A baby's life depends on you.
Today, an expectant mother faces a life-and-death decision. Will you help save her baby’s life? Double your gift to spare mothers and babies from abortion and become 1 of our 710 donors urgently needed today.
Save a child's life

Rescue 2x the babies from abortion!

Yes, I'd like to become
1 of 710 donors needed TODAY
to save TWICE the babies!
$
FOTF-Logo-Stretch-Color.png
Search

Focus on the Family Broadcast

Bringing Laughter to Your Marriage

Bringing Laughter to Your Marriage

On this lighthearted broadcast, Pastor Ted Cunningham shares humorous stories from life with his spouse to illustrate how laughter is a key component for a thriving and lasting marriage. He explores the emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits of laughter, and encourages listeners to discover their "humor muscle" and flex it on a daily basis.
Original Air Date: February 18, 2020

Preview:

Ted Cunningham: It is something you can get better at, starts with the decision that I’m gonna lighten up. I’m not gonna take myself so seriously. There are gonna be times in this relationship we need to be dead serious, but, just like date night or an annual abandon, we need to bring the joy into it. So we go through clearly all the mental and physical and emotional benefits of this, and then end with the spiritual.

End Of Preview

John Fuller: Well, that’s Ted Cunningham and he’s with us today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Hey, John. Here’s a revelation. Here at Focus on the Family, we love marriage.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: (laughs). I mean, I hope that’s obvious to everybody. It’s foundational, uh, to the family, of course, and we believe it’s a gift from God.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Uh, in fact, that’s one reason why we talk so much about marriage here on the program. We want to equip you, to help you have the best marriage you can have. A marriage that’s thriving, as we say, thriving in Christ, regardless of what season of life you’re in. As a newly married, uh, God bless you, (laughs), or as a couple that’s been married 40, 50 years, uh, there are still things to learn.

John: Hmm.

Jim: And I know that’s true in my life and I’ve been married over 30 years, but every day I’m thinking, “Ooh, I could have done that better or said that better.”

John: (laughs).

Jim: But one of the great ingredients that I have enjoyed in, in my marriage with Jean is, being able to bring humor into it. It doesn’t always work-

John: No.

Jim: … and I failed at it.

John: (laughs).

Jim: Uh, but today we wanna help you brush up on those comedy skills, (laughs), and not for an audience of many, but for an audience of one, your spouse. And we’ve invited one of our favorite guests here today, pastor and all around, funny guy Ted Cunningham, to help us with this.

John: And you’ll laugh along the way, I hope. As we talk to Ted, he is the Founding Pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church, in Branson, Missouri.

Jim: (laughs).

John: He was, I, I, I am not familiar with this term. Can you describe Headlining Comedy Act? What does that mean?

Jim: (laughs).

John: Were you like-

Ted: You’re the first one to use that, so, I don’t know.

Jim: (laughs).

John: Okay. Well, it’s in my script here from our producer, so I’ll just go with it.

Ted: (laughing).

John: Headlining Comedy Act for the Date Night Comedy tour. He’s also the author of A Love That Laughs, which is a brand new book that Focus on the Family is, uh, putting out.

Jim: Oh, that’s great.

John: It is. And most of the material I understand for the book came from Ted’s marriage to his wife Amy. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but-

Jim: (laughs) Well, there you go. I think he just slammed you. (laughing).

Ted: I, I don’t know. I don’t know.

Jim: Hey Ted, welcome to Focus, by the way. (laughs).

Ted: Hey, you know, I’m not just a guest, I am a listener of this broadcast.

Jim: You, oh, that’s so much fun.

Ted: And I love, I love following y’all. And-

Jim: Alright. So you and Amy, how long have you been married now?

Ted: 23 years.

Jim: Wow that’s good. And you’re still laughing?

Ted: Still laughing. Laughing more today-

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: … than we did in the first 10, first 20.

Jim: That is so good. Uh, early in your marriage you had to find that, uh, fun way though of communicating, right?

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And how did that, how did that come about? I don’t see you as a serious guy, even years ago, you’re probably pretty funny.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: Did, did Amy ever go, “Can you just stop?”

Ted: (laughing).

Jim: “Just stop. Stop being silly.”

