Sunday, May 18, 2008

Never Go To Bed Angry

Once in a while, often at bridal showers or other such events, I'll be in a group that will start dispensing marital advice. Some of it is sound and wise, and I always learn from the tips on kindness and unselfishness given by women whose marriages have lasted through many years and many children. At times, however, the advice-fests fall back on popular wisdom--which, it often seems, is more naive than it is wise.

One of the most popular pithy sayings is this: "Never go to bed angry." I think it was popularized by Ann Landers in a column many years ago, and it had found its way into marriage books and people's idea of what makes a good marriage.

I suppose it sounds good and all--make up before you go to bed so that an argument doesn't fester all night. But when it's midnight and you still don't agree but have determined not to go to bed angry, the only alternative is to stay up and fight. And that doesn't seem likely to put anyone in a better mood about their marriage or engender spousal love.

I have a better idea--when you're angry, go directly to bed. Do not pass GO. Do not collect two hundred dollars. More importantly, don't amass two hundred harsh words, hurled in anger at your spouse, two hundred words you will later regret. Tell your wife (husband) you love her (him), and go to bed. Don't avoid your problem, just agree to solve it in the morning. I've noticed that over half my problems seem less awful after I've slept well. When you argue with someone you love, you get tense, tired, and cranky. You blow issues out of proportion. The argument takes on a life of its own, and you're furious at each other, but you don't always remember why. Which is why it helps to sleep on it.

I'm not saying that you should storm out of the room and go to bed in a huff every time your spouse disagrees with you. But I am suggesting that one of you could say, "Dear, it's clear we disagree about this issue. I love you, and I don't want to fight. Let's sleep on it, and see if we can't come to a peaceful resolution in the morning." Then, in the morning, when you're well-rested and you're emotions have cooled, when a good night's sleep has given you a brighter outlook on life and on your spouse, you can follow through. Chances are that most problems will have evaporated by then, and the ones that remain can be solved peacefully, when you're in a more loving mood.

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1 comment:

  1. You know, the best marital advice i've heard to date (also given at a bridal shower) is, "If you and your husband on the verge of fighting, stop and have a cookie. It might just be low blood sugar." I'm taking that one and running with it.