“If you find someone you can laugh with, put a ring on it. Marry him, partner him, significantly-other him or whatever the in-term is now,” says author Jane De Suza, adding that handling them may not be easy, if you have no sense of humour. “While writing Happily Never After, I came face to face with some of the nastiest relationship problems, the kind that break people apart and found that looking at them differently can help. Humour puts the fun back into a relationship that’s curdled,” says De Suza.
“Seriously though, (and here’s another word we ban – ‘seriously’) whenever you read a joke and hit a forward to your partner, you’re thinking of him and the crinkling of his eyes, many times a day. You’re sending him something that says, ‘I know you’ll get this and I know you’ll love it and laugh at it, and I hope this slackens the tension in your jaw and puts a goofy grin into your manic day.’ And that’s as good a definition of love as any,” she adds.
But of course, I’ve promised you 5 tips and so here, basking in the insights from a funny love story, they are:
1. Humour helps you start a love life in the first place: Jeffrey Hall from the University of Texas presented research to prove that making a woman laugh on your very first meeting, makes you more attractive. More attractive, get that, Fair and Handsome. Turns out your wit needs to be a shade more sparkling than your glowing cheeks. Humour is linked to all sorts of delicious traits in our minds – kindness, positivity, even intelligence. So instead of furrowing your brow, predicting Trump rising or start-ups collapsing, just let yourself loose, and make it fun on that first date.
2. An easier way to resolve the fights: Happily Never After is a love story, and exactly the one you’ve been living in: where love gets buried under EMIs, dissolved in dal-like-my-mom-made and shredded in who-flirted-with-whom-in-which-party. You can either laugh at these things that take over your life, or go scream at each other on the terrace; and in the interest of nesting pigeons and sleeping neighbours – we’ll take the laugh option. The point in the book is that being permanently happy is impossible unless you’re a smiley emoticon. Love’s about how you weather the downs till they’re ups again. Humour saves the most sensitive topics from turning into a blame game. It gives you permission to let down your guard, admit you’re human and open up the field for more creative solutions. The key is to keep it clean, and not use humour as a weapon. Sarcasm or one-upmanship in the guise of being funny, are – well – not.
3. You can bond in a way no one else can quite get (or get into): Relationships are built on those insider jokes and, without sounding too much like the lyrics of a sob-song, those shared moments. Sending your partner a meme you know will crack her up, or cutting your eyes at her across a crowded table when someone drones on about a pet peeve of yours – that moment’s just between the two of you – no matter how many people crowd the room. Humour compatibility is high up on the list of sticky traits. No matter how hard you’ve fallen for someone’s honey brown eyes, if they glaze over when you’re relating a joke you love, be warned.
4 . Help the kids you have/ may one day have : Hang on, I’m getting there... Humour makes the harsher realities a lot more tolerable. If you can laugh at the combination of genes that you two unleashed on your kid to give him that hooked nose, you’re already in a relationship that’s based on looking at the silver lining – and your kid, hooked nose or not, will someday inherit that. He’ll learn from you to look at the most morose things in perspective, and find that though life’s not always fair, it’s funny.
5. The 3 words every woman wants to hear. Laugh with me : At the risk of writing agony-aunt columns for the rest of my life, I’m going to say this. Someone, who likes to notch up your mood when you’re down, who insists on looking at the best-case-scenario, who buys you a laugh-out-loud book or movie ticket, is someone who’s promising a life together which is going to be a lot of fun forever and after. And forever after’s a long time when counted in minutes, so it better be fun. The two of you can grow old by laughing over the fact that what you’ve been losing hair over is really trivial in the long run - or a bad comb – either of which you can throw out really. And that in my eyes, makes for a happily-ever-after.
Jane De Suza is the author of the wacky love story Happily Never After (HarperCollins). Other books include The spy who lost her head, and the SuperZero series for youngsters.