9.1 The Skill

Laughter is incredibly healing. It is a good thing to bring to your relationship on a regular basis.
Here are a few ways we have found to foster levity. No doubt you have your own as well. Tonight the group is completely about having fun, which is serious business.

We play a game called In the Manner of the Word that sets my sides aching with laughter. This is how it works. One person leaves the room and everyone else chooses an adverb. Then the person returns and asks different people to do simple actions in the manner of the word chosen.
"Lisa, tie your husband's shoes in the manner of the word."
"Jamie, sing the Star Spangles Banner in the manner of the word."
"Chara, pretend to brush your teeth in the manner of the word."
Now depending on the adverb selected, all kinds of interesting things happen. If the adverb is cooperatively, or incompletely, or precisely, or twice, the actors will tie and sing and brush accordingly. It is for the person giving orders to interpret the behavior and guess the adverb. When he or she does so correctly, everyone celebrates and a new person goes out of the room.
Another game we enjoy is Dictionary. Someone finds an obscure word in the dictionary and everyone writes their most convincing definition. They all hand their definitions in and the real one is added to the mix. Then the person whose turn it is reads them all and people get a chance to vote for what they believe is the correct one. If you convince someone with your well crafted definition, bravo. If you guess the right one, bravo. But really it is just about laughing.
One more game is Behavior Modification. Someone leaves the room and everyone agrees on a behavior they want to modify him or her into doing.... without words.  It could be ten jumping jacks, or tying two people's shoes together, or singing the Star Spangled Banner. He or she comes back and starts trying things... moving every which way as people give positive or negative feedback depending on how close or far they are from the Unspoken Goal. Once we got someone to say Hamlet's soliloquy in under a minute. Another time we got someone in the lotus position... on top of the vending machine. When the confused person finally gets it right, everyone cheers and you pick a new person.
Another game we enjoy is Dictionary. One person chooses an obscure word, and everyone else creates their most convincing ( or funny) definition. Then the definitions are all collected, along with the real one, and the first person reads them all, in random order. Then people vote on what they think is the true one. If you get it right, bravo. If your definition convinces someone, bravo again.
One more playful game is Behavior Modification. Someone leaves the room and everyone else picks a simple action they will try to get the person to do. It could be ten jumping jacks, or singing the Star Spangled Banner, or tying two people's shoelaces together. Then the person comes back in and, well tries things. The group gives feedback in the form of groans and excited gasps, depending on whether the person is getting closer or farther from the chosen activity. You would be surprised how much you can lead someone. Once we got someone to say Hamlet's soliloquy. Another time we got a woman on top of the soda machine in the lotus position. When the person finally achieves the behavior, everyone cheers.


9.2 The Quote

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”

Psalm 126


9.3 The Story

Infographics are the new teaching tool. When someone can strangle the results of a study into a pretty picture, it increases the likelihood of that information being disseminated. 

This example includes concepts I have heard before: 
Five positives to one negative is the magic ratio of a happy marriage
Asking a couple to recall a time they cracked up together rekindles those feelings
Couples who can use humor or compromise to mitigate conflict are happier
Appreciations are common in healthy relationships
Spending more time talking together is indicative of a good marriage
But words can be boring. Seeing little pictures helps settle it into your brain with a tad more glue. 
I especially like the suggestion to remember laughter. Hearing John laugh is one of the sweetest sounds in my list of favorites. I am not the funniest kid on the block so I have to resort to other sources of humor. One time we pealed over a list of mistakes made on college essays, and excuses parents handed in to teachers about their child's absence. Here are a few.
"Please excuse Susie on April 29, 20, 31 and 32."
"We forgot to bring in the newspaper on Sunday so when it was still on the porch on Monday we thought it was still Sunday."
"Benjamin Franklin invented electricity."
But my humor is not nearly as rich as your own. Go laugh with someone you love. 



9.4 Activity with Your Children

You don't usually have to ask twice when you want kids to have fun. The list of playful distractions is as long as your arm and just as ticklish. Turn off the screens and play with your children... charades, Apples to Apples, slap jack, soccer, frisbee. Children are the living, breathing proof that the two of you love each other. Open up the possibilities to enjoying those fruity little people who look like you. 


9.5 The Prayer

Dear Lord,

Help me to not be so serious. Help me remember that you created each of us from the abundance of Your love and desire to make us happy. Help me to access that love, so that it can empower me to help others be happy too. 



9.6 Ideas

Plan for a real excursion. Go the the lake, or the shore, Take a dance class together, paint a wall together not because you have to but because there was a time when being six feet apart was too far.