Ted: And, you know, sometimes people come up to her at events and they’ll say, “Is he like this all the time at home?”

Jim: That’s exhausting.

Ted: “Does he always tell jokes?”

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: I’m not telling jokes to my wife all the time, like, “Hey, have you heard this one?”

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: No, it’s, it’s finding the humor in everyday life.

John: Mm-hmm.

Ted: That’s the emphasis of the book, is, to be observational in our humor. And so, you don’t have to be a funny guy, uh, a funny lady. You don’t have to be a comedian, to find the humor in life for your marriage.

Jim: Okay. That right there though, I did wanna hit that, and we might as well hit it early, because temperaments play into this.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And you’re an extrovert, you can see that. You, you do have a lens in which you see the world with a bit of humor, you know?

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: I known you long enough to know that when something goes badly for you, you tend to find something funny in it.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: I, I tend to be that way too. But not everybody’s wired that way. Some people are very serious about life.

Ted: Absolutely. And there’s a time and a place for it. So it’s, I don’t find the funny in every single thing that happens to us. But as we introduce in the book, I want a laughter to conflict ratio that laughter’s a hundred to, to one. I, and Amy’s the one that gave us that first ratio, when I asked her, “If you were to compare our laughs to our conflict, what would you, what would the ratio be?” And she didn’t even, she gives answers quick in our marriage.

Jim: Wow.

Ted: She already has answers. And she said a hundred to one.

Jim: Well, it’s a good place to say, why?”

Ted: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Why is there benefit to that? Again, I’m thinking of the dower person that’s going, “Right. Laughter. It’s waste, a waste of time. Come on.”

Ted: Yeah. And from research we know, children laugh more than adults. Uh, some research tells us children laugh on average 150 times a day to an adult six times a day.

John: Hmm.

Jim: So you think Jesus had an insight there when he said, “Don’t suffer the kids to come to me-

Ted: Hmm.

Jim: … and if, if you’re not like a child-

Ted: And He grew indignant when people-

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: … kept the children from Him. I think, when we are talking about laughter in marriage, it is truly a choice. It’s something you have to look for. Whatever your personality, whatever your temperament, you have to make the decision to today we’re gonna laugh. You get to the end of the day and you haven’t laughed much, you need to ask why? ‘Cause laughter’s a barometer of your marriage as well. If, if we’re not laughing and enjoying life together, stop, pause, ask the question why?

Jim: Okay. Let me, let me get your best argument for this and then we’re gonna move to some examples, which are funny.

Ted: Sure.

Jim: But, uh, for that person that’s saying, “You know what? It just, you know, it doesn’t come easy to me.” I, I hate to blast the engineer mind.

Ted: (laughs).

Jim: And I, I know I’m gonna hear from people that say, “Hey, I’m funny and I’m an engineer,” I get that. But methodic planning people, engineering people, process people, tend to look at things with, you know, maybe less humor. And again, d-don’t (laughs) d-don’t-

Ted: No, I know what saying.

Jim: … I know that there are exceptions to this, but generally, I’m going back to the makeup and the temperament. So, tell me again, why? Why do I need to, to, to laugh? It seems frivolous to me.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And I don’t know that the Lord would be laughing at these things.

Ted: (laughs).

Jim: I mean, seriously, right?

Ted: I just wish people could see your face right now.

John: (laughing).

Ted: You just, you got, you got that scowl. My wife, when we started this book, she said, “Make sure it is early on that you make it clear to everyone, I am not a comedian, I don’t tell jokes.” In 23 years of marriage, she’s maybe told one or two jokes. It’s just not who she is. She’s more of a serious, uh, person by nature, and she, you know, looks into every detail of life. She’s into her environment. And so, she’s grateful that we’ve made humor a priority in our marriage. And so I, believe it or not, I always start with Ecclesiastes 7, when it talks about, “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death is better than the day of birth.” And you’re like, “Why would you start with a funeral to talk about laughter?”

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: Because you read, “It’s better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting.” Meaning, when you go to a funeral, that’s a recalibrating event. You’re learning about life and you should be asking questions about how you’re living.

Jim: Hmm.

