Recently I came across an article in a woman’s magazine that listed “new rules” for marriage and it debunked the common “myths” of marital relationships. One of the myths was: Never go to bed angry. If you don’t hash through every conflict right away, it’ll lead to resentment and blowups.
For years most of us have heard the saying, “Never go to bed angry.” It actually comes from the scripture in Ephesians 4 where Paul writes: …do not let the sun go down while you are still angry… (NIV). Often people will interpret that to mean they cannot go to bed until they have settled every last detail of the argument. Couples will stay up till the wee hours of the morning hammering at the issues—and each other—trying to get to a resolution. I’m sure the verse does not literally meandon’t go to sleep until you’ve completely solved the problem in a way that is totally acceptable to both of you. What it does mean is that you need to let go of the anger, even when the problem is not solved.
But in the article the author went on to give the explanation or the “new rule” regarding this. It was interesting in that it went on to say that conflict is better solved after a good night’s rest and that you should sleep on it. There is wisdom in knowing that sometimes in the middle of a very intense argument, it is better to chill out for a while and come back to it. After all, how often in the heat of the battle have words flown out of your mouth in anger that you really didn’t mean? How often have you ended up regretting what you said?
When you are in the midst of a blow out and things are getting very heated, one of the two of you needs to catch it and put the brakes on. Usually it is the one who is the leastangry, because the one of you who is the angriest won’t see it. Call a time out and take a break, sleep on it if you have to. It can be difficult to do, but try your best in the middle of the disagreement to take notice of the anger level of your spouse. If the other person is getting reallymad, you need to back off. The worst thing you can do is to keep pushing the buttons and adding fuel to the blaze. If you don’t diffuse the argument, it’s almost a guarantee that one or both of you will end up saying things that you truly don’t mean, and those words can be very damaging.
Now this doesn’t mean that you just shelve the issue and never come back to it, as people are often apt to do. You need to come back to the problem when both people are calmer and can actually deal with it. If you constantly keep putting it on the shelf, and putting it on the shelf, and putting it on the shelf, never resolving any of the issues, eventually the shelf breaks and you have a serious disaster. Strong, successful marriages are forged in the fires of dealing successfully with conflict. You need to work through conflict in productive ways. Issues do need to be solved, just not always right now.