where should i begin?

Okay, so there are many different ways to begin this blog. I could talk about relationships that work or that don't work, relationships that are just beginning or relationships that have stood the test of time, or even relationships that are happy and full of bliss or relationships that are conflict-ridden and full of criticism. Surprisingly, I'm not going to do any of that. No sir. Instead of starting this blog by throwing a bunch of research findings and advice about relationships in your face (don't worry, that will happen soon enough), I've decided to dedicate my first post to a relationship that I've admired my entire life: my parents.

I'll begin with some history. My mom and dad were both born and raised in Washington, D.C. They both lived and hung out as teenagers on MacArthur Blvd, and through out my entire life, always talked about people they knew "from the boulevard." My dad, an automotive bodyman and car enthusiast, and my mom, a long-haired, beautiful, high school student, fell in love in the early 1970s and were married in Silver Spring, MD in 1976. A couple of years later, they bought their first home in Adelphi, MD where they raised their two daughters, me and my sister Meghan.

Growing up, I always knew that my parents were soul mates. From the way my mom would watch her animated husband tell a story, to my dad's desire to always tell his wife that he loved her, to the way that they bickered in the car about who really made them late, I always knew that they were meant to be together. So, what was their secret? They were best friends who took the time to laugh. That's it.

That was their secret (well, let’s be serious, they each had many relationship skills that they developed and utilized for over 30 years, but this skill was particularly prevalent to me). Whether my parents were arguing about their budget, sharing their deepest feelings and thoughts, or just talking about their day, they were always talking, and more importantly, always laughing. Laughing was very important in our house.

My dad, a hilarious story-teller who laughed at his own jokes, and my mom, an amazing listener who has been known to laugh until she cries, spent hours actually enjoying each other’s company. They could laugh about anything. While my dad was the main joke-teller, my mom would tease my dad about all of his little quirks, which also tended to be quite amusing. They laughed when they were celebrating, they laughed at the end of an argument, and they even laughed when my dad became terminally ill. Once my father knew that his life was going to end, he and my mom decided to write his eulogy, together. Even during his final days on earth, my dad managed to make his eulogy really funny. To additionally honor him, and all that he stood for, my mom invited friends and family to share funny stories they had about my dad at his memorial service in 2006. So, even in his passing, my mom was laughing. Laughing got them through many tough times in their lives. It helped them grow closer as a couple, it gave them an excuse to be silly, and it showed them what was truly important in life.

What have I learned from my parents' relationship? I've learned that life is too short for it to be serious all of the time, that I should always take time out of everyday to laugh with the people I love, and that you can never tell someone that you love them too much. So, mom, dad, thank you for showing me how two people can be happy for over 30 years just enjoying each other's company.

For more information about the effects of laughter on relationship satisfaction, see the following research articles:

  • Bazzini, D. G., Stack, E. R., Martincin, P. D., & Davis, C. P. (2007). The effects of reminiscing about laughter on relationship satisfaction. Motivation and Emotion, 31, 25- 34.
  • Lauer, R. Lauer, J., & Kerr, S. T. (1990). The long-term marriage: Perceptions of stability and satisfaction. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 30, 189- 195.
  • Ziv, A. (1988). Humor's role in married life. Humor, 1, 223- 229.
  • Ziv, A., & Gadish, O. (1989). Humor in marital satisfaction. The Journal of Social Psychology, 129, 759- 768.

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