It’s Okay to Go to Bed Angry

Recently I came across an article in a woman’s magazine that listed “new rules” for marriage and it debunked what are common “myths” of marital relationships. One of the myths was: Never go to bed angry. If you don’t hash through every conflict right away, it’ll lead to resentment and blowups. For years most of us have heard the saying, “Never go to bed angry”. It actually comes from the scripture in Ephesians 4 where Paul writes: …do not let the sun go down while you are still angry… (NIV). Often people will interpret that to mean they can not go to bed until they have settled every last detail of the argument. Couples will stay up till the wee hours of the morning hammering at the issues—and each other—trying to get to a resolution. I’m sure the verse does not literally mean don’t go to sleep until you’ve completely solved the problem in a way that is totally acceptable to both of you. What it does mean is that you need to let go of the anger, even if the problem is not solved.

But in the article the author went on to give the explanation or the “new rule” regarding this. It was interesting in that they went on to say that conflict is better solved after a good night’s rest and that you should sleep on it. There is wisdom in saying that sometimes in the middle of a very intense argument, it is better to chill out for a while and come back to it. After all, how often in the heat of the battle have words flown out of your mouth in anger that you really didn’t mean? How often have you ended up regretting what you said?

Now this doesn’t mean that you just shelve the issue and never come back to it, as people are often apt to do. You have to come back to the problem when both people are calmer and can actually deal with it. If you constantly keep putting it on the shelf, and putting it on the shelf, and putting it on the shelf, never resolving any of the issues, eventually the shelf breaks and you have a serious disaster. Strong, successful marriages are forged in the fire of conflict, but you need to work through conflict in productive ways. Issues do need to be solved, just not always right now.

When you are in the midst of a blow out and things are getting very heated, one of the two of you needs to catch it and put the brakes on. Usually it is the one who is the least angry, because the one of you who is the angriest won’t see it. Call a time out and take a break, sleep on it if you have to. 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.

Watch the blog later this week for the continuation of this post in “Anger Won’t Get You to the Truth.”

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25 Responses to “It’s Okay to Go to Bed Angry”

  1. Judy Kaufman says:

    Good article. I agree completely that dealing with the anger before you go to bed is the biggest issue and I have found that I can do that by asking the Holy Spirits help.

    Thank you for the work you do to help marriages. You have helped me many times.

    • Victoria Oxendine says:

      Often times, we women have way more verbal skills than the guy and he’s entering the fight “unarmed.” Also, he may have feelings of guilt about whatever it was, and his pride won’t allow him to say he was wrong. This is tough for a man. Sometimes, he just needs to table it so that he can think about it more. Usually, if he loves you, he will come to the conclusion that you were right about the whole thing; however, this might take a couple of days. Give him the time and space to think it through. If, after a couple of days, he doesn’t come to you and say, “You know…maybe you were right about that…” then possibly you might be wrong. While you’re waiting the two days for him to come around, consider your own side to see if there’s a part of it that you may be wrong about. CAUTION: Do not ice him during this time. Be loving and sweet, and most often he will then feel that it’s safe to talk with you about it. You’ll get way more from him this way, then forcing him to solve everything right then.

  2. Cynthia says:

    Hello Mr Gungor, once again I’ve enjoyed readng your advice on marriage. I’ve never looked at that scripture that way though. I just think that sometime it may be hard to let go of the anger if one is that angry. But I do agree that it eill mke it worse to continue to argue and put out more angry words that will be hard to take back even though one apologizes. I am single and have never been married. I am a born-again believer also, I believe that I will make a good wife one day.I appreciate your advice to go along with the teacings of my Pastors and my private times with the Lord. Continue to bless us with the words of wisdom and humor. The Lord bless you real good.

    Cynthia

  3. Jude says:

    Hello Mark,

    My husband was just 18 years old and I was just 17 years old when we got married. 32 years later, Wow things really change. My husband and I never went to bed without hashing over our issues and it really worked then. Now, we kinda pick our fights more wisely. Our Maturity and our growth in God has let us put many arguements not only on the shelf but out of our minds thanks to the Holy Spirit! However, there has been times that we did need to resurface an issue and resolve it that could be a real danger but with God at the realm He lets us know when to keep the peace and when to throw Pasta at my husband. 32 years of marriage and we still have to maintain and your show is the perfect avenue to do that! Thanks

  4. AM says:

    Hello Mark,

    My husband was just 18 years old and I was just 17 years old when we got married. 32 years later, Wow things really change. My husband and I never went to bed without hashing over our issues and it really worked then. Now, we kinda pick our fights more wisely. Our Maturity and our growth in God has let us put many arguements not only on the shelf but out of our minds thanks to the Holy Spirit! However, there has been times that we did need to resurface an issue and resolve it that could be a real danger but with God at the realm He lets us know when to keep the peace and when to throw Pasta at my husband. 32 years of marriage and we still have to maintain and your show is the perfect avenue to do that! Thanks

  5. Jun Brady says:

    The title is a bit misleading. But I completely understand the point here. Better to say, “I’m really sorry honey and i’m really sleepy. Can we not be angry and get some sleep now? I promise, we’ll talk about this in the morning, if you want.”

