Rarely do I find my husband’s jokes funny.
I feel a sense of accomplishment when I can make him laugh and it also feels strained, staged on my part. I know what kind of remarks will elicit a chuckle or two from him, I figured this out rather quickly in our marriage.
But our sense of humor remains more different than similar. We can annoy or even worse hurt each other by a certain joke we crack. We saw the troubling signs from the beginning of our relationship, but obviously decided it wasn’t a deal-breaker. And as we all do early on, we hope for change, that magically we will turn into a couple who shares in side-splitting laughter every day.
It hasn’t happened and I’m not sure it ever will.
I admit a good-looking guy who can make me laugh and smile is very attractive to me.
Throughout the years I’ve wondered if I shouldn’t have married another person who I feel more at ease around and who can instantly bring a smile to my face no matter my mood.
I always pictured having loads of inside jokes with my husband. I imagined we would flow together in the humor department and make each other laugh until we cry.
But as it turns out, the moments of laughter we share, just the two of us, are few and far between.
And it makes me sad.
Of course, there are the bright moments when we giggle over something one of our kids did or said, when we’re watching a comedian or funny show that makes us laugh at the same time, or when we’re being goofy with a group of friends or family.
All of that is necessary and good. For the health of our relationship, we realized we need to seek out the people and experiences that bring out the light-hearted side of both of us.
But I still grieve.
I grieve the fact we aren’t the fun-loving couple who can tease and make each other’s eyes twinkle with delight.
I grieve our inability to banter back and forth like best friends who just get each other.
I grieve our awkwardness, the way we’ve never been able to flirt with each other like young lovers.
Where’s our chemistry, I wonder. Did we ever have it?
Obviously, our relationship tends to be more serious than smiles. Without much effort, we can bring out each other’s intense, rational, introspective side.
We are both deep thinkers and enjoy long conversations.
Over the years, I’ve noticed the range of topics we can talk about together continues to expand, which makes me excited, hopeful we can make this work. My husband has always been an incredibly skilled communicator. His ability to share his feelings and articulate his thoughts is a gift I don’t take for granted.
My husband works from home, so at least a few mornings a week we can sit together at the kitchen table, our hot drinks in hand, and chat about a particularly interesting book, podcast, or current event until he inevitably realizes a meeting is about to start.
The enjoyment we both find in talking about complex issues together is, as I’ve come to discover, one of our biggest points of connection and overlap. For all the ways our marriage is deficient this appears to be our strength.
But I often worry. Is this the only thing we do well together? Is it enough?
Does our enjoyment of discussing a New York Times article, a theological book, or a money podcast contribute to a lasting romance, a spark to keep our love aflame for the next 30 years?
Obviously, it’s not the only strength we have in our relationship, but it’s the easiest one to spot. When we’re feeling disconnected and disgruntled with each other or with life, we instinctively turn to a question like, “Hey, what have you been reading lately?” or “What’s on your mind this morning?” or the informal but loaded, “Wanna sip?” as he tips his coffee cup towards me. (This is code language for: “You want to talk?”).
Hopefully, what follows are a few peaceful minutes of talking about what’s on our heart, what we’re learning, what we’re thinking, or what we’re dreaming.
However, I must be real and remind you, these chats can often turn into heated debates, misunderstandings, or hurt feelings. We can stumble upon a well of hidden emotions or unhealed wounds. Both of us have been known to simply walk out of the conversation in silence and frustration. I also freak out whenever our talks fall flat, stay surface, and lack a real flow because, as I mentioned, it feels like our only point of connection.
So when our deep talks fail to deliver, when even this blows up, what do we have left?
Is there an obvious strength you and your partner share? Can you name it?
Does it bring you any sort of comfort knowing that at least you have that?