Why so Serious? 3 Ways to Invest Laughter in Your Marriage

My wife I and love to laugh (even as I type that, I almost see it as an understatement). It’s one of our two essential elements of a healthy marriage.

  1. Jesus. Gives us a foundation and structure to build with.
  2. Laughter. Gives us a healthy connection and a filter to process life.

Anne and I laugh with each other. And if we’re being really honest, we often laugh at each other. I’m not talking about mocking or ridiculing. But we laugh at the random “moments” that we find stinking hilarious.

For example, my clumsiness. Of all of the things I trip over or run into, nobody hits their elbow more than me on doorways and doorknobs. When that happens it’s followed by Anne saying, “Why can’t you just walk through a door like a normal person?” Don’t let her fool you, Anne has her “moments” like we all do.

Our investment in this part of our marriage began back in 1995 when we started dating. I really can’t remember every date over the span of 3 years, but I do remember us laughing together. This simple aspect of our marriage is, perhaps, one of the most overlooked and/or underestimated facet of marriage.

I truly believe that couples that stop laughing with each other (or having fun together) lose an essential component that paves the way for health in other areas of their marriage.  When I meet with couples, I often ask about how much “fun” they have. It’s not that I’m ignoring the troubles they’re having. I’m not immune to the frustration they’ve experienced. But this fundamental element, if ignored, makes traversing through the issues at hand 10-times more difficult.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, when the broken bleeding man was found by the Samaritan, he helped his wounds by “pouring on oil and wine.” Wine was necessary as it was the antiseptic. But don’t overlook the oil. It was the soothing agent to help with the pain. It proceeded the wine and paved the way for the antiseptic to be received.

If I can get a couple to enjoy each other more, two things happen, First, they are more apt to work together. You tend to want to work with people you like. Second, a lightened heart has more room for hope. And the more hope you contain, the more drive you have.

Mental health writer and activist Therese Borchard writes about how humor is a powerful healing agent. Some of health benefits packed in laughter include:

  • Decreases pain.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Reduces stress.
  • Helps the heart.
  • Burns calories.

I’ve had a few “not-so-laughy” people combat me on this issue. As a pastor, I think laughter is not just fundamental to a healthy marriage but essential to a healthy church. I’ve been told “life is serious” and “the gospel is not a joking matter.” Well, I don’t joke “about” the gospel and I am serious about life. How do you know I’m serious about life? I love my wife and my congregation enough to make sure that we embrace the fullness of Christ and that includes deeper depths of joy.

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:11

It’s only important if you see it as important.
You’ve got to want this!! Fun rarely happens by accident and, if it isn’t on your radar, it will rarely make your calendar.  Just like changing your dieting habits, you can’t expect a turnaround in one week if you’ve been living a certain way for 20 years. Get a good perspective that as much as bad habits are hard to break, developing good habits can be harder still.

Turn the frown upside down. 
As much as I dislike the cliché, there’s a deeper truth to it. Nobody can make you smile. Nobody can make you have fun. There must be a motive in your heart to want to see the “smile” in your marriage turned right-side up. A heart intended to experience joy has a greater capacity to…

  • See joyful opportunities.
  • Be more positive.
  • Overlook offenses.
  • Lighten atmospheres.

Laughter in cold blood. 
I recognize that the metaphor sounds intense, but there’s a greater truth to be understood. The term, “in cold blood” doesn’t mean “in the heat of passion,” but “in a calculated, deliberate manner.” I guess you could have fun by accident, but what if you and your spouse were approached laughter and fun in a calculated, deliberate way?

  • Get consistent date nights.
  • If you find something funny, send it/tell it to your spouse.
  • Find what brings a smile to your spouse and do “that.”
    • Note: I find, when I bring a smile to my spouse, it brings a smile to my face and heart.
  • Find new things for the both of you to experience some fun.

Laughter is an investment in your marital health. It is the soothing oil that can help pave the way for deeper issues to be exposed and dealt with. The more you pour in and the more time you give it, will pay off tremendous health dividends in your marriage. I know you’ve got “stuff” your marriage needs to work on. But I submit to you: Regain the ability to laugh.  Learn (or relearn) how to “like” each other again by doing something fun. And as your heart get’s “lighter,” pride, anger, and fear grows weaker. And the more I learn to facilitate joy, the more I understand the words of Nehemiah,

“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Love you all. Praying for you.

Encourage Effort.
Celebrate Progress.
Feed Hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Our Kfirst Values: We keep it fun

I started a series a few weeks back about the values of our church community. Here at Kfirst, our mission is our passion:  We make it simple for people to find and follow Jesus. And our values guide us towards that goal.

Check out last weeks by clicking on the value statement:

Week 1 – Everyone is Significant.

Week 2 – We are Contributors

Week 3 – God Works in Community.

This week…We keep it fun.

We keep it fun

Many people struggle with the idea of “church” and “fun” being in the same sentence. If that’s you, it’s most likely because the word “fun” is defined as: a carefree activity with no purpose or meaning. It’s an activity strictly meant to amuse. (the scene from Gladiator comes to mind, “Are you no not entertained?”) 

