The Huffington Post recently wrote: “When is a piece of advice about marriage an empty cliché, and when is it profound – and practical – wisdom? In interviews with hundreds of long-married older people, one prescription for a happy marriage was offered by almost everyone.”
For many years I’ve been coaching people on relationships and have said many, many times… “Never go to bed angry!” As most of you probably know I perform romantic wedding ceremonies and there are a few relationship tips scattered throughout the ceremony and one of them says, “Never go to bed angry!” Since I allow every bride and groom to edit the ceremony to their complete satisfaction, some have taken that line out of the ceremony.
When coaching newlyweds, I always encourage them to resolve their differences before they wind up in bed at the end of the day. For those who value their spiritually, even the Bible, in Ephesians 4:26, Paul writes: …do not let the sun go down while you are still angry… (NIV). This is great advice if you can follow it. Going to bed angry tends to lead to a restless night of bad sleep. Going to sleep after experiencing negative emotions appears to reinforce or “preserve” them. It also leads to resentment and ultimately bigger blowups. Recent research supports this idea.
The sad truth is that most spouses don’t solve problems well when they are angry. In fact, “the idea that it’s helpful for couples to air their grievances in the heat of the moment is probably one of the most dangerous marriage myths out there,” says John Gottman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington and author of “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.” “Often, nothing gets resolved – the partners just get more and more furious.” When people are overwhelmed by emotions like anger, they experience what psychologists call “flooding,” a physiological response that leaves their hearts pounding and their concentration shot, to say nothing of their ability to resolve arguments fairly or amicably.
When you crawl into bed still simmering about a fight, your brain releases hormones that raise your blood pressure and disrupt your immune system, explains psychiatrist Gregory Fricchione, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital. It will take longer for you to fall asleep, and when you do, you might not log the kind of restful slumber you need. Over time, the stress and poor sleep can even increase your risk of heart problems, Fricchione adds. If you can’t work out a truce before bed, spend a few minutes focusing on three things you are deeply grateful to your partner about, which can often stop the stress response in its tracks. When you are unable or unwilling to apply this approach, the problem may not be with the approach, but with you being unforgiving.
“You men, especially, need to take notice and if your wives are getting really mad, you need to back off. Any guy who has been married very long at all and has ten cents of a brain will know that the worst thing he can do is to keep pushing the buttons and adding fuel to the blaze. If you don’t, it’s almost a certain 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.” ~ Mark Gungor
It is not wise to stay up till the wee hours of the morning hammering at the issues – and each other – trying to get to a resolution. I suggest that you call for a “time out” to gather your thoughts to keep from saying something that you will regret later. Conflicts are best dealt with when you have calmed down, so the best advice is to do everything you can to set aside a few moments before bedtime to be alone with your thoughts that brings you back to the calm you need to have a low decibel discussion that ends with a lingering hug and a six-second kiss. It’s a fact that long kisses often lead to something even better than conversation.
This doesn’t mean that you just shelve the issue and never come back to it. That is never a good option. If you cannot fully resolve the issue before bedtime, you “must” remember to come back to the problem when both people are calmer and can more rationally deal with it. Pushing for a quick resolution when you are still angry, especially late at night, is often like the psychological equivalent of trying to defy gravity. So… the next best thing is to sleep on it!
While I’m thinking about it, a very wise rule to have is to go to bed together at the same time.
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.
NOTE: All articles, “LoveNotes” and wedding tips listed in this Wedding BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.
Add Larry James to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Networking BLOG” at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com