Don’t Go To Bed Angry

The Bible admonishes us to “let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Eph. 4:26).  Some have paraphrased this scriptural mandate with the simple phrase “don’t go to bed angry”.  These are sound words to apply in any relationship or situation.  But, certainly we would be remiss if we did not apply this timeless wisdom to our marriage and home life first and foremost.  After all, our family relationships are the most important of all our human associations.

The fact is that late in the evening – while preparing for the night’s sleep – is one of the worst times for families to allow negative communication to take place.  Discord at this time will cause stress, anxiety, and so forth at the exact time when one’s body and mind need to be calmed and relaxed more than any other in order to function optimally.  This is the case not only for you, but also for your spouse, children, or anyone else with whom conflict arises at this time.  Such restlessness does not merely have adverse consequences for a few moments or hours – but can potentially cause a physical and mental fatigue that can endure for a long time.

Such a scenario can certainly serve to further exasperate the problematic issue at hand and harm relationships, in general.  Indeed, if allowed to fester overnight, seemingly mild conflicts can potentially devolve into serious problems and cause major tension and division in the marriage and family.  As the Word reveals, permitting anger to continue into the night gives place to the adversary, creating an opportunity for contention and strife (Eph. 4:27).

There are two important considerations for ensuring that you, your spouse, and your family don’t go to bed angry.  First, simply determine to cease all forms of negativity and conflict during this critical time.  This is not a good time to address problems, attempt to solve difficult dilemmas, or approach uncomfortable topics.  Don’t burden each other with concerns that will cause tension or stress.  It is not being suggested that you undermine openness and honesty in the home – merely that you choose a more appropriate time of day for unpleasant deliberations to take place.

Second, it is essential to consciously establish peace and concord in the home at this time.  As a spouse or parent, take it upon yourself to create an environment of respite and serenity in the home as the day draws to a close.  Utilize kind words and thoughtful actions.  Give each other space to relax and prepare for the next morning’s activities and for a good night’s sleep.  Try to end each day with prayer and devotion – which will certainly bring a lasting peace like nothing else can.

Keep in mind that if people didn’t have a problem with going to bed angry then the Bible wouldn’t address it.  Unfortunately it happens at times.  When disagreements or mild conflicts do unintentionally arise in the late evening, do your best to recognize it, take steps to dissipate it quickly, and restore an environment of harmony.  Don’t allow negativity to influence or distract you at this important time.  This does not require that you settle the issue at hand in its entirety before going to sleep.  Generally this is neither practical nor possible.  Rather, do you best to dissipate the anger and affirm your love towards one another in the fear of God.

Kirk VanOoteghem serves as Executive Pastor of River of Life in Muncie, Indiana.  He has many years of experience as a marriage counselor and educator and is the founder of MarriageMoment.org – an online ministry dedicated to protecting and strengthening marriages.

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