“Never go to bed angry!” As I sat surrounded by my closest family and friends at my bachelorette party dinner, someone suggested going around the table and offer up their best marriage advice. This was the first one spoken. It was followed by other kinds of cliche (but still valid) answers like, “Never stop dating your husband” and “God first; marriage second”. The time came for my mom to share. In true form of my mom, being oblivious to the first person’s advice, she exclaimed: “Oh, I got a great one! Never, ever, ever go to bed angry!” Everyone burst out laughing and I remember nearly spitting out my champagne. It’s a memory ingrained in my mind.
Despite the obvious importance of that advice to my closest confidants, it’s an area of marriage that never really stuck for me. I go to bed angry.
Now, saying that makes it seem like it happens often. Honestly, my husband and I have more silly spats than all-out arguments. I can count on one hand the number of times that we have truly been in a “fight”. But when we have had a problem, I tend to not necessarily take the high road. I’ve been known to shut down a bit as opposed to laying it all on the table right away. I need time to stew in my thoughts. I have to process every detail, both past and possible future outcomes. My Enneagram Type 6 is on full display in a fight: arrogant, pessimistic, defensive, fear of being rejected and unwanted, glass half empty, lacking confidence in my mind, a ping-pong ball of emotions.
If you ask my husband, he says I shut down and give him the cold shoulder for three days. If you ask me, I think he’s exaggerating. But it doesn’t change the fact that I do go to bed angry. Even if it’s just something small, I have trouble communicating it at the moment. Sometimes I just need to make sure that what I’m feeling is legit and not me overreacting with an anxious mind. I think that when I immediately dive into a tough topic, I’m not prepared or totally level-headed. The argument could snowball into something bigger and unnecessary.
I still do keep in mind the cliche of it all, in that I will always kiss my husband goodnight and say “I love you”. Again, my worst-case-scenario type 6 mind reminds me that we may not see tomorrow and I’d forever regret not doing those things before bed. Once I’ve had time to sleep on it and analyze the ins and outs, I feel more confident to hash it out and get into the nitty-gritty with him.
Some conversations take five minutes to resolve and some have taken five days. In the end, we’ve always been able to say sorry, forgive, and resolve whatever the issue was. In my mind, I tell myself that I won’t drag it out the next time and just deal with it head-on right away. But it never happens. And It’s better for me that way. There are always things I learn from our disagreements and areas I take away to work on, but going to bed angry is just who I am.
Marriage is not easy, but I also don’t think it has to be hard. My husband and I understand each other and know the other person’s mind pretty well at this point. I know he may not immediately recognize that I’m upset, and he knows that I need time to deal. He knows that I’ll love him forever and like him for always, and vice versa. No matter what we’re facing, he’s my person and we’re in it together… for better or worse.
I can use the phrase “joy comes in the morning” for this, right?