When my husband and I first got married almost 17 years ago, I thought marriage was communicating every thought and feeling the minute you had it.
Communicating and working through every disagreement seemed like the recipe for a healthy relationship. As I have gotten older and further into my marriage, I’ve realized: a happier marriage is about what you don’t say.
Remember that old adage: Don’t go to bed angry?
It’s wrong. There are arguments that come up that no one is going to win. In fact, and in truth, the majority of the issues that come up in your marriage can never be solved!
Conflict is inevitable; men and women are different in so many ways. Instead of being afraid of conflict, accept it and understand it can be a path to intimacy. It’s a chance to show respect by fighting fair. A chance to use your humor to dissolve the anger. It’s a chance to show your partner patience.
The Secret to A Happier Marriage
How do you know when to go to bed angry?
I know you’ve been there before. The times we are too tired to fight, and yet we do, and it only makes it worse. That’s the time we simply don’t have it in us to fight fair. We don’t want to be patient, funny, or respectful. We want to fight dirty and to finish!
This is the time to go to bed angry. To swallow your pride and not say anything else. Believe me, if you don’t, you’ll regret it. You’ll make it worse by saying something that attacks the person’s character, and those things are hard to take back.
You will catastrophize and generalize until you are ready to call the divorce lawyers. This will only drive you apart. If you can agree to just go to sleep, the magic of a happier marriage can happen. The magic of being in a solid relationship.
The magic of clarity and sanity in the morning can unfold because you have a foundation. In the morning, things seem smaller, brighter, and less important.
When we fight unfairly with our partners, we use the worst possible language to do it. “You always do that,” “I can’t count on you,” “I don’t want to talk about it,” and the dreaded loaded “never mind!” All of this fuels the fire.
The truth is we all just want to be heard.
In marriage, we have to be willing to apologize and forgive. If something is worth discussing, it can wait until the next day when your mind is clearer and you don’t want to attack your partner!
There are nights when my husband says or does something that makes me so angry I can hardly sleep in the same bed with him. But in the morning, I’m less angry.
We wake up, we start the day, and if I need to, I can really tell my husband what is happening. I can say, “you hurt my feelings” or “I feel like you don’t care.” And that allows him to be more loving to me. To hear me and apologize and talk it through.
Honest and open communication is essential in a marriage, but the essential question to ask yourself before you say anything is: “Is this kind and constructive?” If not, some things are better left unsaid. Going to bed angry is not something to do all the time.
You don’t want resentment to build up between you. Instead, use this as a tool in your marriage toolbox. If you see a fight going on too long or getting to a place where you are both on the attack, that’s the time to just stop. Stop and save yourself further anger and aggravation and go to bed.
The problem you’re having might not be as big when you wake up in the morning. The secret to a happier marriage lays in knowing when and how to speak your truth. Kindness, understanding, and patience all come together.