Ted: How are you honoring other people? Uh, and yet when you go to a party, that’s a completely different purpose behind it. And that’s why the scripture says, “Sorrow is better than laughter.” Well, because sorrow is a teacher. But it doesn’t say, sorrow is good, laughter is bad, it’s just laughter has its place.

Jim: Hmm.

Ted: And so laughter, a cheerful heart is good medicine. And what I love about humor and laughter and marriage is, it’s not only a good medicine, but it helps other medicines go down.

Jim: (laughs). I like that.

Ted: So we can learn a lot in the process. And people describe my teaching at church or at conferences and seminars as, um, “Yeah, you, you get us laughing and then you just hit us with something. And we, we weren’t expecting it.”

Jim: Right.

Ted: “We double over and with laughter, you kinda pick us back up and you give us a hug and then, bam, right, right there again, you’re like, oh, what? It’s like, we just got shot.”

Jim: It’s very effective.

Ted: Yeah. Because, laughter is a great tool. Humor is a great way that we can express ourselves-

Jim: Hmm.

Ted: … through, through difficult and challenging times.

Jim: All right. You’ve answered that. Um, let’s go back to you and Amy and your differences. Um, I think New York, you had something going on in a New York restaurant, (laughs), which is an example of how to manage some things.

Ted: So I was, I was born in the corn fields outside of Chicago, Illinois, Northern Illinois.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: And so, my favorite meal was meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn. And then-

Jim: I’m with you.

Ted: … take, I, that’s just, I can eat that every day. My wife is a foodie. So the first time she took us to, (laughs), a foodie restaurant, and you know what I mean by foodie, it means, you’re gonna spend some money and you’re gonna need a snack when you leave.

Jim: (laughs).

John: It’s a small plate of food for a lot of money.

Ted: You’re, you, you’re not gonna leave full. And so I already had all sorts of attitude going into it. But one of the things I love about humor is, you can enjoy your spouse’s activity, (laughs), or hobby, without actually enjoying your spouse’s activity or hobby.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: Because, you’re having fun along the way.

Jim: Right.

Ted: We walked into this restaurant, and I, I don’t make up one word of this. The waiter comes over with a plank, like a, a cedar plank, and he’s got a mint leaf sticking out of both sides of it. And I look at Amy, I said, “Is that the salad? Is this where we’re starting with this thing?”

Jim: (laughing). One piece of-

John: Yes.

Ted: And this waiter deadpan, I mean, he’s as serious as can be. (laughs). He says, “No, the chef picked this earlier today in New Jersey.” Like, I’m supposed to be impressed with New Jersey.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: Man. I don’t know what New Jersey meant.

John: New Jersey produce is worldwide-

Jim: It is the guardian state. (laughing).

Ted: Or I must. I must. But he was very proud of where they got the mint. And he said, “The chef recommends that you rub this over your lips-

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: … and under your nose and on your chin.” I am rolling my eyes at Amy.

Jim: And you’re in a restaurant.

Ted: And I’m in a restaurant. And he’s not joking.

Jim: Yes.

Ted: He wants us to prepare ourselves by cleaning our face with this mint.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: And I look over at my wife, she’s chuckling because she knows what I’m thinking, which is, that’s the fun part of being married a long time.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: You don’t, you don’t even have to have conversation and you can laugh because you know how your spouse is processing something.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: My wife’s fully into it. She is rubbing this leaf all over her lips and under her nose and fully into it.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: And I told the guy, I said, “You know where I’m from, we grew a lot of produce. We just never once thought about rubbing it on our faces.”

Jim: (laughing).

Ted: “And I think, if a husband and wife are gonna, you know, be rubbing produce on their faces, this is something we should have some, a little bit of privacy for. I’m gonna need you to back away from this one a little bit, buddy.”

Jim: (laughing).

Ted: And, uh, he stood there. I wore that mint leaf out. I rubbed it everywhere.

Jim: (laughing).

Ted: I was, I was giving, and he was, he knew I was not appreciating it. But that, those are those moments. Like, I’ve only had one massage in my life. My wife loves massages. We were at an event and, and I, I’m just gonna say we were in California.

Jim: (laughing).

