Hi, I'm Dr Ryan Fuller. I have a private practice in New York City and because I specialize in anger management, I've also done a lot of work with couples because what we know is that in close, intimate relationships, anger is something that frequently comes up. One of the questions I get a lot is, "Should we ever go to bed angry?"
There's been lots of literature over the years that recommends people should never go to bed angry. Now while I understand where that comes from, to some extent I in fact recommend that there are times when in fact it's a very, very good strategy. In fact in couples work oftentimes if anger is a big issue, I recommend after a certain time of night, depending on the couple's schedule that they in fact do not talk about anything that could lead to conflict.
What we know is that self-regulation or sort of our will power to sort of keep our aggressive impulses or urges in check breaks down throughout the day as we're sort of stressed and fatigued by decisions and the stressors of work and just becoming tired. And so for a lot of couples, merely bringing up a controversial topic very late at night when both parties are tired in fact is a recipe for a really poor set of communication. So while it's important not to ignore the issue, it's critical that these two people contract ahead of time that they're gonna work out their problems at a different time. And so I actually recommend that people, if they're really angry and it's a conflictual issue, that they talk to the other person and let them know that they want to address it, but now is not the time. It can be a very good idea in fact to go to bed angry.
What we know is in terms of some of the predictors of divorce, they are very closely tied to anger and resentment, and so it's critical that couples really do learn how to communicate and when to communicate in ways that are effective at reducing the overall level of anger and not exacerbating it by following some rule about never going to bed angry.