Fr. Jim Martin: 3 Ways Humor Can Help You Find A Spouse


humor man alone

“Know any prayers for finding a husband?” asked a young woman.

She was standing in front of a table at which I was signing books, following an evening lecture in her parish.   

“Not…really,” I said. 

An elderly woman in line behind her piped up: “St. Anne, St. Anne, find me a man!” 

She was quoting a prayer to the mother of Mary (i.e., Jesus’s grandmother). Then another woman further back in line laughed and shouted out, “As fast as you can!”

Lots of Catholic women have used that prayer over the centuries. (Maybe some men, too, though “St. Anne, St. Anne, find me a wife,” doesn’t rhyme as well.) It’s natural to desire a life partner and it’s natural to call on the saints – and on God – for help. Asking God for help is as old as the psalms – and maybe older. (And by the way, the saints don’t answer our prayers: God does that. The saints simply pray for us.)

But besides offering their prayers, the saints can do something else for those looking for a husband or wife. They can give us an example. Specifically, in the area of humor.

Many Catholics think of the saints as dour, gloomy and morose. And why not? Most statues, painting and mosaics of the saints make them look like they’ve just smelled a piece of bad cheese. 

But most of the saints had a terrific sense of humor, which was informed by their deep faith. Blessed John XXIII, who was pope from 1958 to 1963, was once asked by a journalist, “How many people work in the Vatican?” 

He said, “About half of them.”

St. Philip Neri, a 16th-century Italian saint, once walked around Rome with half his beard shaved off as a way of getting people to poke fun at him. And St. Teresa of Ávila, the 16th-century Carmelite, wrote, “I am more afraid of one unhappy sister than a crowd of evil spirits.

But what can these humorous saints – who were, after all, celibate – teach single Catholics about finding a spouse? 


First, humor is attractive. That’s a practical application of this virtue. We can tell jokes about ourselves to deflate our egos, which is always a good thing, since we all have a tendency to get puffed up. It’s good for your spiritual life. But it’s also attractive: People who laugh at themselves (in a healthy way, not in a denigrating way) show they have a sense of humility.

The saints’ self-deprecating humor enabled them to attract others around them. (How else would they have started all those religious orders?) From a single person’s point of view, who wants to get married to someone who is conceited or, as we used to say in high school, “stuck up”? Showing that you have a sense of humor about yourself is not only healthy, but attractive.


Second, humor is healing. The saints knew that a well-meaning joke can ease tension. Once, when John XXIII was speaking to a large group, the microphone went dead. Rather than castigating those involved he said, “Don’t worry: I didn’t say anything interesting anyway!” 

And when a boyfriend or girlfriend is going through a tough time, healthy humor can be a blessing. Laughter aids the physical body by releasing endorphins, chemicals that relax the body and reduce feelings of frustration. 

Laughter also reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol; it even increases blood flow through the circulatory system. So laughter is a real gift to your partner. 

Plus it helps them to listen better. Why? Because when they’re relaxed, they are more open. So: do you have something difficult to discuss regarding your relationship? If you have the discussion in the midst of a relationship characterized by humor, it might be heard more easily.


Third, humor offers perspective. Who are you more likely to be attracted to? The person who freaks out about every little thing – a flat tire, a spilled glass of wine, a waiter not bringing the check fast enough – or someone who can laugh at the little stuff

Using humor shows that you have perspective on life: You know what to take seriously and what not to take so seriously. Also, humor gives you perspective: If you can laugh (with yourself or with others) about the crazy things that happen on dates or in relationships, you’ve got a better chance at being a healthier and more relaxed person – which, again, is attractive to others.

So for God’s sakes (and your own), laugh! You might even find that humor ends up helping you laugh later on…with your husband or wife.



Editor’s note

Learn more about how to implement saintly humor in Father James Martin’s bestselling book Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life (HarperOne). 



  1. Alexandra-549295 March 14, 2012 Reply

    I like your point of view, thanks for the article, it is a matter of ” just be yourself” kind of thing, not just with the guys, but with any one, when you face another person on those terms, conversation flows easily, besides if you act like you are so “serious and all that” , probably you will not get a chance to make a new friend that day, enjoying life as it comes, taking chances, and having a positive attitude, always open “doors”, it is already spread out between the guys.. ” women are always fighting, screaming ,complaining, mad and so on..” …so let’s just “rewrite” what it has been said about us. LOL : )

  2. Javier-784418 March 20, 2012 Reply

    Thank you so much for the article !!
    It was so funny :)

  3. Elizabeth-753085 March 20, 2012 Reply

    Love the article..humer helps! It really does. It show s passion, love and a sense of well being and care. It is a unique gift for one’s soul and any relationship.

