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1 love-and-laughter-how-humor-can-ease-relationship-tension Shaunti Feldhahn

Jabbing the key into the ignition, he looks up as she finally open the door to get in the car. He says with irritation, “Hurry up, we’re going to be late!”

She’s fuming, too. “I had to drop everything and look for the missing soccer shirt, remember?”

Silence. Simmering tempers. But then . . . silliness. He sings, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date!” — the repetition of an oft-repeated joke in their house.

They look at each other and she laughs, giving that “Are we OK?” head tilt. The corners of his mouth sneak up into a sly smile. The kids are laughing in the backseat — they’ve heard that silly phrase a thousand times before too. Suddenly, everything is okay.

How many times have moments of irritation or feelings of frustration sent your relationship into a tailspin? When people are tired or stressed (or late!) it doesn’t take much for things to escalate into a full-blown argument, right?

But believe it or not, it also doesn’t take much to suddenly make up—and grow even closer.

Our research with 1,000 couples for The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages identified a few ways to use humor (and one way NOT to!) to ease tension and create a great relationship with your mate.

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