Have you ever noticed how some things correlate? The amount of air pressure in your tires affects the smoothness of your ride and the gas mileage of your vehicle. The amount of sleep you get influences your memory and mood. The nutrition of your diet affects your susceptibility to certain diseases.
Let’s examine another correlation – the level of honor in your sense of humor significantly influences the level of honor in your conflicts. While I am not a mechanic, sleep specialist, or nutritionist, I am a counselor and have seen this principle hold true quite frequently.
Think of it this way, the level of honor you use when joking with your spouse (or anyone else) sets the baseline of honor from which the temptation to dishonor one another in conflict will begin. If your normal joking includes any of the following, then you have a significant level of dishonor in your humor.
- Verbal jabs about your spouse’s insecurities or weaknesses
- Sarcasm (otherwise known as “violence through humor”)
- Comparisons to unbecoming people
- Complimenting someone else to get a “rise” out of spouse
- References to past mistakes or faux pas
- Condescending jokes in front of others
- Suggestions of leaving or being aggressive
- Derogatory remarks regarding friends or other loved ones
- Belittling their interests or hobbies
- Using nicknames that are unappreciated
If you would think in terms of a 1 to 10 scale with anything over a 5 being an unhealthy argument, then these uses of humor give a couple a “humor baseline” of 4. At that point, they are always only one or two steps from unhealthy and if anything else goes wrong they can quickly enter the “danger zone.”
With that being said, consider Ephesians 4:29,
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
If we begin our application of this verse with our sense of humor, then we will have a much easier time obeying it in our times of “disagreement.” More than this, we should think of our humor as a part of the process of sanctification (both our own and others). As we learn to have a good laugh (and I’m all for humor) in a way that “gives grace to those who hear,” then we will be effectively shaping our own heart and the heart of others to be more godly as we enjoy one another.