When Humor Isn’t Funny

The Problem:

I tend to have a pretty sarcastic sense of humor, but my partner doesn’t think it’s funny.

The Solution:

People do have very different ways of expressing humor, and sarcasm is certainly a technique some enjoy using.  Sarcasm is basically saying the opposite of what we think is true.  “Oh, yes, you are a great driver!”  Often couples will dish out this sarcasm to each other on a regular basis, saying that it’s fine, and they enjoy expressing themselves that way.  Since often sarcasm is basically insulting (saying someone’s behavior is positive, when the sarcasm is saying really we don’t think it is at all …), the problem can come when there is tension in the relationship, or even just tension within the person themselves because of work or other outside sources.  When we’re stressed, often our confidence is diminished.  At times like that, hearing an insulting comment (even when delivered supposedly as humor), really hurts and can cause the person to lash back or withdraw from their partner.  If you are really tuned in to your partner’s emotional strengths that day, a little sarcasm may work.  Otherwise, treat it like a very strong cooking spice – use it very sparingly for best effect.


Learn specific skills to stay tuned in to your partner’s emotional energy in our PAIRS workshops, which are offered throughout the year.