Five Stages To Humor

I can easily find the humor in most situations.  The exception to this rule (aren’t there always exceptions to rules?) is when it involves me interpreting my hubby’s behavior as being purpose-driven.  Hands down, I would rather laugh than carry a grudge, but in the midst of a frustrating event, the mere mention that “I will laugh about this someday” makes me want to inflict bodily harm upon the person who dared to utter such ridiculous words.

Now, let me explain what I mean by “purpose-driven” behavior.  It is something that my husband does (or in some cases, doesn’t do) that drives me nuts, and I feel like he’s doing it on purpose (which may or may not be the case.)  I won’t keep you in the dark (for too long, at least) about what has sparked my thoughts on this subject.  Next week, I will explain the relationship between laundry and lunches in our house, and how that relationship messes with the relationship between my husband and me. 

I recognized five stages that I went through before I was able to see the humor in, and subsequently laugh about, our situation.

Stage 1 – Frustration

This is the stage where the annoying behavior is first suspected to be intentional, with the dual purpose to (1) irritate; and/or (2) get them out of doing something

Stage 2 – Anger

Upon suspecting that the aggravation is intentional, anger sets in.  Like a pot of water on a stove, anger simmers until it boils, spilling over the edge of the pot.  Patience wears thin.  If the other person is smart, they will not ask if it’s that time of month.  (If this happens, stage 5 will not.)

Stage 3 – Revenge

Revenge is the boiling water that spills over the pot (to carry the metaphor forward.)  By returning the aggravation, it can provide some (momentary) relief.  This stage can be skipped entirely, but if not, here’s where things can get ugly.  It can also shed light on the childish degeneration of the situation, which paves the way for stage 4.

Stage 4 – Acceptance

In this stage, the person’s behavior is either accepted for what it is, or the issue is discussed and the person is persuaded to change.  (Note:  In my experience, usually the behavior is accepted.  The success rate of the ‘change’ option is low.  If you are successful in persuasion to change, please, please share your tips.  If you must write a book and sell it to me, name your price.  Seriously.)

Stage 5 – Laughter

If both parties (and the relationship) have survived the previous four stages, then stage 5 is a welcome release of tension.  This is where one can finally look back on the situation and glimpse at least some of the humor that friends and family have seen all along.  This stage lasts until (1) the aggravating behavior returns, or (2) a new aggravating behavior is introduced.

Have you experienced these stages?  Do you have any to add?

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31 thoughts on “Five Stages To Humor

  1. 1959duke May 3, 2011 / 6:57 AM

    We laughed at my mother-laws funeral. Needless to say that didn’t go over to well.

    • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 10:06 AM

      Oops! Generally, laughing at a funeral is frowned upon, so I imagine that wasn’t well received. Although it does make me curious as to why you were laughing 🙂

      • 1959duke May 3, 2011 / 2:03 PM

        Because her family members were fussing over where to sit. Like it made a difference to her mom?

        • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 8:57 PM

          Well, Duke, that is kind of funny. Sometimes when we’re grieving, we focus on the trivial matters as a distraction.

        • pattisj May 3, 2011 / 9:09 PM

          She probably knew they would be, and was laughing, as well. No one knows like Mom.

        • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 9:16 PM

          That’s a nice way to look at it 🙂

  2. Tori Nelson May 3, 2011 / 8:35 AM

    I’ve always wondered why I can laugh so easily about everything but the Oops! Man Syndrome.

    • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 10:07 AM

      I think aggravation can be cumulative over the years, so laughing once in a while is necessary to prevent major issues 🙂

  3. carldagostino May 3, 2011 / 8:46 AM

    I think this works if the matter is a nuisance but not when it is spiteful or harmful. Of course I understand that this behavior is not included in your stages.

    • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 10:11 AM

      Oh no, I’m not talking spiteful actions. That is a whole other (bigger) issue. I’m referring to the harmless annoyances that crop up in relationships.

  4. Carol Ann Hoel May 3, 2011 / 9:42 AM

    I don’t know how to comment. When we live with other people, exposure to aggravating behavior is inevitable. Purpose driven, not usually. Still aggravating. Options: discuss and diffuse or let pressure build for an explosion later on.

    Since you have not revealed the aggravating behavior, one may not consider whether it is over-the-top aggravating behavior or ordinary aggravating behavior.

    I have a suggestion that I read somewhere in time past. I’m not sure it will work. I’ve never forgotten it. First, acknowledge that we are aggravated when our expectations are unmet or we feel our rights have been violated. We could lower our expectations and/or reduce the level of what we claim to be our rights. This adjustment in our attitude would lower the level of our aggravation. If you don’t really like this option (I didn’t), I guess that shows we are both set in our ways. Ha! 🙂 Something to think about.

    • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 10:27 AM

      I know I was vague in this post about what the issue was, but I didn’t want the post to get too long by going into the details today. I’m not good at lowering my expectations, but I’m learning to in some areas, as the “boys” take on more of the household duties 🙂 I am set in my ways and have definite ideas, so I really do work to lighten up (but it is a struggle.) I can give you another example of the type of annoyance that I’m referring to, so you can get an idea of where I’m coming from.

