Wedding Advice - Part 2 (The Worst Advice)

The worst piece of wedding advice we recieved is simple.

Never go to bed angry.

I'm convinced that this bit of advice was either given by people who are now divorced or by people who are really bad fighters. You know the kind. The couple who consider a discussion on who will do the dishes an actual argument, the people who never raise their voices and avoid confrontation at all costs. These people just aren't good fighters.

Great fighters know this is really bad advice. Those of us who are good at raising our voices, hurling out past misdeeds and dragging extended family into the mix, can attest to the misguided or malicious nature of this advice.

You see, I was raised by a champion debater who coached a champion debate team. I know how to argue. I can be stubborn and loud. I'm pretty quick with a sarcastic retort and sadly, I have a good memory about things I should probably forget. Mix that with my husband, who is just as skilled in all these areas, throw in the advice "don't go to bed angry" and you have a recipe for a long and miserable night.

Here's the deal. If we're not going to go to bed angry, well, we just won't go to bed at all. It didn't take too many knock-down, drag-out, all-night brawls for us to realize that this was just plain bad advice. Who wants to go to work the next day with tired, puffy eyes and a raging, sleep-deprived headache. And who can afford to call in sick anytime there's a marital disagreement? We discovered that for us, we were better off going to bed angry, getting a good night's sleep and then getting up a little calmer, a little more rational and a little less stupid.

So what advice do I give when the advice notebook is passed around or Aunt Susan's video camera is pointed in your face waiting for a piece of marital counsel?

If you're fighting at bedtime (or anywhere close to it), go to bed, get a good night's sleep and face the disagreement with a calm head in the bright light of day.


Lisa said...

that was great. thanks. i would say the second-worst piece is to argue naked. what on earth?

Heidi Totten said...

We are kindred spirits! I give the EXACT same advice. My mom always told me the same thing. Awesome.

Christie said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! You absolutely should go to bed angry. Hurtful words are not said, tempers cool, and it almost seems silly in the morning (most of the time anyway). Excellent post series.

Tawnie said...

"Choose your battles." That's my advice.
After or while going through some pretty tough stuff, the little stupid things just don't matter anymore.
So THINK! Is it really worth arguing over or do you just need to cool down and get over it?!

Viper said...

I completely agree with what you said in the context you said it in. For couples who have no problems argueing and expressing you are completely correct. Much better to get some good sleep and face it tomorrow... (except it's awfully hard to sleep when the person that is angry with you is right next to you. Anger can sometimes come off people in waves. It can also feel like a physical force sometimes... try sleeping with that! the couch or the basement floor is more comfortable.)

I think the "don't go to bed angry" advice can actually be good for people who have a hard time comunicating with eachother... who internalize without expressing. These "pressure cooker" type of people bottle up negative emotions and because they never express them it becomes very harmful to them and their relationship. For these type of people going to bed angry just makes it that much easier to do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day... Before you know it you're in marriage counceling to try to avoid ending your marriage. Why? because of lack of communication. Not going to bed angry can force people to communicate with eachother and work it out. the desire for sleep can be a strong motivator to get things resolved.

Advice has to be applied where it was intended, on a case by case basis. Good advice for one couple can be terrible for another.

I think you are correct in stating that "Don't go to bed angry" is generally bad advice (except in some cases as discribed above) in this day and age. I think people are much more expressive today than they were a few generations ago. I think what used to be generally good advice in generations past can be terrible advice today.

If lack of communication is not your problem then this advice is probably not worth the breath that was used to speak it.

Leslie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie said...

why are you all arguing?

isn't marriage just peaceful and happy bliss?

what is the problem with YOUR marriage? :)



great advice. loved this.

love you.

Leslie said...


VIPER: no offense, but you lost me.

Viper said...

LESLIE, none taken. Which part are you having trouble understanding? Perhapse I could explain it more?

Viper said...

LESLIE, did I loose you because you do not undersatand? Or did I loose you because you do not agree?