Welcome to Marriage Mondays! Each Monday, join me as I share my top findings on the little, eye-opening things that make a big difference in creating great marriages and relationships. Today’s post is one of a series on the surprising truths men and women tend not to know about each other–but which change everything once we do.
Tip #46: Husbands, say “we’re okay” before sleeping on it
Guys, there you are, late at night, in the middle of an argument, exhausted, frustrated– and still going at it, because you’ve been advised, “Don’t go to bed mad.” You are so tired you don’t even know what you’re thinking right then, much less how to magically get happy again, so you can go to bed. And your blood pressure is rising because every time you say “we need to sleep on it,” your wife looks panicky and says “No, we need to resolve it!”
So what do you do?
You have to see when it important to sleep on it… and what you can do that will make it feasible not just for you, but your wife as well.
Now, to be clear: many couples experience disagreements at bedtime and choose to stay up and “talk it out” because they feel it is the right thing to do and they can handle the exhaustion and emotion well. But for many of us… well…sometimes it’s better to get some sleep!
Here’s the key: that oft-quoted verse “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” actually doesn’t mean “Don’t go to bed mad.” Instead, in that first verse, the Apostle Paul is actually quoting a passage from Psalm 4:4 that says, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.” Seriously! Ultimately, the goal is to not sin – to not hurt your spouse in your anger, exhaustion and frustration. Which is why the research with the most happily married couples found that if they were at risk of saying something they didn’t mean, agreeing to something they would resent later, or simply being harsh in their exhaustion, it was time to stop battling it out and get to bed.
The problem, though, is that this solution risks being great for the person who is aching to go to sleep and think things through — and torture for the one who will stay up all night thinking through all things!
I’ll give you one guess which, statistically, is more likely to be the wife!
The key to “sleeping on it,” well, is to always always always reassure your wife when you have to take a break – even when you most don’t feel like it! In our research, eight in ten women deeply need some type of “we’re okay” reassurance in the midst of an argument – especially one that is essentially going to be “hanging out there” until morning. So even when you are furious, be willing to say something like this: “Honey, I don’t want to risk saying something that will hurt you because I’m tired. Let’s talk tomorrow. But I want you to know: I love you, and we’re okay.”
It makes all the difference to reassure your wife that the issue is important to you, that you want to resolve it, and that you love her no matter how upset she may be in the moment. No matter how furious and angry you are, she needs to hear that. Even more, she needs to feel it. So think about scooting over and giving her a hug. Without those words (and perhaps those actions), you will be able to put your concerns aside and get some sleep — while she will be up all night with her head spinning.
Sure, it may be hard to give that reassurance when you’re angry, or give that quick hug when you’re upset, but that is where God’s help comes in. When we ask, He gives what we need. He wants to help us lead our marriages to be healthy, happy and strong. And millions of couples have found that relying on His strength to do what the other most needs, ultimately leads to the best resolution of all.
Join us next Monday for the next installment in our Marriage Monday series!
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Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages and her newest, The Good News About Marriage. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.