Chapter 1 Excerpt
Laughter Eases Conflict
" When you laugh, you can’t hate." -- Michael Pritchard
In addition to easing us through trying circumstances, laughter also helps us deal with the disagreements that crop up in relationships because it interrupts the power struggle. It’s really hard to lock down in conflict with someone when you’re laughing. Conflict is a big problem for people to handle in their relationships, and they often find themselves fighting over things that seem minor in retrospect. Laughter has a magical ability to defuse anger by releasing it. That release, in turn, prevents or stops the conflict, eases the tension, and enables people to see one another’s point. Then they can resolve the issue and move on.
For instance, Casey and Dan had been arguing all day. They couldn’t see eye to eye on anything to save their lives. They had disagreed about the children, the work around the house, and paying the bills. Each felt the other was unappreciative and had no concept of the stress under which they were operating.
The day before, they had planned to go out but had not yet finalized their plans. Later in the afternoon, during a lull in both the arguing and the chores, Casey asked Dan what he thought they should do for the evening. Without missing a beat, Dan said, “Let’s fight.” Casey and Dan both burst out laughing. With the tension gone, they were able to decide what they wanted to do without a disagreement to steal away the pleasure.
When couples keep laughing, they can think about what goes on in their relationship. They can see options that are not hidden from view by unacknowledged and unresolved emotions. They are able to balance the difficulties they encounter with the fun and the good times. They also remember why they love each other.
We saw this with Kathy and Chris when they named their debt. In spite of their difficulty with money, Kathy and Chris never blamed each other for the problem, nor did they blame their relationship. They stayed in touch with their love for each other and leaned on each other for support. They eased the pain of financial strain with their laughter.
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