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The Ups and Downs of Couples’ Humor

relationship-punI must confess: I’m a comic gourmand as opposed to a humor gourmet, meaning I go for joke quantity over quality–puns included. Style aside, I’ve learned over the years from my personal life as well as my work as a counselor and relationship coach the distinction between appropriate or above-board humor versus below-the-belt so-called humor. Since my blog post themes in recent years center around couples’ relationships, I’m targeting my remarks to committed couples and the ups and downs of couples’ humor.

couple-laughing2As in many aspects of life, couples can lose themselves in the daily grind, taking their routines too seriously and developing tunnel vision. I’m a staunch advocate of using well-timed humor to provide insights, perspectives and/or to lighten-up life. I regularly create light moments to defuse intensity or conflict and to inject color into my marriage. Appropriate and effective use of humor elicits a laugh, smile, and/or some form of aha! from my wife, Ruth. Although Ruth is more sparing with her jokes, she evokes the same from me. Our prudent comic relief serves to draw us closer, foster enjoyment, and can often prove instructive to one another.

older-couple-laughingThe operative word is discernment. Couples need to discern what forms of humor one’s partner appreciates versus what is off-putting or downright offensive. The downside of humor involves employing it as a weapon or a passive-aggressive annoyance. The worst use of humor concerns degrading or humiliating your mate, especially in front of others. Jokes made at the other person’s expense are usually rooted in hostility, an attempt to control, or to dominate–be one-up on your partner.

While occasional light sarcasm can be instructive, too often it is incisive and insulting. Even clever, quality humor that is not appropriate for a given situation can be a turnoff to your beloved–again, requiring discernment. Furthermore, overuse of humor can be an irritant, as it is to Ruth when I resort to excessive puns or silliness. Let’s get real; we know what kind of humor our mates like or accept and conversely, what upsets or offends them. In short, not knowing when to hold ’em and fold up can undermine or erode your relationship.

Here’s to using humor to enhance, spark, and evolve your partnership!

Your relationship coach,
Jim Sharon

Jim SharonJim Sharon, Ed.D., a licensed psychologist in private practice, has served as a counselor for over 40 years. He attained his life coach certification in 2001 and has received additional training in spiritual direction. Since 2014, he and his wife, Ruth, have specialized in coaching committed, devoted couples to significantly enhance their relationship. Jim and Ruth were voted best relationship coaches in Colorado in 2015 and 2016. Jim has previously served as a business and agency consultant, presented at state and national psychological conferences and has appeared on many radio and TV shows. He is the author of two books and many professional articles.

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