Go to bed angry: Unpopular but realistic marriage advice

Guest post by Jen Cywinski
By: smplstcCC BY 2.0

I didn't get any bad, syrupy marriage advice from people I know, but I saw plenty of it floating around in movies, in books, and online. It's sort of infectious. In the pre-wedding fog it can affect your sense of self and your confidence. I would shrug it off as nothing, but I sometimes felt panicked. What is this marriage thing I've gotten myself into? I must be mad, am I going mad? Am I depressed? I don't feel like I married the bestest, sweetest, most kindest man in the world, but I love him, is that enough? AGHHHHH!

We're working on year three and I'm fine now. I realize the cutesy advice, even though I dismissed it, had gotten in my brain because I never saw an article titled, “How To Deal With The Crappy Parts Of Marriage As Well As Unrealistic Expectations Of Society.” So, I came up with my own marriage advice that maybe doesn't make you say, “Awwww!”, but later on down the line, after the wedding high descends, might make you feel stronger.

Sometimes marriage sucks. It really does. You're individuals who have decided to always be together and at times it is really annoying that you are so different in some ways. Make sure you each have space to just be you and remember to hang out with other people. You are not an island.

“Never go to bed angry.” Bullshit. Two people who are tired and already upset are not going to make good decisions. They are going to be unreasonable, nonsensical, and cranky. Go to bed, wake up recharged, and figure it out like two well-rested grown ups.

You will change and your spouse will change. People change, it's sometimes scary, but you'll live and get used to it. Just because he/she decides to take up yoga/go vegan/become a cheese maker/become a power lifter doesn't mean they are some other person. They're evolving. Don't let it divide you — evolve together.

“Two becoming one.” No. You are not becoming one entity, you're not welded together, you're not one part of a ball and chain. You are two people who even on bad days choose to stay with that person, because even on the bad days you'd rather be there with them than with anyone else. You know that the bad will pass, you'll take it on as a team, and kick the bad's ass.

Be aware. In my previous point I say you'll get through the bad, but don't become so totally infatuated that you ignore your own well being. We all have bad days where we yell too much or get a little crazy, yes, but don't become victim to domestic abuse.

“Kiss your husband/wife everyday” except if they're sick with the flu or a nasty cold, my friend. There was a time when I thought, “but you HAVE to give me a kiss!” Nuh uh, keep those lips sealed unless it's to swallow zinc and vitamin C supplements. More fluids, chop chop.

Lastly, people are going to ask you, “How's being married?” or “How is married life?” for at least a year after the wedding. It's a nice question, but what does it even mean? I used to answer that it was like life before marriage, except now I live with this guy. My point is that my new answer, if I were asked, is that marriage is like making a better way to do something that's been done a million times before. We are Eli Whitney, Thomas Edison, and Benny Franklin.

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Comments on Go to bed angry: Unpopular but realistic marriage advice

  1. People are shocked when I tell them on ocassions we will sleep in separate rooms due to a fight! I find it extremely uncomfortable to sleep beside ‘the boy’ when we have had a argument…..I mostly want to kick him in the shins, so I go sleep/send him in the spare room. Avoidance technique….well yes, I am a grand one for being extremely snarky and not applying my ‘filter’, so in a tried long standing battle this gives us time to cool down, have a decent sleep and we talk about the next day.

  2. People are shocked when I tell them on ocassions we will sleep in separate rooms due to a fight! I find it extremely uncomfortable to sleep beside ‘the boy’ when we have had a argument…..I mostly want to kick him in the shins, so I go sleep/send him in the spare room. Avoidance technique….well yes, I am a grand one for being extremely snarky and not applying my ‘filter’, so in a tried long standing battle this
    gives us time to cool down, have a decent sleep. we then talk about the next day like adults with cool heads, and most of the time laugh at how silly we are 🙂

  3. Oh, I think people who ask “how’s married life?” are just trying to make conversation. The same thing will happen if a baby comes along: “Hey, how’s that parenting thing working out for you?” which is also an inane question, but you know – that person is just trying to show an interest. I cut them slack and am happy they care enough to ask.

    • I don’t really mind near-strangers asking this, because then I can just give them a vague answer like “great!”, but it’s when close friends or family, who have seen our relationship for years, ask, that I’m not sure WHAT they are asking. Maybe ask me “Has anything changed?” would be better, imo.

  4. You just inspired the bulk of my vows. I’ve been struggling with what to say, with NOTHING coming to mind. Thank you so much for this article. It puts words to what my FH and I have experienced in living together for over a year.

    • Terrific! Vows were a tough one for me, I needed major inspiration. The Musician on the other hand had his scrawled on an envelope when inspiration suddenly struck!

  5. Going to bed angry doesn’t work very well for me, at least not the way that it’s implied in some of these comments and the post. I am a worrier, and when we can’t agree to calm down enough to push the argument off until tomorrow, or to get past it and say, “hey, I love you still, but this is really getting me upset and I need some time alone/to sleep”, then I get all panicky that this argument has become a Big Deal and we might never resolve it, and how can I fall asleep like that? Recently, I have tried this, especially when I’m exhausted and I know that neither of us is being smart about things, and I wake up and don’t know how to bring it up again. And often the morning is so busy that there isn’t time, and then I have this THING looming over my head all day at work, and then what if I get into a car accident and it never gets resolved…. etc etc etc. Basically, I need to talk with my dude before we have another argument, and work something out where he doesn’t necessarily need to tell me he needs time to cool down (but he needs to recognize it), and I need to be able to respect that and realize that it means that we still love each other and things WILL get better, and I can go to bed with that knowledge.

