It looks like when it comes to “sleep on it” versus “never go to bed angry,” “never go to bed angry” wins. Researchers found that participants were actually less likely to forget negative moments when they slept without resolving them. But for those who have ever lived with a partner or spouse or even just been in a relationship, you know that this is easier said than done.
After an exhaustive fight it might be easy to just throw in the towel and circle back to the issue in the morning, but that’s actually not the case. Issues that go unresolved are harder to forget after “sleeping on it,” says the study. So if walking away is no longer the option, what are you to do?
Start with healthy communication.
Avoid “you” statements and stick with “I” statements. This is hard, but it makes you a lot easier to listen to in a conflict. Your partner likely loves and cares for you, but when you approach an issue with “you did this” or “you are this” it sends people on the defense. Allowing them to see more how you are feeling rather than pinning every issue on their action will help them see your side of things and vice versa.
Couples who integrate humor into arguments (not put downs or making fun) often “fight” better. They can de-escalate tense moments with quick jokes that take both people off the defensive and on communication grounds again.
Take some space if you need.
Just because it’s not best to go to bed angry doesn’t mean you should avoid all space. If you feel yourself getting heated and having difficulty calming down, step away for five or ten minutes then come back when you are more calm.