IN THE BEGINNING – FUN?
For some time in my work as a relationship counsellor, I have been intrigued by what couples tell me was their initial attraction to each other. I ask, “Why out of all the 1000s of people you could be with are you together?” Often they cite; fun to be with, a sense of humour and playfulness. I want to understand why these are such key factors in their initial attraction. I wonder what has happened, for in many couples, when they come to see me, these ‘good feelings’ have diminished.
In assessment appointments it is my experience that couples are usually anxious and in distress, so I approach my enquiry with sensitivity. By asking them what was it that first attracted them to each other, I find clients are usually quite amused by the question and by being invited to think about and recall what it was they first liked about each other and what it was that drew them to their partner or spouse.
Some responses have included:
“I liked her sense of humour and there was a rapport between us..”
“He was different, he made me laugh…”
“She was fun to be with…”
“He was fun and gentle…”
“I liked the way he surprised me, made me laugh, made me happy…”
“I felt I trusted her…”
“He was intelligent, I liked his sense of humour, we had common interests..”
“She liked my sense of humour and I felt comfortable with her…”
It is my experience that in voicing these memories, it can often defuse the tensions in the room. Maybe by recalling early feelings for each other it can begin to facilitate communication between the couple,. I admit there is sometimes a sense of mischievousness on my part. Perhaps I might be engendering an element of fun and humour too. I wonder whether this could be a common element in all beginning relationships.
There seems to be a persistent desire for mutual fun. It was Freud who first showed us that communication through humour springs from the unconscious and comes to life in our conscious awareness. He recognised moments of genuine humour can provide relief in the midst of conflict, pain and anxiety. Is humour then present in early encounters with new people as a hedge against anxiety?
Humour and fun require another to share them with. Is this a sense of ‘we’ and ‘connection’? Perhaps this can recaptured through couple therapy.