Looks and sex dwindle – laughter is the important thing in marriage

Julie Cook and her husband Cornel in Venice

He makes me laugh at least once a day (Picture: Julie Cook)

The other day I was in my bedroom preparing for bed when the door swung open and a creature in an electric-blue wig, on his knees, crashed into the room and fell flat on his face.

I let out an involuntary scream. At first, I thought a rabid killer clown had broken into my house.

Then I saw my husband beneath the blue wig, giggling like a lunatic on the floor.   

He’d wanted to come up the stairs in it – it’s one of my daughter’s dress-up wigs – on his knees and pretend to be her. Instead, he’d tripped on the final stair and had come careering in through the door, ending up in a heap on the carpet.

I laughed so hard I thought I’d cracked a rib.

But you see: this happens most days with my 42-year-old husband, Cornel. He makes me laugh at least once a day.

I don’t mean a polite smile or a giggle. I mean properly laugh until my tummy aches and my jaw hurts. ​

While I’ve got a similar sense of humour with others, I definitely don’t laugh as much with them as I do with him.​

Some couples we know do not have the same sense of humour. Yes they might boast of great sex, or a fantastic income, or work tirelessly to keep themselves looking buff or young. 

But if I am honest, I rarely see some of them properly laughing together. They seem more to tolerate each other if anything.

So I’ve often wondered if anyone else’s marriage is like mine and Cornel’s.

Then the other day I saw that Peter Andre’s wife Emily had given an interview saying that she and Peter still make each other laugh; which was more evidence for me that a sense of humour IS the most important thing in a marriage. 

Peter Andre and Emily Andre attending the Butterfly Ball

Peter and Emily Andre have been married since 2015 (Picture: Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

When you first get together as a couple, looks and sex are often the top two priorities.

This was the case for me and my husband. When we met, he was a dashing, young 25-year-old pianist in a tuxedo and I was 28. We were both young, full of energy and fell for each other straight away.

I didn’t worry about how much we laughed. I worried about how often we hit the sack.

Like most young couples, we were at it pretty much every day but, after two children – now aged 13 and eight – sex is now much more on the backburner.

In fact, after two children there were times when it was non-existent. And we both admit we’ve both changed a lot since those early days whenever we look at pictures (he had more hair, I had fewer wrinkles!). 

But one thing has remained constant: a sense of humour and the ability to make each other laugh.  

We’ve been married 13 years. In that time we’ve had ups, downs, house moves (including from Italy to the UK), family arguments, pets’ deaths and two miscarriages. Like everyone, we’ve lived through recessions, a pandemic, money worries and more.

Julie Cook with her husband Cornel Cook

I can see myself going older and greyer with Cornel but always giggling at whatever life might throw at us (Picture: Julie Cook)

Sex and looks won’t get you through hard times – a sense of humour will. And as Emily Andre said recently of her marriage to Peter: if you can still make each other laugh after years together, you’re lucky.

Cornel has always found the funny side in everything.

When I was in the throes of an agonising labour with our first son, Alex, his head got stuck and I was prepared for theatre. Cornel got gowned up to come down to theatre too and found that both the hospital clogs he’d been given to wear were two left feet.

He entertained me as I sucked on gas and air, hobbling around the delivery suite and falling over.

And for a few glorious seconds I laughed. I forgot the pain.

When I was in hospital recovering from a gallbladder removal operation in 2020, he greeted me when I returned to my ward with a cardboard hospital bedpan on his head as a hat. I laughed for the first time since my operation and winced as my stitches pulled.

And don’t get me started on the ‘code names’ he gives people we know.

We never row. Like anyone, we bicker over silly things from time to time — but even then, one of us will usually say something daft and we’ll both collapse in fits of giggles.

And then – poof – the argument is forgotten.

​Of course, some things are impossible to laugh through. After a miscarriage when I broke down in tears he gave me a hug and didn’t joke around. We were both grieving.

I like to think that for our kids, seeing Cornel and I laugh a lot teaches them that a sense of humour is the key to a happy, long marriage too.

As for the future, I can see myself going older and greyer with Cornel but always giggling at whatever life might throw at us.

Looks can fade, sex can dwindle out.

But a sense of humour? That is forever.


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