They say laughter is the best medicine, but have you and your spouse been to the doctor lately?

For many people, life’s day-to-day pressures make it difficult to laugh, especially with their spouse – the person who bears those burdens with them.

My husband and I have both noticed that we laugh less than we used to, but when we do let go and laugh so hard we cry, it feels good. Suddenly, we feel closer.

Below is a prescription for adding more laughter to your married life. Remember, take this medicine at least once a day.

Inside jokes

A friend who’s been married 35 years recently told me that having fun in marriage is all about attitude. "You always have to think there’s still humour in life," she said. "You have to still be able to poke each other at the mall and say, ‘Did you see that?’ ’’

She makes a keen observation: It’s hard to have fun if you’re tense, worried or wound up. Before you can laugh with your spouse, you need to relax. For the naturally tense spouse, this isn’t easy. But one way to loosen up is to not take yourself, or your spouse, so seriously. This is how a friend of mine keeps her marriage on the lighter side.

"My husband and I laugh at our faults," she said. "He considers heating up leftovers ‘making dinner.’ Every time we eat ice cream, I drip some on my shirt. Instead of being embarrassed or mocking one another, we laugh about it together."

Custom fun

Couples can have a blast by embracing one another’s personality and interests. You know your spouse the best: Does he like surprises? Or does he have more fun anticipating an event? Would she rather have dinner out or enjoy a romantic candlelight meal at home? Let your spouse’s personality enhance laughter in your marriage.

My husband is an avid and adventurous outdoorsman. He likes to camp off the beaten trail – no campground or outhouse in sight. I am, for the most part, a city girl. I like homes and working restrooms. When we lived in Colorado, though, we went camping the primitive way, and we had a great time. We laughed together while we made our own campfire and cooked a simple dinner.

Time for play

They say the couple that plays together, stays together. But for those with a limited imagination, finding fun things to do may prove difficult. If that’s you, here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Try something new. This could be an activity only one or neither of you has done before. Take a cooking class and learn an exotic cuisine. Venture out: Go hiking, take tennis lessons or enjoy a round of golf. Whether it’s going to a bed and breakfast in a different state or bike riding on a path near your home, do something new, and don’t forget to laugh while you’re at it.

Play together – and with others. A friend of mine, married for 25 years, recently told me, "Sometimes I just want to be alone and relax, but my wife invites friends over to play games. Before you know it, we’re having a blast, and I don’t know why I hesitated. When you’re with other people, you get energy from them."

While doing house chores, working a job and taking care of all the other details of life, find time to have fun together. Your laughter will help keep your marriage strong and healthy.

© 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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