There’s some age old advice that a couple should “never go to bed angry.” However, this may not be the best the advice. In fact, going to bed angry can actually be quite helpful to the marriage as opposed to staying up and resolving the issue right then and there.
Emotions and Thoughts
The more emotional you feel, the less rational you are. That’s why when you are really angry it is hard to think straight. Anger causes people to do and say things they normally wouldn’t.
In fact, studies have shown people actually get less intelligent when they are angry. The angrier you feel, the less intelligence you have! This makes problem-solving nearly impossible when you are really angry.
When you are mad it becomes really difficult to communicate effectively. When people struggle to get their point across in a coherent manner, they often get louder. It’s as if shouting an incoherent message repeatedly will be better understood than simply saying it in a normal tone. This goes back to that irrational thought process.
It also becomes nearly impossible to hear what someone else is saying when you are angry. Instead of being able to really think about what the other person is trying to communicate, angry people tend to be focused on what they want to say next. Anger causes people to interrupt more often as well. This is why it can make more sense to just go to sleep when you feel angry because you aren’t likely to get anything accomplished.
Staying Up Later Won’t Resolve the Issue
Sometimes couples stay up until the wee hours of the morning trying to resolve an issue. Well if you are angry and sleep-deprived, it isn’t likely that it will help to stay up another hour to resolve some conflict.
Instead, go to sleep! Taking a break can give you the opportunity to calm down. It’s likely that you’ll gain some perspective overnight. In the morning, you might have a whole new approach to the issue.
Sometimes problems that seem to be really big problems at midnight can feel like minor issues in the morning. A little sleep and some calmer thoughts can make a big difference.
Develop a Plan Together
For many couples, talking at the end of the day makes sense. After work and after the kids are asleep is the only time many couples have the opportunity to discuss their issues. However, there’s often a small window of time to get a lot accomplished.
So if you and your spouse have gotten into the habit of staying up late to argue, develop a plan together. When you are both calm, discuss how you can prevent late night arguments.
For example, is there any rhyme or reason to arguments? Some couples fight about money near the end of every month. For other couples, they get into an argument every Thursday as they begin to discuss their weekend plans. Or the stress of Monday morning causes some couples to argue every Sunday night. Take a look to see if there is a pattern to your disagreements.
If there is, see what you can do to prevent late night disagreements about this issue. Perhaps scheduling a time on Sunday afternoons to look at your budget can be helpful. Or maybe you need to discuss the plans for the weekend by Tuesday so you can both be on the same page.
Also, set a time limit for your discussions. For example, agree to talk about an issue but only until 10PM. Once 10PM rolls around, if it isn’t settled, agree to continue discussing it the next day at an agreed upon time. Also, agree you not to discuss it until then. Don’t wake your spouse up and try to continue right where you left off first thing the morning!
Identify When You are Too Angry to Continue
It can also be helpful to learn how to identify when you are too angry to keep discussing a topic. Maybe there are some particularly hot button issues for you and talking about them for too long is likely to cause you to get really angry. Maybe your spouse has hurt you when it comes to certain issues and those are difficult to discuss for very long. Whatever the issue, make sure you recognize when you’re approaching your boiling point.
Learning to recognize the signs that you are getting really angry is important. Anger has physical symptoms such as an elevated heart rate. Some people feel their face getting hot while others report they begin to shake. Learn how to recognize your warning signs that your body is beginning to show your anger.
Also, when you aren’t able to listen to your spouse anymore or when you can’t seem to communicate calmly, it is important to take a break. If you are not getting anything accomplished and you are just repeating yourselves, continuing to argue isn’t going to be helpful.
When you get too angry to continue a discussion, recognize that taking a break is important. And an overnight break in the discussion might be very helpful. So agree to go to bed mad! Then see if you can resume the discussion later in a calmer, more rational manner.