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Not Going to Bed Angry Works

There is an age-old saying regarding relationships and avoiding the long-term backlash of a terrible fight – and that is to never go to bed angry. The advice is pretty simple but in itself in encompasses several different tips couples should generally employ for the sake of diplomacy. First, by not beating around the bush and tackling the problem headfirst as soon as possible, a couple gets to focus entirely on ending an argument as soon as possible rather than drawing it out and letting it continue at a later date.  Secondly, by talking about an issue, couples don’t let problems stew. Anger can, in fact, stew. When it stews too long, angerturns into resentment.

Resentment can become passive aggressiveness, passive aggressiveness canresult in longer and more heated arguments, ultimately avoiding the real hidden issue that began straining the relationship so long ago. To avoid resentment andpassive aggressiveness, we have to better understand where the resentment originates.

How Resentment is Born

Resentment is like a distorted lens – once it begins to grow, either person in a relationship will begin to see everything as an aggression or a chance to complain, argue, and fight. Fighting without making up will begin to become the norm, fighting for the sake of fighting. A relationship that is constantly arguing has the mark of a relationship with a deeper unspoken issue, one that causes one or both people in a couple to seek an excuse to fight almost as a way to cope with the growing anger and resentment.

Yet how does this emotion even begin? What causes it to grow and develop into this toxic behavior? The exact answer is different for every single person, but the science behind it is that resentment is a child of time – and it grows after every negative association.

Researchers have found that if you associate something negative with someone and don’t reconcile the association as soon as within the first day, then the simple act of sleeping on it can make changes in the brain that can make it harder to forgive someone. By waiting longer, the association can grow to warp our perception of that person – and with time, the person you love can become someone you cannot even stand to be in the same room with.

By eliminating the association early on, by talking things out and understanding the other person’s motives and perspectives, by apologizing and forgiving and growing as a couple, you can avoid resentment and instead foster love.

Communication is Key

Now, let’s not kid ourselves – no couple is perfect, and there are enough couples out there that fell in love within the heat of the moment, only later to realize that they have key differences in their individual personalities and levels of attraction towards one another that simply cannot be consolidated or compromised on effectively.

For all the other couples out there that spent years together in a happy relationship and are falling apart, a very common reason is that too many people still aren’t sure how to talk to one another. To avoid resentment and create a relationship that “works”, the first and most important lesson is to strike while the iron remains red hot – tackle the issue at hand, and do not let anything irrelevant distract you from the core problem.

Do you really have a problem with the way your husband goes to bed without as much as a word? Or is it part of a deeper issue you have with one another, dating back to an old argument? When did things start going wrong? Where did you stop looking at each other as you did all those years ago? It is true that relationships undergo a certain honeymoon phase within the first few weeks, months– but just because that has passed, does not mean a relationship has to grow stale, mundane, and eventually turn towards negativity. If you and your spouse are having row after row, then not being angry before bed isnot applicable advice just about now.

Utilizing Marriage Therapy

If you are worried you’re not capable of properly analyzing your relationship and getting to the core of the issue together, one effective option is to seek professional help. When a marriage is threatening to fall apart, a professional may often be the last thing either party may want, but help might be necessary if there is no other way to sit down and get to the real problems at hand.

A relationship is not strained by a single issue, of course. Though one small problem might begin to weigh it down, it is the collective bales of hay that truly break the camel’s back and not the individual straws. Yet there are always core issues – the real problems that increase the irritability and arguments between couples – and by breaking these apart, many relationships can be saved.

The Point of No Return

Just because things are working again does not mean communication does not continue to be important – remember, if something does not sit well, negotiate and compromise until both of you find a way to be happy.

If you cannot, then you’ve got another problem on your hands. If you can’t agree on anything and cannot come to a point where both people are on equal terms – if one of you is emotionally strong-arming the other into a specific position – then you’ve got more than just a lack of communication at hand, but real emotional abuse. That’s when the toxicity of a relationship mandates a total break.


Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.