To this day, I have no idea why I went to school for psychology. Did you know that at one time, I was considering a career as a marriage counselor? And do you know what stopped me?
Way too damn depressing.
However, had writer and comedian Dani Klein Modisett written her latest book (her first was the well-received Afterbirth…stories you won’t read in Parents magazine) when I was in college, perhaps I would’ve thought twice. Maybe I would’ve laid the book down and pondered: “What if I took the humor approach to therapy? It’s not exactly scientific – ol’ Professor Whatsisname would frown on it – but it works, right? Maybe laughter really is the best medicine. Well, for issues of the mind, at any rate.”
In so many ways, this blend of humor and advice is a revelation; not of the religious awakening kind, but of the “ha, ha, of course that’s right!” kind. Take My Spouse, Please: How to Keep Your Marriage Happy, Healthy, and Thriving by Following the Rules of Comedy (Trumpeter, July 7, 2015) is an absolute must-read for couples in search of marital bliss – provided they’re not afraid to laugh at themselves.
Believe it or not, the cardinal rules of comedy can and do apply to long-term relationships, and Modisett offers 13 axioms of marriage that, in truth, are all-encompassing life lessons. She provides us with plenty of hilarious and very relevant anecdotes from marriage counselors as well as other comedians and in the end, we learn one irrevocable fact: Humor works. It really, really does.
FYI: The following video has some NSFW moments.
What I find most appealing is the presentation. Not only did I think I’d be eternally depressed being a marriage therapist, but I was also convinced I’d be bored. And in my experience, most books about marriage advice really are boring. However, Modisett’s insightful jaunt is a blast to read because at first, you’re just laughing along with the anecdotes and personal stories. The logical, effective advice playfully and skillfully woven into the pages? You don’t immediately appreciate it.
When I noticed, I started to read the chapters – each one of the aforementioned 13 axioms – more carefully. The first rule, Shut Up, and the second, Listen, are somehow both wildly humorous and deeply psychological. A good therapist will always advise couples to stop mindlessly fighting and listen. And by the way, “listening” is not the same as “hearing.” Then there’s Pay Attention to Timing, one of my personal favorites, and the surprisingly comical Don’t Quit after a Bad Night.
If you really think about it, each of the 13 axioms tackle common problems just about every couple faces at some point, and still manages to make us laugh. Yes, we can even laugh after that disappointing night in bed. There’s no droning. There are no detailed explanations citing a hundred case studies with a conclusion that makes your eyes roll up into your head.
I am a big proponent of common sense – where the hell did this disappear to? – and I firmly believe in the necessity of laughter in any relationship.
So, maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love the book. I can laugh at Modisett’s sharp humor one minute, and then nod in quiet understanding when she learns about the importance of “showing up.” When her boyfriend and eventual husband said, “When you’re married you go to stuff you don’t want to go to. You show up. That’s being married,” I wanted to applaud.
And in the end, that’s precisely what Modisett deserves — A standing ovation. She won’t hear it the way she hears it on stage, but I imagine she’ll still appreciate it.
For more Dani Modisett, check out her web series, How to Stay Married.
Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2015)
This debut novel imagines romance without being “plugged in” all the time. What if there were no emails, texts, pins, or Tweets? In Friedland’s first book, often funny and definitely enlightening, lawyer Evie Rosen decides to abandon it all; the Facebook page disappears, she tosses her smartphone, and then she takes a stab at “real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult.” Can Evie find love in a world that tries to make constant demands on your attention and time?
Read and find out.