than a romantic, intimate marriage.  One spouse inevitably says “I’m not in love anymore,” and the other spouse is shocked.

Fighting Hard to Stay In Love

As I mentioned in my post, A Counselor’s Secret Confession, “Soulmates aren’t found, they are created through commitment, perseverance and hard work.” My husband and I have been married for over 25 years, and we’ve fought hard for our marriage to be where it is today.

It’s a tough battle that has been fought, and won, by many couples in our office.  Even if your spouse won’t agree to come with you to counseling at first, we can help you find ways to work on your side of the marriage.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself to Change Your Marriage Dialogue

  1. Do you know your spouse’s Love Language?  Marriage expert Gary Chapman qualifies five different ways people give and receive love.  By speaking your spouse’s language, you can more easily convey that you value them.
  2. Are you casting blame on your spouse?  Often times, when we feel like we may lose our marriage, we blame our spouse.  Stop and consider if you have internal-dialogue with yourself, blaming your spouse for your unhappiness all the time.  Recognizing it is the first step in making a shift.
  3. Do you nag your spouse, or are you able to give kind, constructive criticism?  Start by sitting down with your spouse and letting them know how you feel.  For example, “I feel ______ when this happens in front of our friends.”  By using “I statements” you are not accusing or nagging, just starting a conversation. Keep in mind that behind every complaint is a request. Drop the complaint and stick with the request.

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Take A Next Step to Change Your Marriage

Regain the connection in your marriage with help to move past resentment and find the way back to hope.  Love is a great place to start, but it certainly isn’t all you need. The Marriage Place Counseling Center brings together both people in a relationship to create something bigger and better…and far more powerful.  Schedule a free, 30-minute consultation or book an appointment today to help change your marriage.

 

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