November 20, 2009

Resist Humor At Your Partner's Expense

Humor is a gift. Through humor, we lighten our daily load, gain perspective on our many flaws, and keep from taking thing too seriously. The ability to laugh at ourselves moves us toward balanced self-awareness.
But humor can also turn you on your head. What is funny to one person may be deeply offensive to another. What on person may intend as a lighthearted quip may inadvertently touch on another person's pain.

Perhaps most upsetting, however, is humor aimed at a life partner. Many couples develop a pattern of teasing on another in the company of others. Sometimes it's a way to show how well they know one another. Sometimes it's an attempt to avoid actual criticism of their partner, even though what they're communicating is, in fact, critical. Some couples use humor in private, as well, and sometimes to good effect. If you have something serious to say to or about your partner, humor can take the edge off and make it palatable.

In any case, you need to remember that humor-especially teasing- can transform a moment for the better, but it can also be transformed by the moment in which it is heard. What you say in jest may be taken in deadly seriousness. This is true with any other person-especially your life partner.

For example, your partner may make fun of an extended family member in private as a way of coping with unresolved negative feelings. When you do the same in front of others, you suddenly find yourself in trouble. His negative feelings don't change the fact that the person you're poking fun at is a family member who has played an important role in his life. It's easy to trip over someone else's feelings when you choose to tease.

Always reconsider any joke at your sweetheart's expense. Many jokes at someone else's expense are not received with as much good humor as it may seem. You may be touching on a vulnerability. Go gently, and keep your antennae tuned. Make a point of asking your partner about his feelings related to your teasing at a moment other than when you're joking. If you;re going to risk poking fun be prepared to apologize if your joking backfires.

Humor is indeed a gift, but it requires sensitivity, compassion, and self-restraint. In the interest of fair play, if you're going to ask your partner to be the fall guy, you had better be willing to play that role yourself. In fact, if you're determined to make someone the butt of a joke, maybe it should be you.--Richard Carlosn


Myne Whitman said...

Nice article, I joke around a lot with SO but we have to discuss sometimes on the off-limits. Thanks for sharing.

Lady A said...

@Myne, that's good u guys discuss this. I joke around a lot n sometimes too much. I'm glad my hubby knows how to handle me in the joking department. He doesn't take it seriously.