    • I also agree with you. I never used to like to go sleep angry just because it seemed like a bad idea. Then one night I just gave it a try and it turned out I was fine with it but my SO slept like hell because he was stressed/worried about it and it just really messed with his ability to sleep. I am a pretty solid sleeper, even if I am super upset as soon as my head hits that pillow I am out for the night so yey for me I guess? But now that I know he isn’t the same way I don’t want to go to bed angry again because I know it doesn’t work for both us and I’m thinking it’s important to be sensitive to those sorts of things – if it’s going to wreck your sleep, or your partner’s sleep, don’t do it!

  6. I agreed with all of this except going to bed angry. That just doesn’t work for us. We just lie awake, feeling more like shit than before. The anxiety of messing up/hurting the other person is too nagging to ever get a peaceful night’s rest. So…even if we’re blubbering, yelling or even slurring our speech, we’ve just got to suck it up and talk it out.
    But oh man, I wish the guilt monster would let me sleep, that would be so much less embarrassing than sloppy make-up kisses. *dies*

    • Yeah, I was going to say that too. My adrenaline usually has me too amped up for any kind of sleeping at that point.

  7. Ahhh, finally. I’ve always heard people say “Marriage is the hardest thing you’ll ever do!” But never had a clear vision of why. Yes, theoretically I know that sharing your life with another person is hard, but I want specifics! Day-to-day, practical examples that go beyond the whole “he didn’t take out the garbage” cliche. It just doesn’t work when society says that marriage is oh-so-hard and then paints a rosy sparkling picture of it.

    • Yep, it’s not fair to do that, we need facts! I mean, I paint very rough picture with this, but even despite the problems I really do love my husband 😀

      • I say this as someone who has been married, divorced, and now cohabitating with my future second husband: YES, marriage is hard work sometimes and so is any committed relationship. My first marriage sucked because, well, it sucked. It wasn’t fixable, and I clung to it for longer than I should have because of all the times I’d heard other people say marriage takes work, marriage is hard, yadda yadda. But the relationship I’m in now, even though it is happy and fulfilling and wonderful, is sometimes sucky and sometimes hard work. The difference is, the 99% of the time that this relationship is happy and fulfilling and wonderful makes it WORTH the 1% of the time that it takes work.

        I think the difference is, what are you having to fight about? Is it because you’re working 60 hour weeks and coming home to a filthy house while he sits unemployed on the couch smoking weed and watching porn? Is it because on some fundamental level you are not getting your needs met in the relationship and you’re having the same fight over and over again with no resolution because there IS no resolution? (Like, we’re fighting about the fact that you didn’t take out the garbage, but REALLY we’re fighting about an overall lack of respect for me, or I’m nitpicking you about your dirty socks on the floor because I can’t bring myself to open my mouth and have the fight we really need to be having.) Or, are you just tired and burnt out and hangry and sniping at each other over little shit because you both had a shit day at work and really need to eat something?

        Usually in our house it’s the latter, we go to bed angry, and it works. Because even when we go to bed angry, there’s a goodnight kiss and an “I love you.” and usually the next morning whatever lingering hard feelings are there are gone. We might still disagree about whatever we disagreed about, but it’s not something so major that it changes the way we feel about one another and we can usually sit down and talk it out like sane people.

        There is also a serious need to pick your battles. I’m not saying be a doormat or hold your feelings in, but sometimes you have to look at your partner and realize that they are who they are. That wonderful guy that you love is also the guy who is completely unable to stop clipping his nails and leaving little nail bits on the bathroom counter. He does not do it because he’s evil and he hates you and he’s not the ONE, after all…he does it because he’s tired and not as neat as you are, and just does not think about it when he’s doing it. Once the ooey gooey love chemicals and the desire to fuck like rabbits every two hours starts to fade (and it does) you’re left with a real person with faults and annoying habits instead of the idealized lovah you had that first few months when everything was hot and new.

        My dad always told me, only marry someone that you could be happy living in a cardboard box under a bridge with. I didn’t listen to him the first time, but this time I know for sure that I’ve found that person, even if he gets on my nerves sometimes. (And as a neurotic mess, I’m sure that I get on his too.)

  8. Thanks so much for posting this! I think you make some GREAT points that people need to remember. Especially agree with the just go to bed – figure it out in the morning part!

  9. This is awesome. I’ve been with my fiance for twelve years now and we are in such a different place than so many other people I know who are getting married.. and sometimes listening to them talk about their future husbands/wives I get a little insecure. They are so starry eyed with love. A friend who just got married a few weeks ago described her new husband as her “everything” and her “whole entire world” and I found myself wondering very briefly if there was something wrong with my relationship, why wasn’t Chris MY whole entire world? I just had to remind myself that we were in so much of a different place and yes some of that starry eyed magic had faded with time but had been replaced with a real knowledge of each other and the realities of being in a relationship and that is what keeps us strong. He may not be my “everything” but he is my whole helluva lot and when the zombie apocalypse comes there is no one else I’d rather stand back to back with against the undead hoard… but if he’s sick or has bad breath he can just stay the hell away please. 😛
    So again: awesome, and I am totally going to incorporate that paragraph about not becoming one entity into our vows. Hope you don’t mind!

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