A lot of people claim to have a secret way to achieve something. The secret to weight loss, the secret to financial success, the secret to solving a Rubik’s cube. After all, people are always looking for some kind of hidden formula that, once revealed to them, will result in easy and guaranteed success. Nowhere is that more true than with love. Want to know the secret to attracting Mr. Right or Mrs. Right? Just do this one thing, and—ta da!—you’ll find the man or woman of your dreams. Want to know the secret to winning back your spouse’s love? Just do this one thing, and—ta da!—they’ll fall back into your arms.
Forget all of that. I’m going to tell you the real secret to saving your marriage. But here’s the thing. You can only use this secret if you “get” the following quip:
My dog has no nose.
How does he smell?
The secret to saving your marriage is humor. Or more precisely, the appropriate use of humor.
A well-timed, well-suited joke provides one of the best ways to avoid or de-escalate tension. That’s why so many horror movies and tragic stories often incorporate comic relief. Think of undead Jack’s witticisms in An American Werewolf in London or the grave-digger scene in Hamlet. Something scary, something serious, is made more bearable by humor.
Marriage problems are serious and scary too
It’s frightening to know that your spouse has been with someone else or has feelings for someone else, or that they may never be able to forgive you for something you’ve done. It’s frightening to be in the midst of an argument and to hear your spouse say something hurtful, alarming, unexpected, critical, or mean-spirited. It’s frightening to know that your or your spouse’s resentment or sadness is rising by the moment, and that at any moment they might just walk out that door with an angry “Fuck it, I’m done,” and never come back.
You know that there is no true secret to saving a marriage. There are, however, actual real-world insights and strategies that can save your marriage. I provide those to my clients and course-takers every single day in the form of my Marriage SOS™ online crash courses. And once you learn to use those big tools to fix what’s broken—whether it’s a betrayal or something else—you can reach for the smaller but still vital tools. Like humor.
According to the Mayo Clinic—although you probably already know this—humor has some amazing effects on the body and mind. It relieves pain, improves one’s mood and, importantly, it helps us cope with challenging situations and connect with other people. The importance and benefit of these effects during times of marital conflict or stress just cannot be overstated.
In fact, the “bonding” effects of humor are particularly relevant when it comes to resolving a marriage problem and reconnecting as a couple. You’ve heard the expression, the couple that plays together stays together.
Well, as far as I’m concerned, the couple that laughs together lasts together
So learn how to properly stitch-up whatever big wound or injury is causing pain in your marriage. If you’ve been betrayed, or if you’re the one who has broken trust, do what must be done to properly treat and heal the damage. And then when the time is right, apply that stress-relieving, bond-building balm of humor. It can help ensure that, once that wound heals, it doesn’t leave a nasty scar behind. Thank you for reading.
Browse Your Marriage SOS™ Options.
Debra Macleod, BA, JD, is an international marriage expert and the founder of Marriage SOS™. Her no-nonsense style, “Fair, but Aware” approach, and 20+ years of experience have made her a resource for major media around the world, from The New York Times and Entrepreneur to ELLE and Men’s Health.