Finding Love Through Laughter

Women hugging and laughingIn my work with gay couples over the years, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon that occurs when a relationship is on the rocks. For most lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans (LGBT) couples that are going through a rough patch, it seems that laughter and playfulness is abandoned and replaced by worry, anxiety, stress, fear, and anger. When these heavier energies dominate the relationship it can be challenging to see the goodness in yourself, let alone your partner.

I am not suggesting that you can laugh your way to a healthy relationship — that takes communication, trust, and honesty — but a good belly laugh echoing through the house can be an effective antidote for the stale energy that can develop in a long-term relationship.

Laughing together is a great way to improve the mood of any moment, as well as diffuse conflict. When sharing that laughter with someone you love, the benefits multiply exponentially. It creates a bond between the two of you and adds joy back into the equation of the relationship.

How Does It Work?
This energy shift isn’t just psychological; there is an actual physiological change that takes place in the body. When you experience a deep, heartfelt laugh, there is a rapid exchange of oxygen in the respiratory system, the heart beats more rapidly from the movement of the abdominal muscles associated with laughter, and most importantly, endorphins are released. This endorphin rush moves feel-good chemicals into the brain, increasing your appetite for touch and connection. Suddenly your partner seems desirable, sexy, and intriguing. And you feel the same about yourself.

Laughter can also remind you and your partner of better times when things seemed easier and less overwhelming. This reminder of the playful facets of your relationship opens up the doorways to successful communication by reigniting your commitment to work through things together. Laughter brings back a lightness and ease that brings you into the present moment, where you can more effectively connect and appreciate each other.

So how else can laughter assist you and your partner to stay connected and emotionally healthy? Bringing a little levity into the relationship will allow the two of you to develop a greater sense of spontaneity, which in turn can get you out of your head and into your heart. Laughter also helps to reduce the need for defensiveness, which can interfere with each partner’s ability to really hear one another. When defensiveness is removed it is easier for each partner to express true feelings and build a strong and resilient relationship.

How Can My Partner and I Practice It?
To bring this energy of laughter and fun into your relationship, you and your partner will initially need to actively pursue it. Watch funny movies together, go see comedy shows or your favorite comedic drag queen, even share jokes that you hear through friends or online. Play with kids or even your pets to experience spontaneous laughter.

It can even begin with the simple gesture of smiling at your partner whenever you see them. Meeting each other with the lighter more lifted energy of a smile immediately sets the stage for good things to come. Let a smile light your face at even the simplest things about your partner that bring you happiness.

It can also help to work with your partner to focus on the lighter side of life and not get overwhelmed with the stress of daily life. Working together, you can practice keeping things in perspective, encouraging each other to use laughter to dissolve stress and anxiety.

It can be incredibly uplifting to laugh with your partner about the slings and arrows that get thrown at either of you by the cruel twists of fate. Laughing with someone you love is a tonic that can make it all seem better.

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by John Sovec, LMFT, therapist in Pasadena, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • STEVE

    STEVE

    May 31st, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    THIS IS TRUE FOR ANY RELATIONSHIP, NOT JUST THE LGBT COMMUNITY…LAUGHTER IS A GREAT HEALER AND FIXER OF RELATIONSHIPS, AND OF ALL KINDS.IT CAN BRING TWO PEOPLE TOGETHER AND IT CAN HELP MAKE FRIENDS.AND IT DOESNT COST A THING.SO LAUGH!BECAUSE IT IS GOOD AND IT HAS A HEALING TOUCH.

  • brennan

    brennan

    June 1st, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    I agree with the comment Steve made above.
    This is not something that is exclusive to gay couples, this is for any couple out there trying to make things work
    If you forget to laugh together then I think that there is this natural inclination to forget to love one another too.
    There are of course going to be good times and bad, but laughter can do so much to smooth things over, lots more than I think that we give it credit for.
    It may not necessarily be the only key to relationship longevity but too much laughter never hurt anything either.

  • Stephanie

    Stephanie

    June 2nd, 2013 at 5:41 AM

    My mom was wise enough to tell me all the time to look for a man who keeps you laughing. I did and we are still going strong twenty years later. Thanks mom!

  • John-Peter Gernaat

    John-Peter Gernaat

    June 6th, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    We assume laughter is a reaction to humour or something funny, but research (see laugology) suggests that laughter is a primal language that starts in babies at about 3 months, long before cognitive brain functioning. We tend to loose the ability to laugh for no reason from puberty, but it is possible to reconnect with this primal source of unconditional laughter. Dr Madam Kataria has demonstrated this with Laughter Yoga. Practicing unconditional laughter alone, with a partner or with a group on a regular basis changes one’s outlook on life to a more positive and inclusive outlook. Most importantly it reduced the negative effect of stress in our lives.

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