Focus on the Family

Good humor can bring family closer together

Q: How can we use humor to promote a more cheerful and healthy atmosphere in our home?

Jim: That's a great question and one that reflects an understanding that humor and laughter are important elements of a happy, healthy and thriving family life. I think writer Agnes Repplier got it exactly right when she said, "We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh."

So how can you turn your house into a place where love and laughter flow like the Mississippi? Here are some suggestions:

• First, don't take yourself too seriously. Perspective often escapes us, making it easy to distort the significance of things. Take a step back and try to get a sense of where you fit in the "bigger picture." And remind yourself that God alone sees your situation as it really is. • Second, resolve to laugh even when you don't feel like laughing. Tough times are when a good laugh is most urgent, and a bit of humor can help wash away the stress. It can also keep your marriage and family together when you're coming unglued.

• Next, look for the humor around you. Art Linkletter famously observed that "people are funny" – and it's true. Life is full of good comedic material, so stay on the lookout for the comic element in everyday life.

• Also, discover what makes your spouse and children laugh. Study their individual humor styles and find ways to exploit and develop them at least once a day. • Finally, learn how to poke fun at one another in a lighthearted, healthy, affirming and non-derogatory way. In the right relationship and proper context, some good-natured "teasing" can actually increase feelings of intimacy among family members. Just so long as one person's "joke" doesn't become another person's raw and bleeding wound. 

** ** ** 

Question: I'm a single woman and have a mutual interest in getting to know a man who's eight years younger than I am. This feels strange because other guys I've dated have been closer to my own age. Do you think this is OK? Any advice?

Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: It wasn't so long ago that your question would've raised eyebrows. But older women dating and marrying younger men isn't considered as culturally taboo as it once was. Like every other relationship, the most important consideration is the character of the man and woman involved. That said, it's worth mentioning some dynamics that can make these relationships unique in their challenges.

One obvious area you'll want to evaluate is his level of maturity and stability. Keep in mind that there can be a big difference if you and he are ages 26 and 18, or 34 and 26. This can be an issue, as men generally take more time to identify their purpose and place in the world; they aren't always inclined to settle down, or prepared to support a family. Watch for how he handles his finances, stress, commitments to job, church, friends, family, etc.

Equally important is the need for you to take an honest look at your motives and to be aware of possible blind spots. Women tend to be the more nurturing of the sexes, and some guys are looking for a perpetual mother. Such pairings typically have disastrous results, with the woman taking on every responsibility and eventually losing respect for and resenting the "little boy" she married who never grew up. Feel free, then, to move ahead. But as you do, be sure to ask yourself these and other questions early on and along the way to ensure that you're both like-minded and in a similar, healthy place. 

** ** ** 

(Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus .)



More Close Up

Weekender: See & Do

• Southern Ground Social Club, 18 Main St., Senoia, Fri., Aug. 22, features the return of Nashville group Jerry Castle and the Arrivals ... Read More


Movie Review

12 years in making, ‘Boyhood’ one of year's best

So many things could have gone wrong while making Boyhood. And it’s possible that many things did go wrong, but you wouldn’t kno ... Read More


Food & Dining

Homemade hot sandwiches

Now that school is back in session, finding a quick and easy meal to prepare for dinner is essential. A hot sandwich is great way to feed th ... Read More


Consumer Q’s

Raw okra is safe, Mortgage Lifter tomato is from ‘30s

Consumer Q’s is distributed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Gary W. Black, Commissioner. For questions about services or pro ... Read More


Food & Dining

Dine Out For Kids event today

Communities in Schools of Coweta is partnering with several area restaurants today for a benefit to help Coweta students achieve success in ... Read More

'Gone With the Wind' collector

Bridges to be remembered at Athens event

Herb Bridges, the Sharpsburg mail carrier who made a name for himself as a collector of “Gone With the Wind” memorabilia, will b ... Read More