3 Reasons to Go to Bed Angry With Your Spouse

Posted by: Shel 23 Comments

3 Reasons to Go to Bed Angry With Your Spouse

Going to bed angry goes against what we have been told, taught, and maybe even promised our spouse before marriage. Is, sometimes, going to bed angry healthier for your relationship than staying up until the matter is resolved? On the side of the debate that says “Go ahead – sleep on it,” here are three reasons to go to bed angry.

1. The argument is escalating. If each spouse gets more entrenched in their own position and no progress is being made, sometimes things get louder and increasingly heated the more each tries to force their perspective on the other. If it were daytime, one or the other might stomp off to another room to cool down before addressing – or deciding to blow off – the original reason that anger resulted from a given topic. Going to bed, backs turned to the other, might be the nighttime version of that.

2. Tiredness adds to irrational response. Being overtired and responding to each other in a cranky manner may have been what got the argument started in the first place. The more tired one gets, the more likely one is to respond in an over-the-top way and/or make regrettable statements.

3. The situation can be processed in your subconscious while you sleep. In other words, things will look better in the morning.

But will things really look better in the morning? Will we wake up refreshed, rational, and eager to see our mate’s side of things? Do we wake up to an epiphany for a fair resolution? Or do we get out of bed, ignore each other, and carry our grudge throughout the day?

Maybe there is a reason that “not going to bed angry” has been advised by many of our predecessors. Maybe the tired marital cliche’ has some merit to it. In reverse order, here are three reasons not to go to bed angry with each other.

3. The chasm between the two of you could widen. Instead of being rested and able to resolve the conflict from the night before, both parties could end up more convinced than ever they were right. And determined not to be the first to concede – or even speak. Sound silly? Most long-standing grudges are. How many times have you heard someone utter I’m not even sure what started it? And yet, the animosity lives on.

2. Being angry can disrupt your sleep. Tossing, turning, stewing, planning for the next go-round, could deprive you of the sleep you so desperately  need in order to restore your reasoned thinking. So instead of waking with a new attitude, you’re crankier than ever and ready for round two.

1.  Because there may not be a do-over tomorrow. We often go through life as if we have all the time in the world. But, as our elders are so acutely aware, we may not have tomorrow. Anybody who has lost a loved one probably remembers the last words ever exchanged with them. Statistically, the chances of us being just fine in the morning are very high. But statistics are just numbers – which is not always the same as real life. Which is why it is important to live in a way, and treat each other in a way, that leaves us with no regrets.


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  • makes sense both ways-it’s a judgment call!

    • Shel Harrington

      I agree, Lin – hopefully we won’t need to use our judgment too often on this!!

  • The title got me, Shel. I wondered why you’d ever suggest going to bed mad, then read your reasons. You explained why John and I have done it a number of times. He’s a terrible tired arguer. Bed is best and he’s much nicer in the morning. By then, I don’t care anymore because I want to sleep in. I wish you had written this 20 years ago … would have saved us much angst. Still will when it’s late and I’m tempted to keep on. I’ll think of you.

  • Excellent balance of the pros and cons, Shel. This is especially interesting now, as the holidays seem to bring people closer AND also cause more fights.

    • Shel Harrington

      The holidays do bring out the best and the worst in us. So much of the worst seems to result from unrealistic expectations – of ourselves and others. Because it’s (insert the holiday here) we expect selfish people to behave selflessly and expect ourselves to “get over” our reservations about relations (and relationships) in hopes that things will be perfect. Or at least good. We should take a reality check along with our eggnog into the holiday season!

  • Shel, this is a good and timely post. And as I read the comments I realized no one mentioned where this admonition not to go to bed angry originated. Ephesians 4:26 says: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” That applies to all anger. We live in an age where angry people have become the norm and Satan’s playground is an angry person’s heart. My blog tonight is going to be about anger and the current situation in America. The title? Hog-Tied. http://dianegates.wordpress.com/

    • Shel Harrington

      It’s funny how we’ve interpreted not “letting the sun go down on our anger” as “don’t go to bed angry” – as if the sun hadn’t gone down hours prior!I think another way of saying things is: Nip that anger in the bud ASAP!

