Couples in great marriages laugh a lot. They laugh together and they laugh individually. It is apparent in watching them that they are truly enjoying life and their relationship. Laughter is associated with fun. Nobody laughs when they’re miserable or bored. It is a symptom of a deeper feeling. So why is it so easy for some couples to laugh regularly, and others seem so terminally serious?
It’s all about perspective. It’s how we choose to react or feel in a given situation. I’m not talking about something dire like an emergency, sickness or death, but simply day to day situations. You can choose to be miserable, or you can choose to enjoy the moment and laugh.
My wife and I have been on several cruises. It’s a form of vacation that we really enjoy. Granted some of these trips have been better than others, but we have enjoyed each one of them. When we return, I typically go on line to leave a (positive) review, thinking that others might benefit from things that we discovered and loved. I’m always amazed when I read other’s reviews regarding the same trip. They complain about the food, the service, the filth in their rooms, the horrific attitude of the staff, etc. It’s hard to believe that I was actually on the same ship with them. That’s a great example of perspective. Did everything go exactly as we had planned it to go? Probably not. Was every meal worthy of a five-star review? No. Was every show the greatest we’d ever seen? Of course not. But where was our focus? Overall, we had a great time. The good always outweighed the less than perfect (notice I didn’t say bad). It was a week that we got to spend together, away from work and our routines. I always feel bad for people who go on these trips and “choose” to have such a miserable experience.
Sometimes things can be rough. We took a long road trip out West a couple of summers ago with our teens (son and daughter). Exhausted after driving all day, we needed to find a place to spend the night. We weren’t near any major cities (nearest one was going to be another two hours ahead), so we stopped at a motel in a smaller, Colorado town. This place looked like it was right out of an I Love Lucy episode from the 1950s. Two twin beds (and a cot for our daughter) were crammed into a dark, paneled room with a low ceiling. A 16″ flat screen television adorned the wall. There was no restaurant on site, no ice machine, none of the typical amenities that modern hotels offer. We were told there was a bait and tackle store across the street that served meals when they weren’t out fishing. Our teens were ready to leave at that moment. There was nothing about this place that made them want to stay.
But Tara and I saw this as a great adventure (perspective). We began laughing and making it out to be the greatest place imaginable. We even lucked out and found the bait store was serving dinner! In the middle of the night a long train went roaring by (it seemed within feet) the back of the motel literally shaking our beds. The teens woke up and groused, but Tara and I spoke of the additional ambiance that you just couldn’t get anywhere else.
Would I want to spend a week at a motel like that? Absolutely not. But it was one night, and it was far more memorable than staying at any of the chain hotels we were used to. The bottom line is, we chose to enjoy it. We knew it would make a memory and we laughed and laughed. Now, even the teens look back at it with humor.
We recently met with a couple that is working through some issues. We encouraged them to have a date night between our sessions. When we met with them again, they told us the date didn’t go very well. It turns out that he planned the evening. He asked her which of two types of live events she wanted to go to. He had one he really wanted to see (an NBA game), but offered up a second choice that he knew she liked a play at the community theater. She chose to go to the basketball game. From the moment she walked in she made it clear that this was not an experience she would enjoy. The atmosphere, the noise and the crowd were all aspects she disapproved of. As a result, his hope for a fun evening dissipated. When we met the next time and they recalled this story, we encouraged them to consider their perspective. If this was an event she knew in advance she wouldn’t like, she should have chosen the other option. But once she agreed to go, she should have tried to make the most of it. The purpose of date night wasn’t just to see an event (they could watch that at home on tv). It was to spend time together and experience something different. She got so focused on the “what”, she completely missed the “why”. Sometimes just looking at the “why” can help you to adjust your attitude.
Laughter is an indicator of happiness, which is in turn an indicator of a great (shocking) marriage. Make fun and laughter a priority in your marriage!
NOTE: If Laughter and fun are important to you, that should be a part of the Vision for your marriage. If you’ve not created a Vision, consider crafting one in our free course. It will walk you through the process of creating and living out a vision that can guide your relationship into the future!