Therapy Blog for Orem, Spanish Fork & South Jordan

Marriage Counseling Myths: “Never Go to Bed Angry”

Debunking Marriage Myths: “Never Go to Bed Angry”

If you are like many couples, you seek marriage counseling and advice because you and your partner just can’t seem to agree about a big issue. Or, maybe you disagree about many little issues! Sometimes your marriage conflicts might seem like they are never ending. (Related article: Fixing How You Fight). 

You have probably heard many different pieces of advice when it comes to conflict. Especially if you are engaged or a newlywed! And, for many people, the idea of effectively managing relationship conflict is either over complicated or oversimplified. 

For example one of the biggest pieces of marriage advice I have heard over the years is to “never go to bed angry with your partner”. Honestly, that sounds great! However, today, you will learn about why this idea is unrealistic. You will also learn about healthier ideas that can help you have a better approach to conflict with your spouse. marriage counseling

Conflict Management and Resolution… What’s the Difference?

You have probably heard terms thrown around like conflict management and conflict resolution. And, on the surface, these ideas probably sound like the same thing. And while conflict management and resolution can go together, they are not the same! 

Conflict management refers to skills and strategies you and your partner can use to problem solve mid-conflict while also preventing unhealthy “fighting” or miscommunication. Conflict resolution is your ultimate goal; the conflict is over, you both agree, and you and your spouse leave happy and with a sense of fairness. (Related Article: Managing v. Resolving Conflict). 

And both of these ideas might sound great when it comes to your marriage conflicts. Sometimes good conflict management can lead you to conflict resolution, later on. However, conflict resolution isn’t always possible or realistic for certain disagreements. These are usually your bigger marriage problems. For example, disagreements about fundamental values or major decisions. It might not actually be feasible or realistic to expect that someday you will find a perfect resolution to these disagreements. And, in fact, pushing and searching for a complete resolution might not be healthy for your marriage. (Related Article: Building Emotional Intimacy).  You might even cause more conflict in your pursuit for consensus with your spouse. And, suddenly, you are back where you started… but this time with more conflicts in tow! 

It All Starts with Communication

That’s why communication skills are so important. Conflict management comes with good communication. And conflict management skills are extremely important in your marriage, particularly for those big issues where conflict resolution may never happen. However, a lack of conflict resolution does not mean that you and your partner cannot have a healthy, productive, and respectful marriage. The key to effective conflict management in marriage is good boundaries, communication skills, and conflict management. (Related Article: The Anatomy of an Apology). 

It Can Be Okay To Go to Bed Angry

So, here’s where the whole “going to bed angry” thing comes in. Not going to bed angry sounds great and all. But, is that really a one-size-fits-all solution to marriage conflict? For instance, it might be realistic to expect that you and your spouse can resolve certain conflicts somewhat quickly. Maybe you and your spouse disagreed about where to eat for dinner, and it turned into anmarriage counseling argument. It is a reasonable expectation that you can potentially work together to find resolution to that conflict before the end of the day. But, what is the conflict at hand is a disagreement about when to start a family? Or if you should take that new job in a different city? Or maybe you have hurt each others’ feelings, and you will need time to emotionally recover and rebuild trust. These major conflicts can be resolved effectively, but some may require long-term conflict management skills. You might not see the resolution you anticipated. Instead, you and your spouse can work together to find compromise and common ground. (Related article: Marriage Counseling: Promoting Partnership). 

However, this will probably take some time. Setting arbitrary rules for your marriage like refusing to go to bed angry or upset after a disagreement might mean you miss out on getting to the nitty-gritty of managing and maybe even resolving your conflicts. (Related article: How to Apologize). In an effort to make sure you resolve things quickly instead of effectively, you could miss important opportunities for connection and growth. 

A Better Approach to Conflict

So, what is a better way to handle your disagreements? Good communication skills and boundaries are a great start. Instead of just shutting down the conversation and going to sleep, you can try “rescheduling” the conversation. (Related Article: Marriage Counseling- Taking Breaks). For instance, you might say “I really appreciate how you want to work through this with me. I want that too. And, I also want to make sure I am fully awake and can give you my full attention. I think it would be helpful to pause this discussion and go to sleep before we continue. Can we resume this conversation tomorrow night after work?”.

In this example, you show appreciation for the emotional efforts of your partner. You also express genuine interest in reaching a compromise and conclusion to the conversation, and you set a specific time frame when you will resume your conversation. You and your partner might still be angry and frustrated with each other. However, all feelings are temporary, and sometimes making sure you are in the best state of mind can be more impactful than just arguing late into the night until someone gives in. “Going to bed angry” can actually be helpful and productive, when it comes to conflict. marriage counseling

Managing Conflict in Marriage Counseling

I know handling marriage conflict can be overwhelming and even intimidating at times. However, approaching conflict with curiosity, open mindedness, and respect can help you and your partner reach a peaceful conclusion and grow as a couple. Marriage counseling can be a great tool for these sorts of situations. Especially if you are dealing with a major issue that seems like it cannot be managed or fixed. Marriage therapists are specially trained to help you identify and manage these conflicts together, and learn skills along the way you can use for the rest of your time together. Ready to find a marriage therapist? Start couples therapy today in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork. 

Written by Lauren Adkins

Utah Therapy


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