Using Humor to Resolve Conflict in Your Relationship

By Roz Jones

As caregivers sometimes conflicts can brew all day between you and the one you are providing care. There are times when as a caregiver the combatants are at a crisis point, and it feels like the entire office is holding their collective breath waiting to see what happens next. At this point, they’re ready for bloodshed, or at the very least, some very strong words. 

The last thing they expect is for one of the key players in the conflict to open their mouth and… make a joke?

Maybe it doesn’t feel like a resolution to the conflict, but actually, laughter goes far beyond being the clichéd ‘best medicine.’  How? First of all, laughter takes the tension out of the situation, which exactly is what’s needed to regain perspective, build stronger bonds, and yes, sometimes smooth over the differences. 

How then do you effectively use humor to resolve conflicts?

1. Make sure that both parties are ‘in on the joke.’ By keeping humor wholesome – not at the expense of the other person, you’re focusing on inviting them to laugh with you, rather than laughing at them. How can you tell if you’re doing it right? Humor is tricky, and so your best indicator of getting it right is to gauge the other person’s reactions. If they’re not laughing, chances are they don’t find it funny. Stop!

2. Check to make sure that you’re using humor as a defensive weapon rather than as a positive tool. If you’re using humor to mask emotions that you’d rather not deal with right now, then it’s time to put a flag on the play. Stop immediately and ask yourself what it is that you’re not dealing with and why. 

3. Work on that sense of humor. Every good comedian knows how to read their audience. The same goes for using humor with another person, especially in a situation that’s already a conflict. Watch the nonverbal cues. What language are you using? Keep the tone positive and light, and mean it. That means don’t use jokes as a means of cruelty. Lastly, consider what you might use as an inside joke. Inside jokes not only keep the situation light but create a deeper intimacy with whom you conflict.

4. Most importantly, be Playful! A little bit of silly fun is a good thing. Not sure how to tap into that kind of fun and crazy side? Explore humor in other ways so that you always have a repertoire to fall back on. Watch things you find funny on TV or in movies. Listen to jokes. Read the funnies. Find that side of you that likes to play and encourage it with creativity and fun. 

And no matter what, cut yourself some slack. It takes practice to be funny. Keep at it, and you’ll find your natural sense of humor, and be able to tap into it when you need to. That conflict won’t know what hit it!

De-Clutter Your Life; Your Family Will Thank You

You’ve spent a lifetime gathering personal belongings and acquiring the things that make your house a home. It’s hard to imagine not using them or having access to them when you need them. How many of these things have gone unused and unnoticed for a while? 


As we get older, we move past the accumulation stage of life and simply settle into living with what we have. Eventually what we have may become more than we will ever need again. It might be time to de-clutter and downsize. The more you hold on to, the more you leave behind for those you love to deal with. That’s not a very smart move. 

Aside from heirlooms and assets of value, our homes are generally filled with things that no longer serve us or we simply don’t need. At some point it makes sense to clear things out and start to streamline. Here are some practical dos and don’ts for de-cluttering your life to make things easier for your family. 

Do- Keep things of value: Your antiques, art, and family heirlooms have value. Don’t discard or give away items that are worth something financially or emotionally. 


Do- Sort through closets, drawers, and storage: These spaces tend to become black holes that contain unused and unimportant items. Tackle these spaces and reduce, recycle, and donate items you are no longer using. 

Do- Enlist your family’s help: Ask your family to help you determine what is worth keeping and what is worth letting go of. You don’t have to accept every recommendation they have but their impartial advice might help you make decisions easier. 

Don’t- Overthink things: People hold onto things for a lot of weird reasons. Don’t overthink the usefulness of something you haven’t looked for in years. If you aren’t actively using an item, consider getting rid of it. 

Don’t- Forget others need donations: Many of the things you aren’t using could benefit someone else. From a homeless shelter to helping a woman back on her feet, your unused items could help give someone else a brand new start. Be willing to donate gently used items to make a difference. 


Don’t- Be afraid: De-cluttering isn’t about losing your things. It’s about taking responsible action to streamline your life and be aware of how much you own and if it serves you. Don’t be afraid of letting go and clearing up space for easier living and a clutter-free home. 

Part of prepping for the later part of life is clearing out the clutter. Making things easier for the people who will have to manage your space for you after you are gone is kind and responsible. Do your part to de-clutter and get rid of the items that no longer have value or serve your needs. 

Using Investments to Augment Income and Medical Care Expenses

There are lots of ways to save for the future. From a simple savings account to a retirement fund, there are benefits and disadvantages for every plan. The best scenario is a diversified plan that covers a wide range of savings options. 

