Y'know, I read somewhere that the best way to preserve a marriage is to laugh together.
Generally, I subscribe to that theory … but on the other hand, I've known a few old grouches who have hung together for lots of years with hardly a chuckle between them.
One of the things I've learned is that it's very important to laugh TOGETHER… and not separately.
For instance, it was definitely not wise for me to laugh all by myself when Phyllis dropped a dozen eggs right after she'd finished scrubbing the kitchen floor.
Similarly, it didn't do our marriage any good when she found it uproariously funny when I located the old septic tank (when we still lived on the farm) by falling through its rotted top.
To be effective for marital longevity, laughter should be a shared experience. As an example, if SHE'D have fallen into the septic tank, too, then we both could have laughed about it.
I spent several years in the U. S. Army Infantry and proved to be a marksman with a rifle. BUT Phyllis found that hard to believe when, after a raccoon had killed most of our chickens and I found it the next day in a new hole I'd prepared for the outhouse. I got out my trusty shotgun and shot at the dang thing and MISSED! Again, I found no humor in that episode as Phyllis doubled over in laughter by herself!
Frankly, I don't think the guy who wrote "Laugh and Love Longer" ever lived on a farm. It's pretty hard to keep up a perpetual ho-ho-ho when the tractor transmission goes out … the sheep jump the fence into the alfalfa … the raccoons feast on your chickens … and it forgets to rain in July and August.
I'm not saying that Phyllis and I have enjoyed one giant laugh fest during our years together. Admittedly I blow my stack every now and then … and her Danish-Norwegian steadfastness … (I'd get in trouble if I called it bullheadedness) manifests itself periodically.
By and large, though, sooner or later we have managed to turn most of our trials and tribulations into varying degrees of titillation. That means, of course, that the laughter comes AFTER the trauma … not during.
Oh, I've got to admit that our family laugh meter registered minus 18 or lower when the basement flooded … the old oil furnace backfired … the machine shed collapsed under a heavy snow … and the day I discovered that our well was empty and our outdoor john was full.
On the other hand, those are the kinds of memories which eventually bring the most snickers in retrospect the farther removed they are from the actual happening.
When it comes right down to it, Phyllis and I don't have comparable senses of humor. Mine is admittedly sort of weird. I go for shaggy dog stuff while she prefers her punch lines without a lot of subtlety. She gets a kick out of current ticklers in the Reader's Digest. I favor the oldies like: Grandpa: "I miss the cuspidor since it's gone." Grandma: "You missed it before … that's why it's gone."
We compromise by laughing at each other's favorite. And a little fakery doesn't hurt now and then. As a result, each day usually has a bright spot or two to overcome the hum-drum.
I have one taboo, however. If Phyllis ever laughs at the clothes I'm wearing, I'm going to bring up the time her banana bread sank in the middle and had all the heft of a shot put.
© 2010 Robert F. Karolevitz