The Simplest Way To Save A Shaky Relationship

rexusa_449800eePhoto: Jim Smeal/BEImages.
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Human beings are social animals. As much as we value independence and our “me” time, our general outlook and day-to-day drive depend a lot on the health of our relationships, both casual and intimate alike. Of course, if you’re in a romantic relationship, that connection carries particular weight when it comes to physical and mental balance and overall happiness.
While there are a wealth of studies that delve into what makes for a successful relationship — is it the quality of the sex? Openness of communication? Finding the right therapist, because lord knows we all could use some professional assistance? — One pretty obvious benchmark often goes overlooked. As Hara Estroff Marano details in her article, The Benefits of Laughter, "Homegrown laughter may be what ailing couples need most. Uniquely human, laughter is, first and foremost, a social signal — it disappears when there is no audience, which may be as small as one other person — and it binds people together. It synchronizes the brains of the speaker and listener so that they are emotionally attuned.”
Not that you should discount the moments when you two share a laugh during a night out at the comedy club or curl up in pajamas to chuckle along to your favorite sitcoms. But, jokes that stem from within the relationship actually feed your bond and nurture “a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people.” The more you’re laughing, the more you’re taking pleasure in one another’s company, for the most part. It’s a useful gauge of how the relationship is going, a great way to defuse anger, and shows you both know how to enjoy yourselves and not take life too seriously.
rexusa_1665108qPhoto: Jim Smeal/BEImages.
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It all comes down to science, as neuroscientist Robert Provine, Ph.D. drolly explains in his work Laughter: A Scientific Investigation. Apart from determining that laughter is one of the basic elements of a healthful, positive emotional relationship, Provine concluded:
1. Laughter is not primarily about humor, but about social relationships.
2. Men are more attracted to women who laugh genuinely in their presence.
3. Women laugh approximately 126% more than men — it’s the males in the relationship who tend to be the laugh-getters. In the same vein, “The laughter of the female is the critical index of a healthy relationship.”
4. Laughter is contagious.
5. As we age, we tend to laugh less in our relationships.
6. If you’re looking to make your mate laugh and show some affection, give ‘em a tickle — it’s one of the best ways to provoke laughter. (Go for the waist and underarms, they’re the most sensitive spots.) As with laughing, we tend to tickle our partners less as we age. However, it’s an important component of play — and foreplay. “[Tickling] triggers sexual excitation in adults.”
So, next time you and your partner are having a fight, or things just feel humdrum, take some advice from Dr. Provine.