Go to Bed Mad!
“Never go to bed mad.”
These five words are among the most common relationship advice couples get.
But is it true?
According to couples therapists, that answer isn’t so simple.
Yes, Peace Reigns
“It’s not good to go to bed furious at each other,” says Sherry Amatenstein, a New York City-based couples therapist and author of The Complete Marriage Counselor: Relationship-Saving Advice from America’s Top 50 Couples Therapists.
“If you’re just passive-aggressively fuming at the other person and wishing they’d drop off the face of the planet, if it’s going to carry over for days and days of hatred,” she warns, the other partner may feel that strain, and wonder what they did — and grow their own anger.
Both partners angry and upset probably won’t make for a good night’s sleep, either.
No, It’s OK
Sometimes one person wants to process everything and will not quit until it’s resolved, but the other person in the couple is a “bleary-eyed zombie” who just wants to go to sleep.
“But that is only one person’s perspective,” says Peter Pearson, who founded The Couples Institute with his wife, Dr. Ellyn Bader. They co-wrote the book, Tell Me No Lies.
“Whether or not you go to bed angry depends on your partner’s approach to conflict – you’re not a one-celled amoeba where you decide for yourself in a vacuum; that’s not how it works in a partnership,” he notes.
“Sometimes, in a fight, someone will say something so deep, you’re not going to resolve it before you go to sleep.”
There are some benefits to going to bed upset.
“If you go to bed angry, you can regain your balance again if you sleep on it. It gives you a chance to not flare back when your outrage meter is spinning,” Pearson says. “When you wake up in the morning, your brain has a way of processing it so that it’s not as intense, and if you talk about it you can come at it in a way that’s a little more reasoned.”
There’s one way to make sure you’re not going to bed too mad, even without making up, Amatenstein advises. You can say: “Look, I’m angry about this thing and I don’t want to talk to you right now, but we’ll sort it out later.”
Basically, if you can separate the thing you’re angry about from the person you’re with, you will be OK.
“You’re going to disagree,” she notes. “You just don’t want it to be a constant.“
Do you resolve fights before bedtime? Or do you sleep on them instead?
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