Have you ever gotten into a fight and been so angry with your partner that you wanted to walk out the door? Your whole body is tense, heart is pumping, mind whizzing and you're just plain seething mad?
How then do you lie down in bed together? Do you turn over, back towards your partner and sleep as close to your side of the bed as possible? Do you choose not to sleep in the bedroom but opt instead for the couch?
What's it like for you in the morning after a night like that? Are you still angry? Angrier? Hurt? Upset?
Then what happens? Is there any resolution or does life move on, the origin of the fight forgotten (or buried) and it's back to the daily routine.
How about trying something different?
How about NOT going to bed angry?
I know it's hard. Especially if you're a big cry baby like me. Once I start, it can be impossible to hold back the emotional flood. Sometimes it's so bad that the words can't even come out. I hiccup and choke, then there's the constant stream of snot. Not pretty BUT effective.
Here's why we have to talk - because when we fight with someone we love what we really feel underneath is hurt. Hurt that they can't see our point of view, hurt that they might think badly of us, maybe even mad at ourselves for hurting them and that hurts. It's the sting of disappointment.
Lately when these episodes have come up for me, it's been around my partner's inability to see my side of a story or believe my viewpoint. This can be super frustrating partly because I hate feeling misunderstood. And if I'm not careful, I quickly fall down the rabbit hole of victim - "why can't anyone understand me" or my defenses go up and it's "f*** you then."
But if I can take a step back and instead of feeding my need to be right, I can say. "You know, I'm feeling attacked right now by your response" or "I really feel like you cannot hear me right now."
Then I have to also attempt to recognize my role in it. Am I being genuine or unrealistic? Am I just picking a fight because I'm in a bad mood? Between these two strategies, I can usually de-escalate myself and the situation.
Choosing to talk instead of avoiding (and staying mad) is the brave path. We have to swallow our pride, overcome feeling wounded and speak up. YOUR relationship is worth it. Every time I do this, it strengthens my marriage. Otherwise those unsaid words and hurt feelings build up. And brick by emotional brick, they create a wall between you and the one you love most. So, be brave and open up. Share when you're angry and resolve it. Be willing to talk about the fight, own your part. Help your partner own theirs and go to bed in peace.