Earthy humor can drive home the nitty-gritty of life, right? And don’t relationships built on solid ground stand the best chance of enduring? So here’s Mark Gungor, author of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, turning his back on the moonlight-androses- forever scenario cherished by many: “If you want the benefit of having an ox, you’re going to have to endure the poo that comes with it. The goal is to have a positive poo-to-ox ratio.”
Apologies for the indelicacy of the bovine image; but it does sum up in an inimitable manner the reality every person who fantasizes about the ideal relationship needs to face: that Mr. or Ms. “Perfect” is a human being with flaws as well as good qualities.
Once that truth is internalized – and who could live up to a flawless mate anyway? – the goal, expressed by Gungor in his unique way, is to see to what extent the positive traits of the intended (or existing) partner outnumber the negative ones. If they don’t, significantly, one is advised to look elsewhere or think about the future of the relationship.
In the event that the ratio of “poo to ox” is a satisfactory one, the good news is that moonlight-and-roses romance can blossom and embellish the relationship. It just isn’t the everyday part of it.
It’s astonishing how so many people will claim that of course they know all this, that it’s quite obvious – and yet continue to nurture the same unrealistic expectations from every relationship they embark on.
The great thing about Gungor’s pithy ox image, apart from the lesson it imparts, is that it makes you laugh. And laughter is to a relationship what water is to a growing plant.
HERE’S A figurative description of a relationship scenario: Two cars are heading for a collision. At the last minute, one veers off into a side street that has come into view, averting disaster.
The real-life situation is the girlfriend who seems to expect constant gifts and pricey outings, or the wife who is spending more than the family budget can bear. In each case, the man is getting more and more upset. A collision seems inevitable.
But then, instead of angrily going head-tohead with his partner, he tells her this joke: Boyfriend: “Do you think my salary is sufficient for you?” Girlfriend: “It’s sufficient for me, but how will you survive?” Or maybe this one: The police telephones a man to tell him that his stolen credit card has been located and the thief apprehended.
Responds the man: “Let him keep it. He spends less than my wife does.”
Laughing together defuses tension and can open the way to a calmer discussion of the issue.
EVERYONE HAS little habits that can potentially drive a partner crazy. It could be the loud way he sneezes or the voice she uses when she answers the phone. I used to get very irritated by the way an old boyfriend would gaze intently into the bottom of his glass all the time he was drinking. Go figure.
It’s often some discontent within ourselves that makes us react to our partners in this unfair way. Or it may be the price of all that proximity.
Here’s American comedian Ellen DeGeneres on the subject of annoying habits: “You can always tell when the relationship is over.
Little things start getting on your nerves, ‘Would you please stop that! That breathing in and out, it’s so repetitious.’”
ALTHOUGH BOTH men and women claim they are looking for a partner with a sense of humor, some studies suggest that men and women respond to humor and laughter in a different and quite clear-cut way. According to an article in Scientific American Mind titled “The Humor Gap,” women are attracted by a man who can make them laugh, while men are looking for women who will laugh at their jokes.
An attractive female comedian confessed that during the 10 years she’d been doing stand-up comedy, she’d only been asked out once on a date.
Male comics, by contrast, are often mobbed by women after their shows.
But it seems the role of humor evolves together with the relationship, strengthening the bond between two people. If humor in men is a key factor in attracting women, other studies have shown that relationships thrive when women are the funny partners.
WISDOM MAY flow from the mouths of babes and sucklings – and occasionally even from “girly” websites like one I discovered called “Fabulously 40 and Beyond,” which gives “a man’s perspective” on “How to Be Irresistible to Men.”
Men want to know that they can make a woman happy, the unnamed man writes, and “therefore, a woman who laughs easily (but not excessively) is often irresistible to a man....
“A woman’s laughter is like music to a man’s ears.... When a man causes a woman to laugh, it gives the man a sense of gratification, strokes his ego and makes him feel that he can make her happy, [which] makes for an emotionally-charged sexual cocktail.”
Laughter, the contributor goes on, “is the shortest distance between two people.”
‘MY HUSBAND asked me if I would rather have cute or funny in a spouse,” writes a blogger with the lovely name of Chastity Sunshine.
“Hands down I’d rather have funny, but I’m lucky because he’s handsome and hilarious. We’re always laughing at the craziness in everyday life.
Our marriage wouldn’t survive without laughter, and neither would we.”
She loves her husband unconditionally “even though he falls asleep before me and his snoring keeps me wide awake...
even though he eats all the brownies I make before I can eat one,” and “eats all the Nutella and puts the empty jar back in the pantry.”
MY HUSBAND and I still laugh, though not unkindly, when we recall the man – someone he had met briefly just once – who came over to him at the social event four years ago at which our engagement was announced.
Clearly moved, the man lowered his considerable bulk onto a chair, grasped my then-fiance’s arm, and revealed that he himself had been married for just a few months.
“Here’s what you have to do,” he urged, emotionally. “Give, give, give, give – and give some more.” He and his wife were happy together, he added, perhaps unnecessarily.
The drama of this near-stranger’s pronouncement was funny, but the sentiment was sound. It reminded me of an article I’d read which debunked the idea that each partner in a marriage should give 50 percent to the endeavor, expecting the same from the other, thus making 100% and, presumably, a successful union.
Marriage isn’t a business deal, the article stressed.
For a happy marriage, each side should endeavor to give 100%, all the time.
That isn’t always possible, of course, but you get the idea: Give of yourself freely, and don’t keep an account book.
TO ANY couple considering marriage, my advice might echo this recommendation I found on the Web: The four most important words in any marriage are: “I’ll do the dishes.”
With pre-Passover preparation frenzy at its height, that offer sounds much sweeter than a bunch of roses and an invitation to stroll in the moonlight.