      Years ago, my husband used bar soap in the shower (we now have shower gel) and when it would get down to a sliver of soap, he would drop it on the shower stall floor, where it would dry onto the pan and get stuck in the holes of the drain. He wouldn’t bother to clean it, so I would do it. I asked him to throw the soap away and not drop it on the floor because it was really hard to get the soap out of the drain holes. He continued to leave the soap slivers on the floor. To me, his actions said, “It’s too much work to clean up after myself, so I’m going to do this anyway, even though I know it bothers you.” From his perspective, he could have seen it as, “It’s just soap, it will dissolve. I don’t see what the big deal is.” (My resolution: I stopped using the shower and turned all cleaning of it over to him. I have not used or cleaned that space in over nine years. I couldn’t lower my expectations and he wouldn’t change his behavior, so I removed myself from the situation so it was no longer a nagging aggravation to me…and I was no longer nagging my husband!)

      • nrhatch May 3, 2011 / 4:55 PM

        That’s an awesome solution, Janna. You rock!

        • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 8:57 PM

          Our shower looks horrible, but at least I don’t have premature frown lines 😉

        • Carol Ann Hoel May 4, 2011 / 10:25 AM

          I agree with Nancy. You solved it in a way that obviously satisfied both of you. You lowered your expectation of having a perfectly clean shower. You could have continued to agonize over it, but you chose not. Good for you, Janna.

        • jannatwrites May 4, 2011 / 7:53 PM

          Yes that issue was resolved, but I found there’s a line of other ones waiting to take its place 🙂 We work around it, though!

  5. SuziCate May 3, 2011 / 12:35 PM

    Not sure I’ve experienced this in quite the same manner. I’ve gotten slightly aggravated at things I’ve later found humorous, but I don’t know that I’ve actually gotten angry. Maybe, when I read your post with the explanation I’ll better understand. At any rate, they say that laughter is the best medicine!

    • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 8:39 PM

      It’s highly likely that you are far more patient and understanding than I am 🙂 Humor is a great way to diffuse aggravation, so if you skip the anger stage, that’s even better. Thanks for reading, Suzicate!

  6. crumbl May 3, 2011 / 1:33 PM

    No question, I do things, or don’t do things, that drive LRHG crazy. She reciprocates … we’re talking a lion’s mane of hair here that sheds everywhere. So, a little give, a little take, we both have our issues, and try to overlook them. Have our moments of contretemps. Stuff happens, life goes on.

    • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 8:55 PM

      Well said, Crumbl. That ‘s a good description of what we’ve got, too. To balance things out, my post next week will reveal the top things I do/don’t do that bug my husband, as well as the one issue that prompted this post. I know you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting for that one [dripping with sarcasm.]

      • crumbl May 4, 2011 / 12:13 PM

        Actually, I will. I always enjoy reading your posts, JT. Your writing resonates.

        • jannatwrites May 4, 2011 / 7:54 PM

          You’re very kind, Crumbl. I hope I can hold up under the pressure and produce a coherent post!

  7. nrhatch May 3, 2011 / 4:59 PM

    If I note that I’m “frustrated” . . . I tune in.

    I generally choose not to get worked up about minor aggravations.

    I do choose HOW to respond.
    For example, I love that you now refuse to clean that shower

    And I smile . . . because people are such silly beasties at times. 😀

    • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 9:12 PM

      Nancy, if you think the shower thing is silly, you’ll find next week’s story ridiculous. My problem (well, one of them) is that I tend to be a perfectionist and I resent lazy/sloppy work (or what I perceive as lazy & sloppy). That’s my issue, not anyone else’s, but not cleaning the shower was the only way I could think to stop the build up of resentment/anger. It would be sad to split up over soap slivers, wouldn’t it?

  8. pattisj May 3, 2011 / 9:16 PM

    I don’t know how long you’ve been married, but after 35 years together, I realized somewhere along the way this is the way God wired the man, and maybe it’s my attitude that needs changing. He is a wonderful husband, and the goodness far outweighs those quirky things that used to get my dander up.

    • jannatwrites May 3, 2011 / 9:26 PM

      That is a good attitude to have. (Perhaps I will get there one day, too :))

      We’ve been married for fourteen years, and for the most part, we see eye to eye. The main sideshows have to with the things that need to get done, but neither one of us wants to do them. Once I wised up to his “mess it up so I don’t have to do it anymore” gig, he’s had more difficulty wiggling out of doing stuff. And I’ve gotten more creative in working around it (as I’ll explain in next week’s post.) Hehehe…

      • pattisj May 3, 2011 / 9:35 PM

        Can’t wait to read it!

  9. Patty May 3, 2011 / 11:39 PM

    No sarcasm on that list. My husband lives in the land of sarcasm. Of course sarcasm could be a blending of other stages too. More to ponder.

    • jannatwrites May 4, 2011 / 7:52 PM

      I have a vacation home in the land of sarcasm; it’s quite lovely 😉

      To me sarcasm is just a part of daily life, so I say it fits in every step…but maybe not for everyone!

      I’m glad you stopped by, Patty.

  10. Blossom Dreams May 9, 2011 / 9:09 AM

    Love how you have described anger as a pot of water ready to boil over, caused usually by some frustration or other, because that’s exactly what if feels/looks like.

    At the end of the day most anger makes us look quite ugly. I think the key is definitely to a) accept one another’s differences and to b) laugh – exactly as you say! 😀 xx

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2011 / 8:12 PM

      Thanks, Blossom! Anger isn’t the prettiest emotion, but sometimes it just happens. As long as we control it (not the other way around) we’ll be okay. Laughter is my favorite response ever – I’ve read that it actually has health benefits (added bonus :))

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