Early in our marriage, my wife and I agreed to never go to bed angry. When we made this promise, we were still love struck newlyweds who didn’t want the honeymoon to end. However, the weight of our promise became evident soon after our first major argument.
I can’t remember what the argument was about, but I do remember both of us sitting on the edge of the bed stewing in our anger. Since we are both stubborn and strong-willed, we were content to sit there until the other made a concession. Fortunately, my wife reminded me of our agreement. Her gentle nudge diffused the tension and allowed us to work on a resolution.
I must admit that sticking to our agreement has not always been easy, especially after having kids. Over the course of our 15 year marriage, it gets harder to find the time to kiss and make up, and quite frankly, our arguments are harder to resolve. There have been nights when we’ve gone to bed angry with each other. We’ve also stayed up until the wee hours of the morning trying to hash out our problems. Sometimes we come up with a solution and sometimes we don’t. But we always try to reach a point where we can speak rationally and without anger.
David and Vera Mace, pioneers in the marriage enrichment movement, developed an acronym (AREA) to help couples deal with anger:
A — Admit your anger to your spouse
R — Restrain your anger and do not let it get out of hand by blaming or belittling
E — Explain in a very calm manner why you are angry
A — Take Action to do something about the cause of the anger
These tips are useful and have helped us to approach our arguments without being overcome by negative emotions. They’ve also helped us to get a good night’s sleep.
My wife and I realize that our time on Earth is short, and we don’t want to waste it by holding on to anger. If one of us were to die in our sleep, neither of us would want to live with the guilt of knowing that our last words were not spoken in love.
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