  6. sara says:

    Fine take time-out to cool off. But before you do- @ least throw in an I love you! You don’t know if the other person will wake up the next morning …therefore you will still be in a fight but @ least you got to say I love you one last time. That’s why going to bed angry can be scary… I’m just saying.

  7. Teresa says:

    Mark, I can’t thank you and LYW enough for your ministry. It has been the settling piece for many a long struggle in my life, and I’m at a place of such peace, joy, love and contentment now. Thank you for being a part of the Lord’s working on me. I share your materials often. Thank you and may God bless you. Sincerely, Teresa.

  8. Nicole says:

    No, you don’t have to solve every problem before bed. That’s not what the verse says. The verse says don’t go to bed angry. So, no, you don’t have to have every detail of your problem worked out, but you do need to have your anger solved.

  9. Maine says:

    I truely enjoy your articles, please could you assist… I have a friend that has just gone through an experience(husband been unfaithful with postitute), she is totally broken and i would like to help but so inexperience in this area… I have read your articles tried to give it to her… but she goes through up and down and questions her husband.. he does not want to discuss it with her.. just says he sorry and blames her for it… how can I help her, what do i say

    • Renea says:

      Unfortunately many men use other women and practice by viewing porn long before acting out desires of adultry, beyond the mind. It’s epidemic in our culture. Multiple year accountability for sexual addiction is a must. Yes councelor specifically trained for sex addicts, can help if he wants the change. She must guard herself to prevent medical ramifications. Some diseases are permanent and can kill her, the probable Mom who’s children need her.

  10. Marge says:

    Mark, I sent a letter by post mail to you to share one of the very basic “safety foundations” for my husband and my marriage of 34 years. We both independently, after we survived a 10 year misery situation, said that natural family planning which we adopted at the beginning of our marriage is what saved us. Yes, there were other helps, but we both KNEW that it was that marital commitment that set up a scenario of respect that stayed with us throughout those first 25 years….grandkids are keeping it going now. See http://www.ccli.org for more witnessing on that from couples of all ages and all locations.

  11. Vigdis says:

    I believe most of us have been in this situation. It’s true that anger makes one blind and it’s hard to say the right things. Talking is vital to find a solution. I find myself walking away from the situation until I can think clearly. I bite my tongue and take a deep breath. Words can make permanent scars. I had to deal with issues from my past with my parents, and i swore not to make the same mistakes. But learned habbits and bad habbits are hard to break and change. With Gods help though it is possible. I love your ministry. It has helped me many times and still is.

  12. Cecelia says:

    I am a LMFT and currently work with military couples. I totally agree; the brain needs time to process information which will not happen in the heat of anger. I tell my clients regularly that “sleeping on it” is the best they can do as it allows them to see more clearly the next day. Continued arguing generally lead to things said hurt. Glad to know others share the POV.

  13. Amy Teske says:

    In our short 8 year marriage I can count on one hand how many times we solved a conflict before going to bed based on this old quote – and that was probably in the first month of marriage! My husband just gets too angry when a conflict arises and it’s not safe to solve it then. After 2 or 3 days he was finally calm enough to talk, which I also think is wrong. Basically though we do find it is easier to solve conflicts in the morning when we aren’t tired. I think the picture that accompanied this article is right on; with the woman lying awake frustrated (because we need absolution now) and the man rolled over fast asleep.

  14. Wendy says:

    Ephesians 4 where Paul writes: …do not let the sun go down while you are still angry… (NIV).This scripture is not a threat, it is merely advising you. IN the bible days people were up real early before the chickens if you will, to toil the earth so they can live, they had a lot of stuff to do, they didn’t have tractors with headlights, and awesome equipment we have today to help us out. And they went to bed when the sun went down, they had no light, and I am sure they were give out anyway and morning came early for them. I believe the scripture is telling us if we don’t do something about our anger before the sun sets we “will” carry it to bed with us an we will not sleep, and the morning came quickly especially when you don’t sleep well and you have hard long day ahead of you! This is just my thought!

  15. Bob says:

    An angry spouse is not a loving spouse. You can disagree without anger. You can go to bed and still disagree. Going to bed angry is just plain wrong and stupid.

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