Why does humor sometimes defuse tension and bring you closer to your partner but other times leave you back-pedaling and saying, “I was just kidding!”? After observing couples engage in a conflict, researchers determined that the partners of individuals who used more affiliative humor (e.g., funny stories that emphasize the connection between partners) and less aggressive humor (e.g., sarcasm, criticism) felt closer after the discussion, thought the conflict was better resolved, and were more satisfied with their relationships overall.1 Therefore, joking “We didn’t have any issues about spending money when we both wanted that $20 chocolate fondue last night!”, for example, instead of “Oh sure, your expensive shoe collection absolutely counts as a long-term investment” should better resolve a disagreement about finances. So stick to positive humor when trying to get a laugh out of your partner during a conflict.
Interested in learning more about relationships? Click here for other topics on Science of Relationships. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get our articles delivered directly to your NewsFeed. Learn more about our book and download it here.
1Campbell, L., Martin, R. A., & Ward, J. R. (2008). An observational study of humor use while resolving conflict in dating couples. Personal Relationships, 15, 41-55.
Liz Keneski – Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Liz’s research centers around the intersection of romantic relationships, social networks, and health. Specifically, her research interests include social network support and romantic partner support processes, romantic relationship development and transition norms, and psychological and physiological resilience to relationship stress.