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Going to Bed Angry
Mom with a View

Going to Bed Angry

Don't listen to your grandmother's advice.

by

It never fails. At every bridal shower or sheva brachot, someone mentions their grandmother's advice not to go to bed angry. I'm not sure why this seems to be the particular purview of grandmothers or if our grandmothers liked to stay up late at night. I'm not even sure why happily married people today credit this adage.

For my part I have not found it to be the best strategy for a successful marriage. At night seemingly trivial problems loom large. The tears, the yelling, the recriminations are all heightened. And resolution is difficult to achieve. It's a prolonged, agonizing back and forth until exhaustion finally ends the dialogue.

By the light of the day, many of the issues that seemed so crucial the evening before, that were so divisive and emotionally important, appear insignificant. The gap between spouses seems to have narrowed. The emotional intensity seems to have diminished.

We all share this experience because there is an emotional and spiritual reality to the time of day. In Jewish understanding, it is no coincidence that Passover occurs in the spring. The Almighty created the world in such a way that the physical renewal of the world would be inextricably linked to His people's spiritual rebirth. And even deeper -- that the opportunity for spiritual freedom that is the essence of Passover is more available during this time. Spiritual reality and physical reality deliberately coincide and work in tandem.

So too with day time and night time. It is not just our imagination that makes us afraid of the dark. Darkness and our "evil inclination" are intimately linked. There is more power to our "darker" side at night. We are less rational, less Godly, and more frightened and destabilized.

By contrast, dawn brings hope and optimism. Our drive for good is dominant. We are energized and positive. This is not a unique individual experience but a reflection of reality, a description of the creation.

Go to sleep and look at the subject afresh in the positive light and mood of the day.

Given that our world appears bleaker at night -- physically, spiritually and emotionally, it makes sense that it is not the optimal time for resolving difficult marital issues. We get bogged down in a morass of anxiety, fear and negativity.

The wiser course would seem to be to go to sleep and look at the subject afresh in the positive light and mood of the day.

It takes self-control. It may feel emotionally less satisfying. It may not be what our grandmothers said (did anyone's grandmother actually say it or is it just a generic attribution?). But it is the more prudent strategy. It is the more mature approach. It is the course most in sync with the rhythms of our world.

No matter how gloomy our prospects seem by night, daylight always brings new hope and possibilities. It is a blessing the Almighty has built into His world. We need to appreciate this opportunity and use it appropriately.

It's not that we should go to bed angry. It would certainly be better not to be angry at all! But if we are angry or in the midst of intense disagreement, the saner and wiser choice (despite years of bridal shower brainwashing to the contrary) would be to table the issue until the morning. And get a good night's sleep. Which I am confident is advice that any grandmother would give!

Published: April 28, 2008


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Visitor Comments: 13

(13) Yehudith, May 1, 2008 8:33 AM

Agree

I agree with Mrs. Braverman's article. I for one tend to wake up feeling much more positive than I did the night before about things that kept me up all night and worrying. Somehow in the morning I wonder why I was so preoccupied when things seem so clear. I do believe that we can work things out during our sleep and wake up with clarity.

Having read some of the comments where there is strong disagreement to Mrs. Braverman's advice, I think a compromise is in order. If a couple can agree that they want to work this out but that they will make an appointment to discuss it the next day AND affirm their commitment to the relationship and their love for each other despite this disagreement, then I say good night and pleasant dreams!

(12) Anonymous, April 30, 2008 6:58 PM

I'm sorry but..

sadly I disagree. Because there is a place in one of the Seforim that say never go to sleep angry. No matter what try to resolve your problem before you go to sleep, no matter how late it is. In fact I have this motto it is "the way you go to sleep, is the way you wake up". Meaning to say is if you go to sleep upset, you'll get up in a bad mood. The same goes for when you are in a good mood. This is a good test to try. Try going to sleep with a smile on your face, you will see you will feel better. My husband and I do this every night. I wish you all much hatzlocha. And remember to smile. : )

(11) Bebe Fish, April 30, 2008 7:14 AM

Anger disappears but the hurt caused, never.

Words spontaneously spoken always, always expresses what the person feels and believes.

(10) Anonymous, April 30, 2008 5:15 AM

Listen to Grandma!

Sorry, but I strongly disagree with your advice. Not being able to resolve an issue does NOT mean that you should go to bed angry. Train yourself that
before going to sleep forgive each other and say you love one another. Even if you you still feel negative feelings, mitoch she lo lishma ba lishma. Shalom Bayis should not be connected to any issues that arise. One must always be ready for this moment to be the last in life. Return to Hashem with a clean slate.

(9) Ronni, April 29, 2008 9:38 PM

Yes!

Finally! Someone agrees with me afterall. I try to tell this to my female friends and they all disagree with me not knowing that their husbands will do or say anything just to finally get to asleep and nothing is resolved so the fight just repeats itself in a different form at the next opportunity (unless of course it's night and the man has learned better not to say anything then to deal with hours of fighting into the wee hours of the morning).

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