Couple Dynamics: The Jokester and the Serious One

Scenario: In courtship Gerry was always teasing Jenny in an affectionate way. He loved to kibitz around and crack jokes.  At home, growing up, when things got tense he learned he could break the tension by joking.  In school, being the class clown worked well too, and made him lots of friends.  He loved that he could make Jenny laugh.  Jenny loved it.  It helped her not take herself and life so seriously. She grew up in a family that rarely laughed.

Gerry and Jenny had a lot of fun together and laughter was a big part of their relationship. After they married, when they had problems he would laugh them off.  At first it worked, but it did not solve the problems. Jenny got frustrated because she could not get him to address issues in a serious way. The more he used jokes to divert from addressing problems the more serious Jenny became.  The more serious she became the more he tried to lighten things up.  The more he tried to lighten things up the more serious and resentful she became. He accused her not having a sense of humor.  She accused him of being a flake. The relationship became in danger of breaking up because they had no way to resolve their differences.

Finally, when Gerry realized that he might lose Jenny he became serious.  Although it was difficult for him to hang in with her through the tension and negative feelings, he was able to do it.  When Jenny was able to get Gerry to resolve problems she relaxed and lightened up.  This helped Gerry.  Jenny realized that she could be too serious and she changed how she approached Gerry with a problem.  Gerry started to bring problems to Jenny instead of laughing them off. When they learned how to be serious and solve their differences, the fun and laughter returned to their relationship.

The Joking/Serious Theme

As couples do, once living together the partners settle into the dynamics that they are going to play out with each other, often for a lifetime. The first year of living together is about sorting out this dynamic. Every couple develops their own idiosyncratic style.

There is power in the ability to influence people through laughter. People who love to joke are attracted to serious partners.  They love to make them laugh.  Serious Ones are attracted to Jokers because they brighten them up and make them less serious. Courtship goes well because they complement each other.  The Serious One can be playful because they know the Joker has a serious side, demonstrated by the progression of the relationship through to marriage and/or living together.  As long as the Joker continues to have a serious side and the Serious One does not get overly serious, the positive interactive cycle between them continues.  They can develop their own unique style of resolving issues and problems that is perfect for them.

Be serious occasionally and you will laugh lots.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

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