  • What a great post this is Shel, I’ve never read the pros and cons of going to bed angry before and this makes for a very interesting read. I’ve often felt guilty if I still feel angry by the time bedtime approaches but can now better understand that actually that time to ‘cool off’ is healthier as in the morning, things are definitely better. This doesn’t happen very often I’m glad to say. In my previous marriage, I dealt with a man who was passive aggressive and if he was mad at me he wouldn’t speak to me for days, weeks even, without holding a grudge. It almost finished me off.

    • Shel Harrington

      Which is probably one of the reasons it’s not a “current” marriage! I’m with you, Sherri – even if I know it’s best to let things rest a bit, being angry (or having anger directed at me) is a lousy way to end the night.

  • Sooooo true. I, of course am going to go with tomorrow may not come. I am SO grateful wee went to bed peacefully that night. My last words to Clint were “honey, go to bed.” He was nodding off at his computer. I so desperately wish my last words had been “I love you.” But I’m so grateful they were at least loving words

    • Shel Harrington

      Awww, Amy. I’m so sorry that you know all too well how short time can be with a beloved spouse. I’m pretty sure when you said “honey, go to bed” Clint clearly heard “honey, I love you” in both content and tone!I hope many others read your words and realize that age has nothing to do with how much time we get with those we love – and no matter how long it is, it’s still too short to waste it being hurtful to each other. Prayers for you, my friend.

  • I strive to hold my tongue during a heated discussion. Once the words are spoken, they’re out there and usually remembered by the person on the receiving end after apologies have been made. Personally, I can’t go to bed angry because what if something happened to him during the night. I’m the same when it comes to phone conversations with anyone…I never end a call in anger. People can be taken from our lives in an instant…it’s not worth it.
    Great post, Shel!

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Jill. I’m with you regarding how calls/visits/time together is ended. Almost daily (usually when watching the News) I hear about a tragedy like a fatal car crash and my immediate thought is they were just going about their day as usual and their family assumed they were coming home. I am hyper aware of the fragility of our time together and paranoid about leaving things on a bad note because, just maybe . . . While there has been a time or two when our parting “I love you” has been strained or squeezed out through clenched teeth, I can’t imagine separating while flinging ugly words at the other.

  • The Hub and I are in the camp where going to bed angry does not work – we both tend to stew about it and not sleep which makes for very tired angry people in the morning. I completely agree with the points that if the argument is escalating or the parties involved are getting tired, it’s only going to get worse. I definitely move into the irrational when that happens. Very true. So for us, since we’re going to end up tired either way, we usually end up just hashing it out.
    Like Peggy, I agree with all six points. Maybe the best approach is to assess each situation. My Grandparents were good at that – married 65 years, together for nearly 70. Lots of experience and wisdom there.

    • Shel Harrington

      I linked an article in the last paragraph, Lisa, that echos your grandparents sentiment. Basically, the bottom line of the elders is that most of the stuff we’re arguing about isn’t worth it and our time together is too short to waste on it. Seeing Amy’s comment reinforces the value of heeding that wisdom.

  • Keeping the window open to talk is always a good thing, but does not always happen. Going to bed angry is not my thing, I don’t sleep very well. I prefer to sort it out. If I can, if I am too angry I would rather leave it until I am calm. So all of the above make sense at the right time Shel. Love your site and what you are trying to do. Kath.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Kath! I know what you mean about keeping the window open – IF we can! While reading about this topic, I saw suggestions from professionals that were so rational. They started with things like, “Simply say . . . ” or “Suggest to your mate. . . ” and I thought, Gee, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all COULD be rational and mature in the heat of that battle??

  • Like everything in life there are always other options. It’s getting to the right option for us that often can prove problematic! An excellent presentation of the pros and cons and ALWAYS a good thing to remember the last point!

  • I agree with all six. There are definitely pros and cons. I think one serious consideration is the spouse who is being abused either physically or verbally. You need to understand in that circumstance that if you don’t choose to leave an abusive relationship, you will be going to bed angry quite frequently. There is no solution in this situation other than removing yourself from the problem or getting professional help.

    • Shel Harrington

      I absolutely agree with you, Peggy. My article is meant to address marital tiffs and spats – domestic violence is a whole different matter. There are safety issues involved when abuse is present. There is no healthy way to be in an abusive relationship. I appreciate your comment as well as you taking the time to do so.

  • Excellent presentation of pros and cons, Shel!

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Natine – after reading Amy’s comment I’m definitely with the cons!

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