Ted: So the, the, the event gifted us a couple’s massage, and I hated every single minute of that 60 minute massage.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: I felt violated and uncomfortable. I didn’t like anything. And the entire time, coming from underneath the other table, this was all I heard from my wife, (laughing) ’cause she knew. We didn’t have to say a word, but she was laughing and having a good time because she knew I was miserable through the whole thing.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: And that’s what I love about humor in marriage.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: It’s, like Amy doesn’t even have to be here right now, and I can tell you completely, you throw any scenario at me, I can tell you how she’s gonna react to it.

Jim: But you-

Ted: And that’s where you find the fun.

Jim: … you know, Ted, again, some married couples that may not go down as well.

Ted: Right.

Jim: And I wanna explore that a little bit where, even in that scenario, you know, the wife’s chuckling ’cause she knows and the husband’s getting mad, not f- he’s not laughing about it. It’s like-

Ted: Yeah. And we’re not talking-

Jim: … “Why would you put me in this position?”

Ted: … we’re not talking about humor that’s biting, we’re not talking about humor that’s, uh, sarcastic that’s like tearing of the flesh.

John: Oh, I was gonna ask about that. Yeah.

Ted: We’re not talking about mean, uh, hurtful, constantly ribbing, it’s that lightheartedness that I just see missing in so many marriages. And I, I’ll be honest with you, I think, most couples start off lighthearted.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: You know, I, I listen to your broadcast, I hear a lot of great stories of couples early on, but then something happens. And I think that’s something that happens is drift.

Jim: Right.

Ted: They drift away. It was natural. We say this often in, in marriage teaching. It was natural early in the relationship, but you drifted away from it. And all you need to do to make it natural again, is become intentional. What was natural, you now need to be intentional with 10, 20, 30 years in. And if you become intentional, it can become natural again, to where it’s just the ebb and flow of your daily life as a couple. And that’s the goal of this point.

Jim: Right. So if you’re listening and you’re, you’re really struggling here, chill out, just give it a try.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And let’s listen to some of the ways you can apply that. Uh, it leads us to what you’re calling the callback. Now, I’ve never heard this term before, but in the book you described the callback. What is it?

Ted: Okay. So the callback is, why you love your favorite comedians because, and you, you’ve heard the callback a lot, you just didn’t know that the name of it. ‘Cause the callback is when, there’s a punchline earlier in a set and he brings it back up or she brings it back up off of a different story or a different premise. It usually gets a bigger laugh, ’cause you didn’t see it coming, but it just… ‘Cause what comedy is, it’s the jostling of the brain.

Jim: Right.

Ted: It’s the shocking of the brain. Like, “I didn’t see that, that one coming.” So for Amy and I, that New York restaurant, I’m not leaving that restaurant without a callback. And now my callback is, whenever we’re at my favorite restaurant, which is Le Cracker Barrel.

Jim: (laughs). You take a lettuce leaf.

Ted: I take Broccoli off her plate and start rubbing it on my cheek.

John: Yes.

Jim: Yeah. (laughing).

Ted: And we have a laugh from something that happened six years ago.

Jim: (laughs).

John: Yeah.

Ted: And that’s why in the book, we get, we, we want couples to figure out what their callbacks are, write ’em down at the end, uh, put ’em in that journal, so that you can keep going back to ’em. And you might call ’em an inside joke, but they’re, they’re the callbacks. And we have so many callbacks in our marriage. Taking everything that’s irritating, frustrating, annoying, that, that would just usually grate on us, and we just… The key with all of this is, we’ve made the decision, we’re going to enjoy life together.

Jim: Enjoy life.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: That’s what I like about that.

Ted: You have to make the decision. And, and I just wanna put this out there first, because if a couple comes into my office and conflict, if they’re, if they’re in need of Hope Restored and I need to send them to a marriage intensive, I, I’m not teaching them how to be funny with each other in that moment.

Jim: Right. Exactly.

Ted: And I’m not teaching them to tell jokes and all that. But after they go through the marriage intensive, which is what we hear from couples coming out of the marriage intensive years later, we’re experiencing levels of marital satisfaction, we never dreamed possible-

John: Right.

Ted: … then it’s at that point you begin to teach them how not to get back into the drift.

Jim: Yes.

