I ask longtime couples, “Do you laugh together a lot?” Always, the answer is, “Yes.” That explains why what they have works: Looks and sexual energy may fade. But laughter? It makes everything … new. It melts tension. It melts hard feelings. It melts hearts.
Now Black folks? We know this for sure. We’ve gone through so much that we can’t do anything but laugh. You have a dominoes table, some bid whist, some liquor, some good music and some Black folk? Oh, it’s on. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the hospital visiting the sick and shut-in, at the barbershop or the family reunion: Everybody’s got an opinion and everyone has to signify. And it’s all funny. It’s just in us. And the feeling you get from that? When that’s in your everyday life, with the person you love, you can’t go wrong.
Humor is how my husband, Sal, got my attention. Niecy Nash introduced us at her first “Meet the Browns” (as in meet people with brown skin) party. The men had to bring food; the women brought liquor. I wasn’t there to meet a man; I was going through a divorce. I was there because Niecy serves good food. But I kept hearing this man bragging all loud, “I made this dirty rice. Who is sleeping with me tonight? Because this rice is so good!” It was so funny! He was this big, 6-foot, 6-inch, 300-pound dude, and his sense of humor was just as big. At the end of the night, Niecy said he liked me because I was loud and competitive while we were playing Taboo. At first, I said, “That’s not a compliment!” But when I thought about it, it was because I am loud and funny. That made me look at him twice. After that, I didn’t pay no mind to the suave El DeBarge-looking physical trainer who came to the party. No one did. He was fine as all get out, but he was no fun.
Sal and I, we laugh all the time. Humor keeps our relationship strong. You’re going to go through some of the worst days with the person you love. Laughing is a stress reliever. Some days, Sal will do something to get on my nerves, and Lord knows I want to stay mad at that man. But then he makes me laugh, and it’s like he’s preparing the way for us to be better to one another. That’s what laughter does for our relationship.
Laughing doesn’t magically make problems go away—know that. There will be stress related to bills, work, kids and drama. But humor smoothes it over just a little bit; makes it so you can sit back and breathe. After you’ve had a good belly laugh, your heart softens, and you can say, “How can we make this work as a team?” It helps you refocus on what’s important and know that it’s not all bad. It’s hard to go from laughing to, “That’s it. I’m walking out this door.”
5 Ways To Be Funny With Your Honey
Graduates, you don’t need to be a Chris Rock or a Sherri Shepherd to reap the joys of a chuckle with your partner or date. Let me share what I’ve learned:
1 Cultivate positivity. Thank the Lord for your blessings. Even if all you did today was open your eyes and wiggle your hands and feet, that’s a blessing.
2 Be present in the moment. Pay attention to your partner and what’s going on around you both. You’ll naturally start to notice what’s amusing and share it.
3 Become comfortable making fun of yourself. Not in a low-self-esteem kind of way, but in a way that says, “Hey, I can laugh at myself.” I once fell down on a rail-less staircase at Garcelle Beauvais’ house in front of everybody. I was embarrassed, but I laughed and said, “Yes, I think I broke my wrist. I’m just going to lie here until three or five fine men lift me up off this rich girl’s stairs with no daggone rails.” A joke can put everyone at ease.
4 If she’s self-conscious about her butt, don’t make it the butt of your joke. Sal’s humor can have a bite to it. I remember one time I had lost weight. You know when you lose three pounds you think you can fit into a size 6 jeans, no matter that everything is hanging out. You think you’re about it. And Sal made this face, like, “Ugh, what’s going on with that?” And I just crumbled. I ran into the bathroom crying, and he was like, “What did I do?” When I pulled myself together, I said, “I know I shouldn’t have put those jeans on, but you hurt my feelings because I’m vulnerable in this area.” He understood. Sal now knows to check the sarcasm when it comes to my weight. He’s still funny, but he wraps it in a little love for me.
5 Smile. A smile chisels away at the walls we put up, signaling, “It’s OK. You can come in.” Next thing you know, the person you’re interested in is smiling, too. They got the signal that they should keep trying. That one smile? Works out 20 percent of your problems, whether you’re getting to know someone or you’re in a relationship. Put a smile on your face and laugh. That spirit jumps off you and onto the person you love. I’m telling you, your honey will appreciate it.