Don’t use humor to gloss over or avoid real issues your mate is trying to raise
If your mate is trying to raise a real issue, set the humor aside for a moment and listen. Sometimes joking around is a way of delaying difficult conversations. It can be easy to hide behind jokes to avoid dealing with the nitty-gritty of a serious relationship issue. But that devalues your spouse and the very real issues that affect your marriage. It says, “I don’t care about this issue you’re trying to raise.” Which, to your hurting mate, can wrongly imply, “I don’t care about you.”
For example, let’s suppose he hates being late to church, and she doesn’t seem any urgency to get there on time. So one day he tries to raise how humiliating it feels to always walk in late to church, and she starts joking about it. (“You’re telling me! Remember that time we were hurrying in during the offering and Brendan accidentally tripped the guy collecting the baskets and spilled cash all over the floor?!”) She may be trying to avoid the difficult conversation (or the difficult truth), but in doing so she is using humor to say “I don’t care about what matters to you.”
If you’ve ever heard the words, “I’m not kidding!” that’s a sign that you’ve pushed your spouse too far. That is when you pause, say “I’m sorry, I was wrong to joke about that. I know this matters to you.” Then take a deep breath, and tell your mate you’re ready to listen. It’s time to be brave, focus in, get real, and address the matter at hand.