Oh young -- or even not young -- love! Remember when you would crack jokes and your wife would laugh and laugh? That's over now, my friend. Well, sometimes she still laughs, but not like before. Now it's more like you know she's thinking, "If I laugh, will that appease him so that he stops making those stupid jokes?" Actually it's a parallel for your sex life.
But before we berate your wife for being a buzzkill and a joy-destroyer, let's check out some of the reasons that your awesome sense of humor may not be appreciated as much as it once was.
1. There is a time and a place for joking.
Here are some key times and places that are NOT for joking: when your wife is extremely stressed out, when the kids are shrieking, when you have 1 minute to talk in between switching parenting shifts, when she is naked. Here are some other ones: when she is trying to be serious (see #5), when she hasn't slept in three nights, when she is openly begging you not to joke around anymore,
2. You aren't funny, you're mean.
Sarcasm can be funny. Mostly it's funny when you're in 10th grade biology class and you're cracking jokes at the expense of the substitute teacher. But actually, it's mean then too. If you want to be sarcastic, at least don't aim it at your wife. And if you do, don't be surprised when she doesn't laugh. Don't make fun of your wife's personality, looks, values, goals, or anything important to her and be shocked when she doesn't fall down peeing from laughter.
If your wife often says, "That wasn't funny," and looks hurt, try this introspection technique: Did you have a parent, or possibly an older sibling (but usually the sibling learns it from a parent) who made "funny" jokes at your expense, or at the expense of your siblings or your other parent, and then got very defensive when people's feelings got hurt? Did this parent dismiss others' hurt feelings with the excuse "I was just joking," or say, "For God's sake, can't anyone take a joke around here?" If you can remember what it felt like to be the butt of a parent's or sibling's jokes, use this insight to empathize with how your wife feels when you do this to her.
3. Your jokes show that you're insecure.
Joking about your wife cheating on you, your wife leaving you for another man, your wife prioritizing work/kids/extended family over you, how unattractive or overweight you are, what a "loser" you are.... these topics just aren't that funny. They are uncomfortable and awkward for your listener, because they are fairly obvious expressions of insecurity. Self deprecating humor is all well and good if you're Woody Allen, but unless you're absolutely hilarious (you'll know, because throughout your life, people will have told you, pretty frequently, "You're absolutely hilarious!" while they wipe tears of laughter off their faces), talking about how much you suck is not going to bring down the house.
4. Your jokes are just constant.
Even the funniest guy in the world is going to annoy people if he's never serious. If your default stance is this jokey tone, your wife is just sick of it. She is likely fantasizing about some tall, dark, handsome, and SERIOUS guy who sweeps her off her feet with nary a joke to be heard at all. Yeah, if she was with this guy, she would likely miss some of your jokes, but the key word there was SOME. Take it down a notch. You don't want the Ray and Debra Barone dynamic in your marriage, right? He was pretty funny, but he didn't get laid a lot.
5. She can't be serious when you never are.
If she wants to bring up something really serious, your wife has to think, "What's the reaction going to be? Is he going to make fun? Make a joke? Refuse to take it seriously? Might as well not bring it up." After too many instances like this, your wife will grow detached from the marriage, because of the absence of genuine, honest interactions.
If this post resonates with you, share it with your spouse and use it to start a (non-joking) conversation. And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Yeah, But What About If You're MARRIED to Louis C.K.?
For more, visit Dr. Rodman at Dr. Psych Mom, on Facebook, and on Twitter@DrPsychMom.