By Justyn Lang, Contributing WriterEvery couple has their own unique set of difficulties, trials and stresses. Too often we allow those things to come between us, rather than letting God use them to strengthen our marriages. We get impatient with each other, we forget to speak in love, sometimes we even begin to see each other as the problem. The stress builds and our marriages suffer.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22
Joy can be healing.
When life is crazy and we just can’t get our feet under us, laughing together instead of snapping at each other can make all the difference. Some people mistakenly think that going through hard things together will make them stronger, but that isn’t true. We have to choose to respond to those hard things in the right way for us to be strengthened in our marriage. If we default to attacking each other, all we’ve done is reinforced bad habits.
Last winter we were going through a very stressful time. Some was good stress, some was bad stress. We intentionally laughed together whenever possible. You might be surprised how often funny little things will pop up if you are looking for them. I’m a naturally serious person. I don’t “make light of things” like my hubby. I tend to want serious things to be taken seriously, which has always meant that stressful times just weren’t the “right” time to laugh. During that stressful season I realized that if I waited for smoother waters, it would be quite a while before there was any laughter happening in our house.
Laughing together may seem like a very small thing. After all, most people talk about praying together, trusting God and other more “spiritual” things when times are tough. We did all of those, of course, but we chose to really focus on being thankful and joyful, too. The people I know who have really been able to trust God through the hard times aren’t the ones who stoically and unemotionally endured, they were the ones who could see good things and be thankful for them throughout their trials. They were the ones who had light hearts in spite of heavy burdens, because they chose to let God carry the burden for them. As a result, they had joyful hearts.We don’t need to deny how serious, tragic or painful a situation is, but why not appreciate the small pieces of happiness that are scattered throughout the situation, too? If a husband and wife are able to do that together as they trust God, their marriage will be strengthened. Laughing together builds a bond in a unique way. A person doesn’t relax and laugh with an enemy. When we laugh with another person, we’re letting them know that we like them. We build camaraderie through the shared moment of joy. It doesn’t have to be anything extremely witty, just make sure that your spouse knows you truly are laughing “with them” not “at them”.
In our stressful season, we grew closer to each other and we sincerely enjoyed watching God work things out in our lives. I wonder whether we would have noticed all the little blessing as much if we had been gloomy and sad. Not only was our marriage strengthened, but our kids benefited, too! Laughing with your spouse and laughing with your kids really can take hard times and help you to see the blessings.