  4. Emile-736223 March 20, 2012 Reply

    Sense of humor certainly places you half way or more through any thing a person needs to accomplish, just dress it up with respect and understanding.Life is not that serious,don’t worry be Happy.All needed is to embrace it as a nice joke.I ma the richest person in this world with no money,and life is good and beautiful.Emile

  5. Errnesto-86993 March 21, 2012 Reply

    I met my girlfriend in the least expected place where people usually tell me not to look for a relationships. One Friday night, I was home bored and in my pj’s watching boring TV programs. I got a call from some friends asking me to go to a bar. I normally refused going to the bars because my experience with bars has in fact not been so good. However since the invitation came from my friends, I said, come on boy, don’t be boring and lazy, get your butt out of the coach and go share some good times with your friends. So I did, not expecting to find anything that night. However when I walked into the place, a very nice lady caught my eye and I said “hi” to her. One hour went by and I tried to look for the lady but she was gone, however after I went back to my sit, and when I was sitting down on my chair, I saw her across in the opposite side from my corner, I walked straight to her and I invite her to dance with me. The rest is history, we clicked right away and now I am more happy than I have never been. Sometimes it is good to go out of our comfort zone to find very nice people. Love my new girl friend! I hope I will marry her.

  6. Gregory-603346 March 22, 2012 Reply

    “‘Know any prayers for finding a husband?’ asked a young woman…But what can these humorous saints – who were, after all, celibate – teach single Catholics about finding a spouse? …First, humor is attractive.”
    There’s a better lesson than humor to be learned from these celibate saints; namely, a healthy virgin is attractive, whether she is especially humorous or not. Humor is exceedingly common and has become over-rated to the point of distraction..

    • Raymond R. April 6, 2012 Reply


      Keep looking for that special virgin and never give up, even though you may reach 80 years of age!!!

  7. Mary-850081 May 9, 2012 Reply

    THIS IS SO VERY TRUE!!!!!!! I have always felt this way about humor. Most people prefer to be around others who are pleasant, lighthearted, full of joy, can laugh at their own
    mistakes, and don’t get bent out of shape over every little mishap.

    My mother always told me that “you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar, so never have a sour attitude or no one will want to be around you”. I have never forgotten what she told me and it has molded my personality into someone who is pleasant, upbeat, and positive (at least that is what my friends tell me).

    However, I am still searching for the man that God has chosen for me. WHERE IS HE? I guess I need God to put his name and face up on a sign in LIGHTS, LOL. Still patiently waiting……Mary

  8. Anna-838474 May 11, 2012 Reply

    Great article! Thank you for posting it. Tips like that always helpful.

  9. I have always known that the world needs more clowns! lol

  10. Elena-892127 October 12, 2012 Reply

    wow this is great!!hoping to find my match too..i am seriously looking and waiting the right time of the will of God

  11. Sue-906387 November 27, 2012 Reply

    Wow. This is really GREAT stuff. Thanks a lot Fr. James Martin. We will always need humour in life as life is Not easy! I pray my life partner does have a sense of humour.

  12. Meesch-691047 January 4, 2013 Reply

    St. Anne, St. Anne
    Find me a funny man
    One who is a true gem in a sea of sand
    please do so, but don’t let him be bland
    St. Anne St. Anne
    find me a man
    as fast as you can

  13. Nathan-723492 January 18, 2013 Reply

    Sure, the problem, though, is that I have found not too many girls on here have a sense of humor. I usually send witty or funny messages just to weigh the person’s sense of humor and gauge their response, but alas, not too many “get it”.

    • Marian-885268 March 31, 2013 Reply

      Nathan, you are right: not too many “get it'”, with jokes or funny expressions. I sympathize with you. I do laugh at your remarks and way of seeing things. What is funny is, I am twice your age!! That is to laugh at as well. You see the things right I think, so continue your way and bet that you get to know someone of your age, who can also appreciate the way you are, the things you say and do. Happy Easter!! (today)

  14. Andrew-290721 March 14, 2013 Reply

    I take myself as seriously as a $3 bill, but it hasn’t helped. I guess I could try an arrow through my head, or maybe I need a seltzer bottle or something. I mean, I have Monty Python and Warner Brothers cartoons practically memorized– what more could someone looking for humor want? Last week, my colleague was telling me that the head gasket in her car needed to be replaced. I said, “That’s no problem. When you need a new head gasket, you simply gather all the other gaskets in the car and call an election. The gasket with the most votes becomes the new head gasket.” I even put a Catholic joke on my web site that I created about seventeen years ago– no luck. I guess no one wants to marry a Catholic joker; they all want a Catholic ace or king.

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