Honestly, if that is your definition, then I would agree with you; Church shouldn’t be fun. The idea of being something just to amuse is so spectator and consumer driven instead of something participatory and engaging.

But…when I look up the word “fun,” the first word to come up is the word “enjoyable.” With that definition in mind, that I would wholeheartedly say, Church should abso-stinkin-lutely be fun. It doesn’t mean we discount and/or disregard God and his greatness. We don’t treat the presence of God flippantly.  But when encountering Jesus for the first time, I experienced joy like I’ve never known. As I worship, there is a passion that I find in Him. When I engage with the Holy Spirit, there is a joy that floods my soul. It gives me a glimpse of what Jesus was talking about in John 15 when he said, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

I can legitimately say, church should be fun.  Fun isn’t about something set up to be “attraction” like a circus (Enter “Field of Dreams” line, “if you build it, they will come”). But we should do our best to cultivate an atmosphere in the facility AND an attitude in our hearts that says, “I’m ready to enjoy the presence of God.” We should have full joy being in the presence of God together with our church community. We should walk in full joy when we interact and engage in our communities.  Even when we go through the hardest of times, Jesus told us we can be of “good cheer” because he is able to overcome. Think about this, in the Old Testament, when David was broken internally because of the disaster in his life, what did he pray for in Psalms 51? He wanted the JOY of his salvation back.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have Jesus. And because of that fact…

The Church should be the most joyful people on the planet.

Too many people think church is anything but fun. We’re into changing that. We want Kfirst to be a place where you can encounter Jesus and receive life change that only He can bring. We desire to see you enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit, that the passion you carry will show the world around you the greatness and goodness of our Savior.

Those who give everything to follow Christ, find everything. And laughter and joy (fun/enjoyment) are part of the ways that God blesses His people.

I love what Reggie Joyner says,

You can measure the temperature of a church by how much its people laugh.

We keep it fun.  But, to us, fun isn’t about entertainment for spectators. It’s about enjoying the presence of God as we participate together in worshiping Jesus and serving the world around us.

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations,  “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Psalms 126:2-3)

 

Weekly Marriage Checklist – 8 Things EVERY Marriage Should Be Doing On a Weekly Basis

Today I wanted to get into an incredibly practical marriage blog.

My wife and I are list makers.  Even though we do our lists differently, it gives us both a sense of accomplishment to check them off. I use my phone (Asana).  She’s old school with pencil and paper.  But nevertheless, we want to look over our days and week and feel we got done what needs to get done. 

So today,  wanted to give you a simple checklist to help with some items, I believe, should be on your weekly radar. 

Every week, I believe EVERY couple should have…

  1.  A Weekly overview.
    • Anne and I have a standing appointment every Sunday night where we talk through our week.  It’s a simple touch to keep our communication and expectations on an appropriate level.  We talk through our personal schedules. We talk though family schedules. It’s here were we decide when dates, family connection, and downtime is needed.  It’s amazing how this little AND SIMPLE action can clear up what to expect and keep our communication healthy.
  2. A Worship Point.
    • Being a part of a church community TOGETHER is a huge foundational piece of marriage. Being together to worship, serve, and engage in your church will help build relationships necessary for your personal growth as well as marital growth. On top of that, your involvement in your church community can be a tremendous blessing to others. See yourself as a part of a greater body.  You are necessary to others and others are necessary to you. 
  3. A Date.
    • I think every couple can carve out of your week an hour or two. Do a meal, get some ice-cream, or go for a walk at a park. A date doesn’t have to have much (if any) cost.  Get out of your head that you need to do something extravagant (not that I’m against that) as a “date.” I’m speaking to time for the two of you to have that relational connection you need.  
  4. Alone Time. 
    • From hobbies to leisure time, having time to yourself is necessary.  Don’t get me wrong, I love time with Anne and she loves time with me. But it is healthy to have a few moments where there’s a bit of separation. Anne and I don’t watch all the same shows/movies.  We don’t enjoy all the same hobbies.  That doesn’t take away from our marriage.  It adds to it. 
  5. A Place(s) of Generosity. 
    • There is a true joy in being generous as a couple.  When you give out of your time, talents, and treasure, you foster the heart of God (of which you were made in the image of). For almost two decades, Anne and I are faithful givers to our local church. We give to missions and benevolence. But we also look for opportunities to bless those in our community.  Generosity will foster a depth of joy that so many people take for granted. 
  6. An Intimate Moment(s).
    • Sex and intimacy are not the same thing nor is Sex the source of intimacy. It should be seen as an expression of intimacy. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that healthy marriages have a consistent sex-life.  What the frequency looks like isn’t up to you the individual. It’s what has been agreed upon by both you and your spouse (prevents one libido from lording over the other). But remember: Intimacy doesn’t always include sex.  It is far deeper. It’s that intimate connection where you selflessly serving your spouse’s love language. Intimacy doesn’t have to fade in your marriage, it just looks different over time.  Find what your spouse’s love language is and look to serve it without strings attached (expectations of reciprocation). When you connect the heart of your spouse, that is intimacy. 
  7. Laughter/Fun. 
    • (This is a bit more than a scheduled event. It’s more of an element that’s needed.) Couples that schedule fun moments are far healthier on EVER level (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual).  Anne and I will watch clips on Youtube in the evenings. Sometimes we’ll send them to each other over Facebook messager.  Maybe you two like games and/or activities.  It could be movies or books.  Find what the other enjoys that fills your marriage with smiles.
  8. Heavy Encouragement.  
    • This should be a daily point instead of a weekly one. My rule I give couples all the time: Don’t let anyone out-encourage you when it comes to your spouse. For too often, people only speak up when they see something wrong.  Why do we build that culture in our marriages? Catch your spouse doing something right. From accomplishments to even just the simple effort to attempt something, find ways to fill your spouse full of encouragement. 

Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. There’s probably some other things you can add to it specifically for your marriage. But, in my opinion, these are essentials that I don’t think couples can do without. 

Love Jesus passionately. 
Love your spouse passionately. 
Make both a heavy priority in your life. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

7 Habits of Highly Defective Marriages part 6: Lack of Laughter

UW4A7335-14
A month ago, we started a new series of seven blogs designed to recognize unhealthy habits. If you missed the last four weeks check out our first FIVE Highly Defective Habits:

Habit #1: Spiritual Continuity.

Habit #2: The Single Life

Habit #3: The Fun-less Couple

Habit #4: Criticism Floods

Habit #5: Inconsistent Sex

Here we go…#6 on the list of my 7 Habits of Highly Defective Marriages:

Defective Marriage

Habit #6: Lack of Laughter

laugh·ter/laftər
noun: the action or sound of laughing
Synonyms: chuckling, chortling, guffawing, cackling, sniggering

I feel I can’t blog on this topic enough.  There are too many people who take themselves WAY TOO seriously.  A great quote from Agnes Repplier says,

We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.

Such truth about a sorely forgotten VITAL aspect of marriage.  We do not realize how necessary laughter is in marriage. Anne and I always talk (and blog) about our two essential ingredients to marriage: Jesus and laughter.

Psalm 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

I remember it was almost four years ago, I was in the salon waiting for Anne to finish getting her hair cut.  We were playful arguing back and forth about something silly.  We were not just laughing, we were egging on each other causing a bit of a scene which drew in the rest of the people in the salon.  We found out later (from Lisa…Anne’s stylist) that after we left, the people in the salon (workers and customers) were talking about us.  They assumed we had just gotten married because we were playful as well as willing to laugh so much together.  Lisa blew them away when she told them married we had been married 10+ years.  Why were they shocked at that? Because, for some reason, couples with any vintage, are NOT supposed to laugh that much.

Why do we see laughter as an option in marriage? Why do we not strive for more of it?  We wait for it to happen like a desperate person holding their lotto ticket listening to the numbers being read on the TV.  We yearn to laugh with our spouse again.  We hope it’ll happen. Maybe today we’ll hit the jackpot and enjoy a time of fun together.

Laughter isn’t something that happens randomly like a lightning strike.  Laughter is fostered and cultivated. It has to be seen as an essential piece of the marriage puzzle. Take it from professionals.  Comedian Bob Hope said laughter is an “instant vacation.” Jay Leno says, “You can’t stay mad at somebody who makes you laugh.” And Bill Cosby says, “If you can find humor in anything, you can survive it.” These men made a living on the understanding that laughing brings an astronomic affect to people.  Crowds would gather around them to get “medicated” with humor (Prov. 17:22).

When it comes to laughter, it produces a number of benefits: 

  • Reduces stress and tension.
  • Stimulates your immune system.
  • An increase of natural painkillers in your blood.
  • Reduces blood pressure.
  • Raises your spirits.
  • Laughter relieves tension and brings closeness.
  • Having a sense of humor refreshes your relationship.

As you can see, laughter is not to be taken lightly. Laughter is to be indulged in.  It’s the dessert of life that should be enjoyed every day…as much as possible!!! You need this.  Your spouse needs this. I want to help you increase the laughter and in your marriage.  I challenge you to…

  • Look for the “funny” in your day. Be aware of the humorous moments around you.
  • Laugh when you don’t feel like laughing.
  • Make it a habit to share funny moments with your spouse. Don’t wait to tell them later.  Bring them into the moment.
  • Become of student of your spouse. Study what makes them laugh.
  • Reflect on funny times in your past together.

When it comes to laughing, psychologists and scientists agree. Their studies reveal that individuals who have a strong sense of humor are less likely to experience burnout and depression and they are more likely to enjoy life in general — including their marriage. Do you want a marriage that is set up for success? Do you want to bring health and vitality to your marriage? Do you want a marriage that is HIGHLY EFFECTIVE?

Create a culture of laughter.

Thanks for letting me ramble…