In our new book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry, Stay Up and Fight!, my husband Ron and I bust a Bible myth. Every Christian couple heard it in pre-marital counseling. Sometimes it came as bridal shower advice from Aunt Anna. And if you haven’t heard it in a women’s Bible study you’re just not at the right church! You know the verse: don’t let the sun go down on your anger. For years I thought that meant we had to keep at it till we solved the problem, identified a solution, or achieved a harmonious outcome.
Nope. We got it wrong, and so have millions of marrieds who were taught “No solution. No sleep.” Or more often for us, at least a cease fire that masqueraded as a solution when we were both too worn out to care any more and one of us said, “Uncle” and threw in the towel.
That’s not what it means. Look at it again. “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,” Eph. 4:25 (NLT). It doesn’t say “don’t go to bed till you’ve brokered a deal.” Or “Stay up until dialogue creates unity and perfect alignment.” We’ve been overthinking this and making it all far too complicated. Don’t go to bed angry. But by all means, go to bed. Makes perfect sense – and my mother always said that going to bed mad was bad for your digestion anyway.
How long does it take to realize, “Whoa, we’ve let our emotions get way out of hand.” You know when you’ve crossed that line. A good rule of thumb is if there are tears, accusation, blame, or someone spitting while s(he) talks – you’re there. And when you’ve acknowledged that, the rest is easy—or at least possible. ” I don’t feel good about how we’re doing this, and I’m fairly sure God’s not feeling honored by our behavior. Can we put a stake in this for tonight, pray and release the anger we’re experiencing, and come back together in the morning with clear heads?”
It requires both of you to make the decision. But it only takes one of you to speak up to propose it.
It’s not the weight of the conflict that drags us down. It’s how long we’re willing to hold on to it. To illustrate this point perfectly, take a moment to watch this 2-minute You Tube flick. It’s worth it’s weight in gold.