Ted: That, that took you into that.

John: Mm-hmm.

Ted: And that’s when I would begin teaching that couple, quality couple time, enjoying life together, and bringing more humor into your marriage.

Jim: Right. Then it plays a role.

John: Hmm.

Ted: Exactly.

Jim: Hey Ted, I want to hit the benefits of laughter.

Ted: Hmm.

Jim: ‘Cause again, for the scientists in the audience, (laughs)-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … tell me why? What’s the benefit of laughter?

Ted: Ooh.

Jim: Hit it. It’s quite expansive.

Ted: Well, yeah. And, and you mentioned the engineers, uh, they’re gonna love chapter two, which is 38 benefits of laughter.

Jim: Right.

Ted: Yeah. And to see the purpose-

Jim: What are they?

Ted: Well, the, the mental, the physical, the emotional, the relational, and then I end that list with, the spiritual, the spiritual benefits. Uh, the most, most research went into that chapter, uh, of the book. But we, we just talk about how it manages stress. And you can work through difficult situations and conversations, like we just have already really talked about.

Jim: Uh-huh.

Ted: But it bonds us, it eases tension, diffuses anger, it lightens the mood. I, I mean, and I go all the way through it, it even makes you more attractive. You know, I tell the guys-

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: … I tell the young guys in our church who feel like, “Man, I’m never gonna find a woman.” Well, you don’t need, you know, the, the face of Brad Pitt, the body of The Rock or the-

Jim: That’s good to hear. (laughs).

Ted: … attitude Tony Stark, you, well, you need a paycheck, and a few jokes.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: That’s why I tell the guys in our church all the time, “You just need a paycheck and a few jokes.” But, women find men with a sense of humor attractive.

John: Mm-hmm.

Ted: And you’re like, “Well, I don’t have a sense of humor.” Well, that’s why we talk about these benefits, ’cause it’s something you can work on.

Jim: Right.

Ted: It is something you can get better at. It starts with the decision, that I’m gonna lighten up, I’m not gonna take myself so seriously. There are gonna be times in this relationship we need to be dead serious. But, just like date night-

John: Mm-hmm.

Ted: … or an annual abandon, we need to bring the joy into it. So we go through clearly all the mental and physical and emotional benefits of this, and then end with the spiritual. I, I, I love it.

Jim: Which is good.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, that should be convincing right there. What’s the difference between choosing and pursuing laughter rather than just waiting for it to happen? How can we choose laughter?

Ted: Well, I’ve always been gripped with Scott Stanley’s definition of choice, of choosing, when he says, “Decisions have power.” And I love that because, we talk about decisions all the time. You need to make decisions so, this is one of those decisions, a choice that you make. And it has power when we’ve decided. And now, that’s the decision. But then the pursuing is, we’re looking for it all day long. We’re finding the opportunities. I can tell you, me laughing six times a day, if that’s the average adult laughter, that is not for me, that is not for my home, that is not-

Jim: That’s underachieving for you.

Ted: Oh, that’s way underachieving.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: I want, if, I don’t, if I get to lunch and I’ve only laughed six times, I don’t think I’m pursuing it.

Jim: Now that seems like a high bar, all of a sudden.

Ted: You’ve laughed 30 or 40 times already today, Jim.

Jim: (laughs). Well, I’m just saying for the person that, that it doesn’t come naturally, that could sound really overwhelming now.

Ted: It-

Jim: Wow, six times before lunch?

Ted: (laughs).

Jim: And that’s low? Now you’ve intimidated me.

Ted: Yeah. And I know there are jobs that, that are serious and you’re not cracking jokes. And I, I just want people to get, the emphasis of this book is not joke writing, the emphasis of this book is finding joy, humor.

Jim: It’s your heart.

Ted: Yeah. And looking for lighthearted moments throughout the day. We find it in our kids, we find it in our marriage, we can find it in our jobs. We can find it at the DMV, we can find it while driving.

Jim: Okay. So somebody who’s not had a high degree of humor in their marriage and they’re saying, “Okay. I heard Ted Cunningham today on Focus on the Family. I’m gonna, I’m gonna go for it tonight. (laughs). And then boom, their humor just bombs. And now they, they may give up, but what would be your encouragement to the person who’s attempting humor in their marriage, but it’s not landing right?

