Chapter 1 Excerpt
Laughter Is Marvelous for Love
" Love has a code name: Laughter." -- David Holmutstrom
Laughter is a marvelous opening for love. It breaks down the instinctive barriers between two people and allows them to trust each other. The fears most of us have about other people are rooted in the past. People have hurt us, and we developed strategies to protect ourselves from any more pain. Our families have also passed along protective beliefs and behaviors, which have evolved over time.
Like Romeo and Juliet, we often have to defy the family rules in order to love one another. Happily, for us, fears and suspicions seem to dissolve in our laughter. The bonding qualities of laughter allow us to feel such emotional closeness that we want to be physically and spiritually close as well. It’s something deeper than just biology. It’s part of the mystery of laughter that we have yet to solve.
Another special quality laughter brings to relationships is its ability to minimize our need to gain self-confidence by analyzing and judging other people. When we laugh with the person we love, criticism seems to collapse. We are able to let them be themselves and enjoy them even more for that. As laughter opens us up and allows us to be vulnerable, we become willing to make changes. We no longer need to keep score of the good things we do for our partners. We lose track, and we don’t even care. Laughter, supporting our love, makes us generous to a fault, and we feel better giving than receiving.
In love, Nathan, Madeleine, Bryan and Victoria are each delighted with the other’s differences. Each is interested in everything about the other. For now, difference is not a threat but an advantage. Their differences compliment each other, and they feel more complete.
By falling in love and laughing with one another, they have created a welcome relief from the scrambling to compete that they generally experience in everyday life. They feel safe with each other. These four people have found what we’re all seeking—unconditional acceptance. They have a friend who won’t leave and who likes who they are.
When we’re in a laughing, loving relationship, the hurts we experience in everyday life are not as overwhelming. Our laughter shrinks them to a smaller, if not inconsequential, size, and we don’t have to face them alone. We have someone to support us and to commiserate with us. As we hold onto one another in times of distress, we grow closer and closer together. As a result, even distress has its good side.
Bryan can’t do enough for Victoria. His laughter has opened him up emotionally so he can express the love he feels inside. He doesn’t question why he feels so generous and openhearted with her. He accepts the fact that love creates laughter, and the laughter creates an environment in which his love can grow.
As a man, he has learned to believe that he has to control his emotions most of the time. He has done it for so long that it has become a part of what he considers his nature, but loving Victoria creates an exception to the rule. However, in addition to love, he finds himself coping with other thoughts and feelings as well. He feels things he doesn’t even recognize because they have long been buried in his unconscious mind. His feelings, creaking a little from disuse, have begun to surface because his unconscious mind perceives his relationship as a means for healing old wounds.
Although it can be a little unnerving for him, it also feels surprisingly good. Feeling means laughing, and he likes laughing again. At first, he wonders why he ever shut it down to such a degree. Then he is amazed to discover he doesn’t care why. He realizes he just wants to let go. When he does, laughter fills him up with good feelings that support his love for Victoria.
In accepting the gift of laughter without question, Bryan avoids one of the major pitfalls curtailing the ability to laugh. Laughter is born of right brain activity and, therefore, lacks reason and defies analysis. It’s deliciously out of control because it’s not a rational process. Unfortunately, that makes some of us uncomfortable, and we start to question.
When people start to think about their laughter and try to isolate its origin, they stop laughing. Rational analysis is a left-brain function and not conducive to laughter. If we feel we have to offer ourselves or anyone else an explanation about why we are laughing, it is the end of our laughter. Fortunately, couples in love aren’t overly concerned with reasons for their good feelings, and, therefore, laughter flourishes.
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