As Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins will testify: we all love to laugh. But did you know that studies may have proven that laughing with your partner can strengthen your relationship and your health?
It seems quite obvious that enjoying positive times with your partner is physically and emotionally good for you, but a study by Sophie K. Scott of University College London takes the power of laughter one step further by saying it can help protect you against symptoms of stress, fear and anxiety. Scott and her team revealed that our ability to ‘regulate our emotions’, i.e. make ourselves feel better when we feel bad, has a big impact on our health and also how we cope with conflict. And one of the best ways to make ourselves feel better? Laughter!
This idea that emotional regulation is so important was first touched upon 13 years ago in a study from Stanford University. In this study, couples were asked to talk about various topics: something neutral, something positive that they enjoyed doing together and something negative (a topic they disagreed on). The study found that the couples who rated themselves as happiest were also the best at regulating their emotions in the discussions around the negative topic and less affected by the emotions this topic brought up, such as anger.
So these findings suggest that one way to strengthen your relationship is to deliberately bring more laughter into it as a method of emotional regulation. It might feel a bit forced, but being able to defuse an escalating conflict with a good laugh could be one of the keys to a long, happy relationship. Whatever the next conflict you face, see if you can find something funny about it. If you start floating towards the ceiling, you’ve gone too far.
 Scott, S. K., Lavan, N., Chen, S., & McGettigan, C. (2014). The social life of laughter.Trends In Cognitive Sciences, 18(12), 618-620. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2014.09.002
 Bloch, L., Haase, C. M., & Levenson, R. W. (2014). Emotion regulation predicts marital