Ted: It, it’s, if, so, we’ve already talked about timing, but if, I, I give some low hanging fruit for humor and laughter, and I think singing and dancing are the lowest-

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: … the lowest forms of comedy. Because, people will say the same thing, “Well, I’m not good at singing.” Well, that’s the point.

Jim: Right. That’s what’s funny.

Ted: Okay. “I, I, I can’t, I don’t have rhythm, I can’t, I can’t dance,” well, that’s the point, right? Commitment is everything. I’ll walk off stage after I, I hear a comedian bomb and they’ll go, “Man, what happened?” I go, “The problem was you weren’t committed to the joke.”

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: “And when you’re not committed to it, the person receiving is not gonna be committed to it.” We’ve all seen comedians give up on stage and be like, “Oh man, if they weren’t into it, I’m not gonna be into it.” So I think the person who hasn’t pursued humor or hasn’t made the decision to pursue it, they, they just haven’t been working that muscle.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ted: They just gotta get into a point-

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: … where they’re committed to it and trying and attempting, and this is a big important part. I cover this in the book over actually a couple pages. So there’s physical benefits to laughter, we all know that. You breathe in oxygen-

Jim: Yeah.

John: Endorphins.

Ted: … rich air. Vanderbilt University says-

John: Yeah.

Ted: … you know, you can burn, uh, up to 40 calories with 10 to 15 minutes of belly laughing. That’s why I say, so don’t go work out just-

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: … help each other laugh. And this is the cool part. Your body cannot tell the difference between fake and real laughter. So, I tell wives, “When your husband’s attempting it, fake it.” Right?

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: Laugh. Like, “Just fake the laughter, m- pursue it.”

Jim: (laughing).

Ted: And, and this is key. It, it’ll, it’ll catch on. Uh, MD Anderson, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, um, uh, the, the Mayo Clinic, they have laughter therapy. They’re not saying that laughter heals the body, but they know laughter is a great way to help people through the treatments.

Jim: Hmm.

Ted: And one of the things they do is they just sit around in circles and they fake laugh.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: Okay. But that-

Jim: You gotta get this on video.

Ted: … that fake laughter, can turn into real laughter.

John: Right.

Ted: But just like a yawn, laughter’s contagious.

Jim: Well, it will.

Ted: And you watch somebody fake laughing and you’re like, “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” and it starts to trigger something in you.

Jim: Well, one of the things, and people are gonna be shocked, but I mean, when the boys and Jean and I are praying, you know, we’re getting gathered, we do a little devotion or something, and then we’re about to pray, certainly, one of the three guys, it’s never mom. It’s either me or Trent or Troy, we start giggling about something.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: ‘Cause something is funny.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, it’s even the, the ritual sometimes can be quite funny, the way we approach it.

Ted: Oh.

Jim: And so one of us will start giggling and it gets the other two of us giggling.

Ted: It’s contagious. Yeah.

Jim: Mama’s not giggling so much, (laughs)-

Ted: No.

Jim: … ’cause, “This is time before the Lord.”

Ted: (laughing).

Jim: I mean, it’s like, like, but we can’t help it.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And then we, “Okay. Yeah. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Let me try again.” Dear, (laughs)-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … there we go.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And it’s just so funny, but it’s, there’s nothing really funny what’s going on with that? It’s like spontaneous.

Ted: Yeah. And when you watch a movie and something strikes you as funny, but doesn’t strike your spouse as funny-

Jim: Right.

Ted: … and you get to giggling. There’s been more times in movies where I start laughing at my wife laughing.

Jim: Right.

Ted: And that even becomes a, a callback of sorts, because you get in the car later and she’ll think about it. She’ll be falling asleep-

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: … and she’ll think about that and start laughing, and I just start laughing because she’s laughing. This is the power of how God created us. This laughter, this joy. That’s why I just, I, that’s why Paul says, “Rejoice. I’ll say it again. Rejoice.” I mean, these are decisions that we make-

Jim: There’s, but there’s something in there about vulnerability. It struck me a moment ago when you were talking about it, the ability to, to sing and dance.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: Okay. There’s a vulnerability in doing that.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And you’ve gotta be a little emptied of your ego, to put yourself in a silly position. Which again, is why I think the Lord loves it.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: ‘Cause it, it kind of humbles you-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … when you’re not taking yourself so seriously all the time.

