Want to know one simple way to make your relationship stronger? Of course you do. It might sound obvious, but according to a study published last week in Personal Relationships, couples who laugh together stay together. We mean this literally. Read on.
Psychologists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill surveyed 71 couples who had been dating for an average of four years about the quality of their partnerships. Then, they taped them recounting how they first met. The more time couples spent laughing simultaneously during their story, the more highly they rated their relationship quality, closeness, and supportiveness. The study also found that women laughed more than men (tough crowd, eh?).
Beyond the obvious fact that laughter makes people happier, the act of laughing with your partner can be an act of encouragement—just as one-sided chuckling can be a sign that you don’t totally get each other’s humor. “We can all think of a time when we were laughing and the person next to us just sat there totally silent,” Laura Kurtz, one of the study’s authors, told TIME. “All of a sudden that one moment takes a nosedive. We wonder why the other person isn’t laughing, what’s wrong with them, or maybe what’s wrong with us, and what might that mean for our relationship.”
While it’s not clear if laughing together actually improves relationships or if happier couples just tend to laugh more at the same things, there’s no way it can hurt to try and make each other chuckle. As a bonus, laughter is good for your health. So next time your S.O. succumbs to a giggle fit or tells a silly joke, make an effort to join in. It won’t hurt you, and it might just do good things for your relationship.