Thursday, May 31, 2012

Go to Bed Angry

In a recent "Dear Abby" column, a soon-to-be-married reader wrote in to inquire how to ensure a lasting marriage.  Abby responds that a good rule to live by is to "never go to bed angry."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this phrase over the years, and I still think it's terrible advice.  I mean, let's be real here - few things sabotage the possibility of bringing an argument to a reasonable and fair conclusion like trying to do so while you and your spouse are both dead tired.

Is it nice to go to bed in love and happy and forgetting that you've just had a blistering argument about the fact that your husband puts the forks in the dishwasher upside down?  Sure.  But it's actually nicer if you just go to bed, get a good night's sleep, and then wake up in the morning with the ability to realize that you are a complete idiot for caring about such a thing.  (To quote my sister, "It is my policy to have no objections to any volunteer act someone else takes on.")

Sleep is magic in that regard.  Small arguments over petty things (really, ladies, upside-down forks?  Can't you just be grateful that your husband helped with the dishes?) somehow evaporate or seem less important once the sun rises. And big arguments over important things are better hashed out once you've both had time to rest and cool off. Not to mention it is harder to be sensitive to your spouse's feelings and point of view when you are both exhausted. Better to say, "We are both too tired to discuss this right now. Let's talk it over in the morning."

Sometimes forks are just forks, not instruments your spouse is using to deliberately torture you.  And it's easier to see that with a good night's sleep under your belt.


Suzanne Lucas said...

Dear Abby is dumb as a rock, but I'm so thrilled to be quoted!

Yeah me!

Stephanie Black said...

Well said, Bonnie! I don't know how that advice has endured for so long. Maybe because it's pithy and quotable. Sometimes, it's just better to wait until morning.

kws said...

Where is the "amen" button on this blog?!

Megan B ♥ said...

I have never understood that advice. It is totally whacked, terrible advice. Delirium never helps anything. Our fights escalate into bizarro-ville if we let them run too late into the night.

Stupid 17th Generation Replacement Abby.

Chris said...

I agree with you 1000% percent, Bonnie. (Yes, one thousand!) I am not as gifted in verbalizing my thoughts or feelings on the spot as my wife. It may take days, or even weeks, for me to process and understand why I feel conflicted about some things in our relationship. Once I understand myself I have a choice: 1) I've made peace and don't need to bring it up, or 2) the issue is interfering with a positive relationship, and I'll bring it up again to talk about it.

Putting a time constraint like "Don't go to bed angry," on an issue can lead to discussing half-formed, indefensible, or flat-out wrong ideas. That misunderstanding can pretty much guarantee going to bed angry.