Laughter as Love Medicine

The power of laughter for healing relationships that are hurting

Posted Mar 04, 2014

Laughter is a potent love medicine. It is an intimacy builder for couples. It feels good to laugh and let go. Laughter can go a long way in helping you resolve your issues, like it did for Abe and Lydia (pseudonyms for counseling clients of mine) who were having issues with a 14-year-old daughter, Elaine.

Elaine's teen rebellion was taking a toll on their marriage. Abe often lost his temper with Elaine, especially when she wore what he thought we're skimpy outfits or played her rap music too loudly. Lydia was caught in the middle and resented Abe for "losing it" since he was the adult.

Lydia: "Our house was so depressing. It was like we were all sneaking around trying not to notice each other and get another big fight. He resented me for not supporting him more. Elaine resented me for not supporting her more. I was really starting to get one down from all this. Abe and I hadn't connected in months."

She added, "One night when Elaine and I got home from the mall, we found Abe dressed in the most ridiculous outfit – tight jeans and a cut off T-shirt. He even had high heels on. He started dancing like a wild man around the kitchen to one of Elaine's favorite songs. We all started cracking up. This really cut the tension. It was not complete fix, but it helped. Not only did Elaine feel like she could finally talk to Abe, I felt much more like I was able to connect with him after that, too. We had forgotten how to laugh and have fun, both as a family and as a couple. "

Some couples make the mistake of trying to recapture the initial feelings of infatuation, which may be long gone (and that's normal). But know that your deeper, more enduring love and appreciation for each other can still be fun. So dance around the kitchen like Abe. Watch funny movies together. Get playful and silly. Start a water fight with the hose. Chase each other all around. Tell corny jokes. And most importantly, smile. Smile your way to intimacy and romance.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over twenty-two years’ experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared twice on the Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, CBS eyewitness news Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2006), 10 Days to Less Distracted Child (Perseus Books 2007), Liking the Child You Love (Perseus Books 2009) and Why Can’t You Read My Mind? (Perseus Books 2003).