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Some years ago, I heard a trivia contest on a local radio station. They asked "Children do this over 300 times per day and adults less than 12 — what is it?" I instantly grabbed my cellphone dialed in and said "Laugh." Please don’t ask me what I won — I can’t remember.

I have long held the belief that we, as a nation, do not laugh enough and that we are paying a steep price for that deficiency. I believe the same can be said for marriage. When couples first meet, laughter is a key ingredient of their relationship-formation. It is effortless, spontaneous and thoroughly enjoyed by both parties. They enjoy each other’s company so much they decide to marry and spend the rest of their days laughing their way through life. And that they do, for the most part — at least for a while.

But, as is all-too-often the case, laughter gives way to the busyness of life. There seems to be precious little time for fun and laughter when they spend so much of their lives raising the kids and paying the bills. Or is that raising the bills and paying the kids?

Please don’t go too far with what I am saying. Laughter alone will likely not heal wounds and deep divisions within a marriage. I have read, however, that when a couple sits next to each other and laughs, they find the connection in their relationship deepening. It’s a lot cheaper than counseling or marriage coaching so why not give it a try? Find some humorous material that you can watch together and spend 30 to 60 minutes two or three times each week just laughing together.

You may have a favorite sitcom you both enjoy. Many of them are available for free on YouTube, or you can purchase an entire year of shows for not a lot of money. Some years ago, I came across the entire series of "Everybody Loves Raymond" at a ridiculous sale price. Suffice to say that investment has paid dividends time and again. We have several years of "Home Improvement," which also have been the source of many hearty laughs in our home.

We bought 60 years of "Candid Camera," which contain a great deal of mirth and merriment. I don’t know that I’ve ever written those words before, but they brought a smile to my face, and I hope to yours as well.

Take some time and check out Taylor Mason, Mark Lowry, Ken Davis or Jeff Allen on YouTube. All provide a great deal of family-friendly humor. I dare you to watch Wafflely Wedded Wife, especially with others and not laugh.

Your tastes in comedy likely differ widely from those of my wife and me, but there is plenty of material for you to choose from.

Life is hard sometimes. Especially in our area, there are many couples and families who are struggling mightily with the crisis in the oil and gas industry. Thomas Paine, a founding father of our nation, said "These are times that try men’s souls." We could justly use that quotation today to describe our present predicament.

And yet, in the midst of strife and difficulty, we do still have much to celebrate and for which to be thankful. I often challenge attendees in my workshops to think back over the past six months and consider the worst day they can remember. I then ask them to consider how many billions of people on our planet would have gladly traded places with them on that dreadful day. An honest answer would have to be billions,and billions of them would gladly have given you their problems if you were to take theirs. That is not to say that your problems are therefore meaningless because others have it worse. Misery is certainly not a competition. But it does help to keep things in perspective now and then.

Just in case you’re not yet convinced that laughter should be a regular component of your marriage and your life, keep in mind that:

  • Laughter releases endorphins (a chemical 10 times more powerful than the pain-relieving drug morphine) into the body with the same exhilarating effect as doing strenuous exercise.
  • Every time you have a good hearty laugh, you burn 3.5 calories. How’s that for a weightloss program?
  • Laughing increases oxygen intake, thereby replenishing and invigorating cells. It also increases the pain threshold, boosts immunity, and relieves stress.

Other benefits of laughter are:

  • It can lower blood pressure. It gives a workout to the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles.
  • It reduces certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. It increases the response of tumor and disease killing cells, such as Gamma-interferon and T-cells.
  • It helps to defend against respiratory infections — even reducing the frequency of colds — by immunoglobulin in saliva.
  • It increases memory and learning. In a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, humor during instruction led to increased test scores, improved alertness, creativity and memory.

Again, you or someone you know may need more serious intervention in their troubled marriage than just to laugh together. There should be no shame or stigma about seeking out such professional help. All marriages struggle at times so please don’t feel you are alone or that there is something wrong with you.

I am confident that laughter can be a healthy component of any marriage, no matter what state it might presently be in. So I’ll close with words from the world’s most influential man — stay laughing my friends.

Ron Price is the owner and operator of Productive Outcomes Inc. and the author of "PLAY NICE in Your Sandbox at Work," an e-book available on Amazon. He can be reached at 505-324-6328.

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