Stepmom: You’re the Expert

23 03 2011

Most of us have heard the old adage, “Don’t go to bed mad.” And it’s good advice as a general rule of thumb. But just like clothing, one size does not fit all. One couple I spoke with this week has tossed that advice out because it doesn’t work for them. If they’re arguing before bed and they start to get tired, they both know that neither of them will be able to have a rational discussion. To continue discussing the heated topic will only result in a downward spiral of emotional debate that doesn’t get them anywhere.

Instead, they say, “I love you honey. I know we’ve got to talk about this some more, but I’m tired and need to go to bed. Let’s finish this tomorrow.” And they really do go to bed and sleep.

This couple has done two important things:

1. Relaxed their bodies. Going to sleep allows their cortisol and adrenaline levels to fall back down so their bodies are not in a fight or flight state. That means their brains can actually function better and they see the solutions to problems easier.

#2. Reassured each other. By saying “I love you, honey,” they have taken away any threats to the relationship itself. It’s a bonding agent that says, “we’re in this together.” Instead of setting up a power play, it builds camaraderie.

The other couple I spoke with this week goes to bed, too. But they feel guilty because they’re “supposed” to be doing what the experts say. I say, you’re the expert. If you know that going to bed calms you down and allows you to have the discussion in a new light in the morning, for heavens sake, go to bed!

If, on the other hand, you go to bed and punish your partner with a turned back or stay up all night stewing about it, then you might want to re-think your approach. The important thing is to preserve your relationship so your partnership doesn’t take a hit even if you’re mad. Conflict is just part of the deal in relationships and learning how to deal with in a way that doesn’t harm each other is key.

What about you? Have you and your partner come up with ways to deal with conflict that work really well for you? Please share them with the rest of us so we can try them out at home!


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2 responses

23 03 2011
bluemom

I like these tips. I often do not WANT to go to bed but when we go to bed relaxed, not all pent up and angry I often wake up and think, why did this seem like such a big deal last night?

24 03 2011
Chaz

Agreed. I have tried to resolve things for the sake of not going to bed angry but was not yet in a place to solve the problem.

The adage of “dont go to bed angry”, is often referenced to a phrase in the Bible that recommends, “dont let the sun go down on your wrath”. Neither of these suggestions specifically say, “solve the problem”.

How can we if we are exhausted or in what I refer to as an “emotional concussion” from the blast of the argument or issue? Even the 24-hour rule of returning hurtful emails seems to agree that we are not in a rational state and should sleep on it before replying.

So acknowledging that our spouses are more important than the issue, confirming we love them, then getting the sleep we may very well need in order to be capable of problem-solving makes perfect sense.

Ciao.

Chaz

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