I don’t give a lot of marriage advice. I mean, every couple is different, and you have to find your own groove. The most I’ll usually say is “Marry someone you truly enjoy spending time with” and “Be most excellent to each other, and party on dudes.” But, I’ve been married going on 11 years now, and there’s one piece of ubiquitous advice that has always rubbed me the wrong way: “Never go to bed mad.”
This is really dumb advice.
We tell people all the time to “sleep on it” when they’re facing a big decision, and it’s because we know that sometimes you just need to let your brain work on something while you stop thinking about it, and maybe things will seem clearer in the morning. We know that big decisions take time and marination. But we tell people in a relationship that they have to solve all their differences and arguments before the sun sets on them?
Sometimes the thing you’re fighting about is just stupid, and you’re so far in that you forgot that fact, but you’ll realize it when you wake up in the morning and it no longer seems to matter as much.
Sometimes, particularly if you have small children, you’re not really so much in a fight as you are sleep-deprived and irrational, and after some sleep you’ll realize that the whole thing wasn’t even a disagreement.
Sometimes one of you is a hot-head and needs some cooling off time.
Sometimes one of you is an internal processor, and you’ll be able to work stuff out and communicate your side more clearly after you’ve had some time to work it out in your own head for a while.
Sometimes everyone will be able to be calmer and more receptive if you continue the discussion over a cup of coffee the next day.
Sometimes, going to bed mad may even mean one of you storms off to bed and the other conks out watching TV on the couch, and you both wake up missing each other and in a more loving frame of mind the next day.
Sometimes, without the pressure of WE HAVE TO SOLVE THIS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE CAN’T GO TO BED BEFORE WE RESOLVE IT, you can actually have the space to come up with a better, more amicable resolution.
Sometimes you really should just go to bed mad. Because in the morning, you’ll find you just aren’t mad anymore.
So, there’s my new piece of relationship advice. Screw “never go to bed mad.” Sometimes you should just sleep on it.