“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” Victor Hugo
Ask any couple what first brought them together, and it’s likely they’ll say a shared sense of humour was one of the clinching factors in deciding to give their relationship a go. Laughing at the same things helps create shared memories and, as in Victor Hugo’s quote, laughter puts sunshine on the faces of a happy couple. Yet, years down the line when a relationship might turn chilly, the lack of laughter can be the first thing to go – leaving to winter to settle into the relationship.
Yet the ability to laugh together is a marker of relationships that last, according to Laura Kurtz and Sara Algoe, psychologists at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, who researched this very topic and had it published in the journal Personal Relationships. They videoed 71 heterosexual couples, asking them to talk about how they first met, then coding the instances of spontaneous laughter and asking the couples to complete a survey on relational closeness. They concluded that “the proportion of the conversation spent laughing simultaneously with the romantic partner was uniquely positively associated with global evaluations of relationship quality, closeness, and social support”.
In terms of what this means for relationships that have gone cold: attempt to bring spring back by remembering what you both like laughing at, and attempt to reconnect through shared laughter.