Investments are a savings strategy that can grow income that augments your retirement income and helps pay for out of pocket medical expenses. As we age, the bigger issues become health related. Having adequate coverage for a wide range of possibilities is valuable. We never know what sort of medical and other expenses we may have but some include:

  • Long-term hospital stays
  • Medication and ancillary equipment needs
  • Out of home placement
  • Estate management 
  • And more 

Making investments can help grow income passively while you earn income throughout your career. Once you retire, your sources of income work in conjunction with one another to preserve your standard of living. 

If you have medical coverage in place after retirement, there may still be out of pocket expenses. Leveraging investment income can help offset those costs and may have fewer penalties than accessing other sources of income. Your financial planner can help you evaluate the best investment plan for your budget. 

If you start investing in your younger years, you have a great chance of growing your income with simple and consistent investments. If you are starting later, no worries you can still grow your income and use strategies to make up for lost time. Either way, investing will help you generate income that supports your needs later in life. 

Here are some simple investment ideas for your consideration: 

  • Invest in the stock market
  • Invest in commercial property
  • Invest in tax-deferred plans
  • Invest in insurance products

Some investments can be liquidated faster than others when you need income. Others have penalties depending on when and how much income you collect. Your financial planner can help you diversify your investments so you have an assortment of options to grow your money and collect it when you need it. 

Investments are one of many tools you can use to secure your income for the future and plan for your end-of-life needs. Making small, simple investments over time will render big and important rewards when you need them most. These investments become assets that add to your estate and become part of your legacy from a life well lived. 

Parents and Divorce: Protecting Your Kids in Case You Die

Protecting your children after your death is vital. Generally, if one parent dies, the other assumes full legal and physical custody without any issues. If both parents perish, a will can determine custody. What happens when a divorced parent passes away? 

Divorce can be messy. Not everyone has an amicable co-parenting situation. Sometimes divorced parents don’t share custody of children equally for safety reasons. Sometimes an absent parent is unable or unwilling to parent effectively. Sometimes an absent parent does not have the proper home or income to be a full time custodian. 

In the cases where an absent parent is not the ideal primary care giver, it may make sense to create documentation to legally support your custody wishes. It may also make sense to put fiscal parameters in place to support your children financially no matter who has physical custody. 

If you can’t support the idea of an ex having primary custody for valid reasons – not simply due to disliking them – you can make a guardian recommendation in your last will and testament. Be sure to list and provide evidence why you are naming the guardian and make sure your will is notarized and that the guardian has their own copy. If your decision is contested, your child may be appointed an attorney to represent them in a custody hearing. 

Often times a grandparent will be named as successor guardian. It is important to know that while grandparents are vital for the development and support of a child, there are no built-in grandparent rights. It is important that you take steps to name the people you desire to have access to your children in the event of your death and advocate for their relationship via your will. This will carry great weight with the court. 


You may also safeguard your assets and financial support for your children by naming a guardian or fiscal payee other than your ex-spouse to manage funds and make financial decisions on your behalf. Your attorney or financial planner will have information about how to set up a trust or other fiduciary protection. 

If you are divorced and do not have a positive relationship with your ex, it is important to safeguard your wishes and protect your child if you die. Take steps to secure their custody and financial stability so you can rest easy knowing they are well cared for.  

Your Disabled Child Will Benefit from These Estate-Planning Tips

One of the biggest fears that parents of disabled adults face is not knowing who will care for their children when they die. Parenting disabled adults is a life-long commitment. Safety measures are in place that allows parents to make legal and medical decisions for their adult children despite them being over the age of eighteen. 

In some states, a conservatorship or guardianship is the legal means that parents have to give consent for medical treatment, housing authority, and helping their children access whatever they need. Protecting this legal authority is important. Without it there is no authority for giving consent and many disabled adults lack the cognition to give informed consent. 

If you are the parent of a disabled adult child, you and your child will benefit from these tips: 

Tip #1. Find a successor guardian- Naming a successor guardian is a simple legal task. Taking the initiative to name a successor guardian while you are alive will streamline the process and prevent a break in protection for your adult child. Often times a successor may be an adult sibling or a secondary relative though being related is not a requirement.  

Tip #2. Access resources in your community- Many disabled adults have resources available to them such as regional centers. These resources may be able to help with accessing attorneys or other programs that can help protect and serve your adult disabled child.

Tip #3. Begin to think about housing- If your adult disabled child has been living with you, it may be time to explore options outside of your home. There are often group settings or shared housing options available or perhaps there are family members ready to assist. Making a plan before you need it will help make transitions smoother.  

Tip #4. Encourage as much independence as possible- Your adult disabled child may have opportunities for employment or social activities through the Opportunity Center or other programs. Foster as much independence as possible while protecting and honoring their limitations. Helping your child be as independent as possible will serve them when you can not be there as their primary care provider. 

Families supporting an adult disabled child face unique circumstances in long-range planning. Finding the right support system and getting things in place for when you are unable to manage their care will make things easier when the time comes.