Ted: Yeah. And I tell, I tell guys this, that they do not have a sense of humor and they’re wanting to figure out how to bring more humor into their marriage, and I tell ’em, “All right. I just want you to pick one of her favorite songs and sing it to her.” They’re like, “Oh, while at dinner, like across the table?”

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: “No, no, no. In the car while driving, ’cause now you have another activity to focus on.” This always helps. This diffuses a guy-

Jim: And maybe, maybe some background music that’ll help you. (laughs).

Ted: That you’re almost, yeah, it’s just, it’s like, karaoke in the car, and you’ve got the overhead lights that I use as spotlight.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: So when it’s my turn to sing, I put the spotlight on me and then I turn it off and put it on Amy. There’s all sorts of ways that you can do this in what I call, again, that low hanging fruit, to just make the attempt. And I always tell the spouses, even, even with apologies, even if the words aren’t coming out right, but you know the heart is there, receive it. I say the same thing with humor and laughter. If your spouse is making the attempt, that deserves recognition.

Jim: Exactly. Right.

John: Mm-hmm.

Ted: That deserves a, a fake laugh, if that’s all you can come up with.

John: This is where my girls in particular have watched us interact and they’re like, “Mom, he’s just telling you the weather and you’re laughing about it. What is it with that?” But we’ve chosen to, to do that very thing just to encourage each other and to find the humor-

Ted: Yeah.

John: … in some of the silliest things.

Ted: Yeah.

John: And I, I hope that they catch that and go into marriage-

Ted: Absolutely.

John: … looking for a guy that’s gonna make them laugh.

Ted: Absolutely. And, and so we talk about this in the book, when you get married, there’s also this shared sense of humor that you have to develop. And that’s a whole ‘nother level that I enjoy that, again, we, we don’t even have to be talking and we can see something, and she knows what I’m thinking and I know what she’s thinking.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: And the laughter starts. And, and that’s that shared sense of humor that you get with the oneness of marriage.

John: Mm-hmm.

Ted: And you grow into overtime. And that’s what I wanna encourage young couples with. If the joy and the fun and that which was natural early in the relationship, don’t drift from that. You have to make what we’re talking about right now intentional.

John: Mm-hmm.

Ted: And so you have to find ways. Like, for Amy and I, we don’t watch heavy movies.

Jim: Right.

Ted: We, we really don’t. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with dramas or anything like that, but, our life is serious enough with some of the issues we deal with on a regular basis, it can be quite stressful. Uh, and so, we kinda make sure we’re watching movies that make us laugh and, and just, I, I just, I consider ’em free laughs.

Jim: No, that’s good.

Ted: Even though you’re paying for a, a movie ticket. But, I mean, I consider, it’s not anything I’m working for-

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: … you know, it’s now there and we’re able to. And, and some of the humor in our marriage is, bringing stuff from the screen, into our marriage. You know, like I always joke with their, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but all of these couples that you know, don’t have jobs and their cuddling in $5 million apartments in New York City, I always have to remind her-

Jim: (laughs).

Ted: …. “I would stay home Amy and cuddle with you all day-

Jim: Yeah. ‘Cause I can’t afford to go out. (laughs).

Ted: … but I’ve got a job. I got a job.” Okay. I can’t do what we see. (laughs). And I’ll say that to her in a movie. When she sees something happen and I’ll be like, “You know we, we can’t do that, right?”

Jim: (laughing).

Ted: And, and she’s like, “Why?” I go, ” ‘Cause we have jobs. Okay. We gotta actually go out.”

Jim: And we’ve got kids and we’ve got this and that.

Ted: And we’ve got kids.

Jim: Well Ted, your book is, uh, just full of great laughing activities and we can do this with our spouses. So, uh, start, uh, by bringing more laughter into your marriage. That’s a, a very inexpensive way. It’s a lot cheaper than counseling right now.

Ted: Hmm.

