It’s said that laughter is the best medicine, but the latest scientific research suggests that a chuckle could be so much more than a fabulous mood lifter – it might even hold the key to lasting love.
A study by love psychologists at the University of North Carolina studied 77 heterosexual couples who had been in a relationship for an average of four years. Asking them to relay the story of their first meeting, they recorded the frequency and length of their laughter as they recalled the encounter and its aftermath.
They then asked them to fill in a questionnaire about their relationship. The results were unequivocal: those couples who laughed most and for longest reported being closer to their partner, feeling more supported in their relationship, and generally rated their partnership as higher quality that those who laughed less. And in contrast, “awkward chuckles, stunted grins and fake guffaws all are flags that there may be something amiss,” said researcher Laura Kurtz.
“Moments of shared laughter are potent for a relationship. They bring a couple closer together,” she said.
“We can all think of a time when we were laughing and the person next to us just sat there totally silent,” she continues. “All of a sudden that one moment takes a nosedive. We wonder why the other person isn’t laughing, what’s wrong with them, or maybe what’s wrong with us and what might that mean for our relationship.”
The researchers didn’t say whether shared laughter is something the partners reported experiencing from the early days of their relationship, or whether it’s something that developed as they came to know one another. While it’s great if couples ‘get’ one another’s senses of humour from date one, sometimes nerves can get the better. So all is not lost if those early coffees or cocktails aren’t a laugh a minute, but as things wear on and you become more comfortable with one another, plentiful giggles could be a good sign that you’re headed for something lovely.
In the course of the study to determine the effect of laughter on relationships, the researchers also stumbled across some incidental yet fascinating facts about the chuckle.
Namely that while women laugh more than men, men’s laughs are more contagious. In fact, when men laugh they are 1.73 times more likely to make their partner laugh than the other way around.
And there are culture differences in the way we laugh. While those in the western world enjoy a hearty, toothy guffaw, easterners are more likely to keep their mouths closed when they giggle.
Just one word of warning for happy couples: there is a time and a place for roaring with laughter, and during your wedding vows is not one of them! While it may indicate that you and your loved one are destined for a long and happy life together, you run the risk of seriously irritating your registrar! Watch as this bride completely loses it after her nervous and emotional husband puts the ring on the wrong finger and “awfully” messes up his lines…