First, a disclaimer: This is a Christian book by a Christian pastor. While I normally try to review books that have a larger, more general swath, but I do not actually know a secular author who has this same mission, introducing fun into the couple relationship. So although this book is pretty Christian, if you can overlook the Bible verses and such, I think you will get a lot of good information here. I think I liked his earlier book, “Fun Loving You” just a little bit better, and I had a lot of non-Christian clients read that one and love it.
This book is a blend of serious and silly, which is really nice. Cunningham starts with a discussion about humor and how important it is to relationships- couples that laugh together stay together! And he makes good points about how it’s hard to really be mad or bitter at people that we laugh with often. He suggests having a laughter goal or a laughter to conflict ratio goal. He also sets up the book with a “points” system, where you and your partner can get points for doing the suggested exercises and getting a laugh – kind of gimmicky but if you’re a competitive couple, it might be fun!
He discusses the benefits of laughter: Mental, Emotional, Physical, Relational and Spiritual. But he does caution against inappropriate humor and goes to some lengths to define humor that is used as avoidance or harmful to relationships. He talks about humor being a skill that can be learned, not just something that you either have or not. Humor requires paying attention – there are funny things going on all around you. Each chapter ends with activities you would do to try to get a laugh from your partner, and also some conversation starter type questions that might encourage laughter.
Next he goes into some more serious couples topics but brings it back to how humor can help these more serious issues. He discusses communication and the art of listening; conflict and how appropriate humor can assist; differences that every couple struggles with and how to use humor to defuse these; making it a priority to have other couples around you as friends and mentors that can encourage a healthy and humorful marriage; and healthy habits that happy couples have.
There are a few cautions for non-Christians here. He discusses the NFL “take a knee” movement in a way that might trigger some, but it’s in the context of the larger discussion about how it’s important to listen to each other. He talks about gender differences and although it’s useful to talk about these stereotypes, he does reference the “marriage is between a man and a woman” stance, which isn’t surprising considering that he is a conservative pastor. Lastly, there’s a chapter on divorce which references it not being God’s plan – which you may not agree with, but if you’re reading a book on happy marriage, you presumably can agree that any ideas about making marriage work are helpful. If you can, try to take these sections in the spirit in which they are given, taking the parts you agree with and leaving the rest.
All in all, I’m a big fan of strategies that make marriage more fun and funny, and de-emphasize the “marriage is work” perspective. I’d love to see a secular book on this topic, but since I don’t know of one, see if you can make this book work for you!
Disclaimer: The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link – I receive a small compensation from purchases made through this link. Also, the summary above is NOT intended to replace purchasing of this book; it is simply to save you time if you currently do not have time to read the entire book.