FUNNY BONE: Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbuli performing at Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s 80th birthday celebration at Artscape. Picture: Cindy Waxa
When I ask couples what initially attracted them to each other, I'm not surprised to find that "a sense of humour" appears to be one of the most common answers. However, as relationships mature, life seems to get so serious with increasing demands and stressors that laughter becomes rare.

Laughter is a vital factor in a healthy relationship, as it signifies a strong emotional connection.

Laughter makes one physically attractive to others and, the more laughter there is in a relationship, the more likely your partner is to continue being attracted to you. Of course, laughter should be appropriate, as well.

In an increasingly stressful world, it's important to look for the humour in situations and try to see the lighter side of situations. This is important for one's own state of mind as well as the relationship as a whole.

During arguments, we may sometimes realise that something that was said is rather funny, and laughter at that point may defuse the tension. This is common in healthier relationships, in which partners are more committed to a happy relationship than being right.

Being able to laugh at oneself is a sign of self-confidence. Taking ourselves too seriously can lead to high stress-levels and burnout.

Laughter impacts positively on the brain by triggering the release of endorphins or "feel-good" chemicals.

Other than making you feel good, endorphins interact with pain receptors which impact on our perception of pain – ie it promotes temporary pain relief.

* Rakhi Beekrum is a counselling psychologist based in Durban