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How To Use Humor To Defuse An Argument

Can humor help defuse a relationship disagreement – or an outright argument? Or does it just make everything worse? As it turns out, humor CAN help – IF it’s used appropriately. Find out just how to use humor – and what never to do – during a disagreement.

What do you think: Can humor help during a disagreement with your spouse?

Imagine this scenario:

The conflict between the two of you has been brewing all day, all month – or maybe even longer.

Regardless of when it began, here you are right now – in the midst of a heated argument with your spouse or partner.

Neither of you is holding back, or backing down, but somehow, something needs to give.

Otherwise, you feel as if you’ll both explode.

The last thing you might think is appropriate at this moment just might be the thing that gets you through to the other side!

Yep, humor might be just the thing you need right now – IF it’s appropriate to the situation.

This is part four of a series. Before reading this post, be sure to read parts one, two, and three.

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What is The Role of Humor in Romantic Relationships?

We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, and it’s true.

Laughter relieves stress, elevates mood, and makes you more resilient.

Study after study shows that a “sense of humor” is the number one quality requested in a romantic partner.

In new relationships, humor can be a useful way of building attraction, and also moving through that awkward “getting to know you” phase.

In established relationships, humor creates a sense of intimacy and connection between two people. These are two of the qualities that define solid, successful relationships.

When couples laugh together, they create a positive bond that acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointments.

Humor can keep couples bonded even during bad patches in a relationship.

older couple using humor during an argument.  can humor help during a disagreement?

Humor Strengthens Relationships By Helping To:

Form a strong bond with your partner

Laughter binds people together, builds intimacy, and improves the overall quality of your romantic relationship.

Smooth over differences

Using gentle humor can help even when discussing some of the most sensitive issues in your relationship. It allows you to get your point across without getting the other person’s defenses up or hurting their feelings.

Ease tension

A well-timed joke can defuse a tense situation and help you resolve disagreements.

Overcome problems and setbacks

A sense of humor helps you take hardships in stride, overcome disappointment, and bounce back from troubling situations. It makes you more resilient to life’s ups and downs.

Put things into perspective

Humor can help you reframe problems that might otherwise seem overwhelming and see different points of view.

Interrupt the power struggle

Humor can make the whole conversation less threatening, lower your defenses, and allow you to step away from the power struggle. It de-escalates the need to “win” and instead changes the tone of the argument from competition to collaboration.

Be more spontaneous

Shared laughter helps you break free from rigid ways of thinking and behaving. This in turn allows you to see the problem in a new way and look for more creative solutions.

Let go of inhibitions

Laughter is freeing. It encourages our deep, genuine emotions to rise to the surface. We feel freer to express our true thoughts and feelings in a safe and loving atmosphere.

Be less defensive

Because we feel less threatened, humor allows us to tolerate learning things about ourselves that we otherwise might find unpleasant or even painful.

Ever played a couple’s communication game? Check these out!

“If you use humor in the right way at the right time – you CAN diffuse a conflict. Everyday life is full of great opportunities to disarm negativity, ease a tense situation, and help people find a win-win solution more quickly…using a bit of light-heartedness.

Carla Rieger

older couple using humor during an argument.  Can humor help during a disagreement?

How Can Humor Help During a Disagreement?

It should feel natural and appropriate

The humor should be tied into the discussion in a natural way. It shouldn’t seem as if you are trying to change the subject. Rather, you are adding a lighter perspective.

It should also be delivered in a natural, organic way.

If you normally add bits of humor in your daily conversations, then adding it to your arguments will come more naturally.

If you as a couple don’t normally joke around at all in your daily lives, using humor during an argument will fall flat.

In other words, don’t attempt to tell a “knock-knock joke” in the middle of a fight.

Focus your humor on the situation, not On your partner

You want to laugh with your partner – not at them. The intent is to clear negativity, not create more of it by hurting the other person’s feelings.

Keep it clean and keep it kind.

Your best indicator of getting it right is to gauge the other person’s reactions. If they’re not laughing, chances are they don’t find it funny.

Never make your partner the butt of a joke. That’s not humorous; it’s just mean.

Don’t use humor to mask your other emotions

No one benefits in an argument where both sides aren’t honest with each other. So, use humor to diffuse an angry situation. Don’t use humor to pretend that you weren’t angry in the first place.

Don’t work so hard to make your partner laugh that you lose track of the argument substance altogether, and never get a chance to fully discuss and resolve the issue.

Use humor as a means to keep emotions under control so that the talk can move forward.

Work on fine-tuning your sense of humor

Every good comedian knows how to read their audience. The same goes for using humor with another person, especially in a situation that’s already a conflict.

Watch the nonverbal cues.

Keep the tone positive and light.

Recognize that everyone’s sense of humor is a little different, and learn to fine-tune your delivery to match your spouse’s sense of humor. That match is what will provide the intimacy you seek and will bind you closer together.

Read More:

Final Thoughts on Can Humor Help During a Relationship Disagreement?

Humor isn’t a miracle cure for conflicts but it can be an important tool to help you overcome the rough spots that every relationship experiences from time to time.

Humor can help you:

  • form a strong bond with your partner
  • ease tensions
  • overcome problems and setbacks
  • put things into perspective
  • interrupt the power struggle
  • be more spontaneous
  • let go of inhibitions
  • be less defensive

Ways Humor Can Help During a Disagreement:

  • it should feel natural and appropriate
  • focus your humor on the situation, not your partner
  • don’t use humor to mask your other emotions
  • work on fine-tuning your sense of humor


text how to use humor to defuse an argument with your partner and photo of man and women laughing happily together
text how to use humor to defuse an argument with your partner and photo of man and women laughing happily together
text how to use humor to defuse an argument with your partner and photo of man and women laughing happily together

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