Jim: If you’re in that place where you need counseling, don’t get me wrong, you need to get serious about that. But if you’re just in the normal doldrums of life and marriage seems to be more drier than you remembered it in the beginning, try and introducing again, uh, more humor into your relationship, never at someone’s expense, but with them.

Ted: Never. Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: And Ted, you’ve done a great job.

Ted: We’re not laughing at you, we’re, we’re laughing with you.

Jim: That’s right. (laughs).

John: Well, that was Ted Cunningham today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daley, talking about the importance of humor and laughter in marriage. And those really are crucial components to a healthy relationship.

Jim: They are. As long as those jokes aren’t at your spouse’s expense, uh, like we were saying there at the end of the program-

John: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jim: … you have to find ways to laugh and enjoy life together. And this is why Focus on the Family exists. We want to help you have the best marriage possible. That’s why we create programs like this one. Uh, we want to give you tools and resources to make your marriage strong and thriving. Uh, one of those great resources is Ted’s book, A Love That Laughs: Lighten Up, Cut Loose and Enjoy Life Together, uh, we have that here at the ministry. In fact, when you donate today, a gift of any amount, we’ll send it to you as our way of saying, thank you for supporting the work of Focus on the Family, and helping couples just like you. And let me encourage you to consider becoming a monthly sustainer. That means, giving on a monthly basis. As a friend to Focus on the Family, your steady support really does allow us, to have a, a steadier impact on families. When you give to Focus, you help us provide answers and hope to those who need it. Couples on the brink of divorce, parents who are stressed out and worried about their children, uh, families who just need that encouragement to keep going. If you aren’t already giving monthly, join our membership drive. We’ve set a goal of finding a thousand people, to join the community of monthly sustainers, who care deeply about families just like yours. And let me say, ahead of time, thank you for joining us.

John: Yeah. Become a friend of Focus on the Family, and request your copy of Ted Cunningham’s great book, A Love That Laughs. Uh, we’ve got all the details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or call 800 the letter A and the word FAMILY. Uh, that’s 800-232-6459.

Jim: Yeah.

John: Well, coming up next time, Kevin Thompson offers insight on how you can reduce stress in your life.

Kevin Thompson: For so many of us, so often what we do, is we deny what’s ours, we try to control what’s theirs, and we fight about what’s God’s.

John: Yeah.

Kevin: Instead of accepting God, you know what’s best. I’m going to lean into what you’re doing in this moment. I’m gonna trust you, and I’m going to accept what’s taking place.

John: Thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family, with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back on Monday, as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

A Love That Laughs

A Love That Laughs

Receive Ted Cunningham's book A Love That Laughs and the audio download of the broadcast "Bringing Laughter to Your Marriage" for your donation of any amount! Plus, receive member-exclusive benefits when you make a recurring gift today. Your monthly support helps families thrive.

Recent Episodes

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Gaining a New Perspective on Life

Who is in control of your life? British evangelist J.John challenges believers to live up to our tremendous God-given potential by letting Jesus into the driver’s seat of our lives. With humorous stories of his many years in ministry, J.John explains that the essence of Christianity is to know Christ, and make Him known to others.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Examining Your Part in a Difficult Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Former Major League Baseball player Darryl Strawberry and his wife, Tracy, talk candidly about the past troubles they experienced in their personal lives and in their marriage, and offer hope to struggling couples as they describe how God brought them restoration and redemption. (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Examining Your Part in a Difficult Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Former Major League Baseball player Darryl Strawberry and his wife, Tracy, talk candidly about the past troubles they experienced in their personal lives and in their marriage, and offer hope to struggling couples as they describe how God brought them restoration and redemption. (Part 1 of 2)

You May Also Like

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

A Legacy of Music and Trusting the Lord

Larnelle Harris shares stories about how God redeemed the dysfunctional past of his parents, the many African-American teachers who sacrificed their time and energy to give young men like himself a better future, and how his faithfulness to godly principles gave him greater opportunities and career success than anything else.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Accepting Your Imperfect Life

Amy Carroll shares how her perfectionism led to her being discontent in her marriage for over a decade, how she learned to find value in who Christ is, not in what she does, and practical ways everyone can accept the messiness of marriage and of life.