Yes, You Should Go To Bed Angry
Hey everyone! This is Jenny Hale, and this is my truth bomb series, a series of short videos about advice that’s given in relationships which is sadly misplaced, and where the truth really lies.
Today I’d like to address the old chestnut of “never go to bed angry”.
There is a good intention to this. If you get in the habit of not resolving arguments and just going to sleep, and then waking up the next morning and both of you have to rush off and do things, and you feel better anyway because you’ve had some sleep, you won’t ever really actually resolve an argument.
So there is some some truth in the idea that you need to work conflicts through and to actually resolve them.
However, I have worked with a number of clients over the years of working as a as a coach and relationship counsellor who have an incredibly unhealthy pattern of “never go to bed angry”.
Something happens, one of them gets triggered, they’re really upset. The other one’s trying to manage that. At some point, they get upset themselves. Both people are upset, they’re saying things to each other, nobody’s listening, and this goes on until 3 or 4 a.m.
And then they’re exhausted. They get a couple of hours sleep, they rush off to work, they can’t function, they come home that night, they still haven’t resolved anything, but they can’t go to bed angry, so they do the whole thing over again.
This is not good.
In order to be able to resolve conflicts you need to be rested. You need to be sleeping. Some arguments, some conflicts are quite complex. They have many layers to them, and it takes some time to pick them apart.
It may be the case that one or both of you has some childhood issue triggered. Something’s happening that’s reminding you of something that was very upsetting from your childhood and you don’t even realize. You think that it’s your partner wiping their hands on the dish towel that’s making you so upset. You don’t realize that you had 15 years of your little brother destroying all your belongings and that that frustration and rage is the thing that’s really driving you.
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So you might have your own individual stuff. Or, your partner might legitimately be doing things which are actually inconsiderate and you might be going “Oh, this is me, I just need to soothe myself. I just need to work on myself. I need to be more patient and more tolerant”, when in fact what needs to happen is you need to set some boundaries and you need to actually make some agreements about how things are happening in the real world.
So there are always these two pieces in any kind of conflict. There’s what’s actually happening in the world right now, and then there’s both people’s past and how that might be being triggered, how that might be coming through.
Until you separate those you’ve got no hope of resolving the conflict. You need to be clear on what is actually happening here and now and needs to be changed, and what is being triggered and needs to be taking care of internally.
So it’s a good principle in general that you always work your way through to the very end of a conflict and actually resolve it, but that might not be something that you can do in one evening. And it might not be something that the two of you can do alone, because if you’re both triggered into your childhood stuff it’s very difficult to see what is the present.
You might need to get a third person to mediate the conversation to really understand what’s happening.
There aren’t many third people available at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. to come and do that, so in that case it’s better to actually just go to sleep, wake up the next day having had some rest, and then see if you can find somebody to help the two of you to work through and figure out what’s going on.
This has been the truth bomb series. This was the “never go to bed angry” episode and I hope to see you around in future episodes!