I've known Jonah for seven years, been with him for six, and fought with him maybe five times. The last time we argued was so long ago, I can't even remember what it was about, but what I can remember is the time it took place because it's the same time all our fights have taken place: Right before bed.
In high school, I had a fight with my then-boyfriend that practically woke up the entire neighborhood. It was after midnight, and I remember punting his keys on the ground and storming off in a way only a moody teenage girl (think she) can pull off. I was livid and exhausted as my feet pounded the pavement on my walk home. But by the time morning came around, I was... completely calm.
It took me a few years, and a few more relationships to finally realize the issue: I had been following my grandmother's advice, "Never go to bed angry" when I should have been ignoring it. Most of my fights have been caused, and fueled, by the simple fact that I was tired.
Driving in L.A. has taught me that some people just love to fight. But that so isn't me. I very rarely get into arguments and consider grudges to be an enormous waste of time and energy. So the few times I've fought in my life, with a friend or a boyfriend, my first instinct has been to talk through it ad nauseam until both parties feel heard and healed. But here's the thing: There comes a point when you're too tired and honestly too cranky, or the feelings are just too raw, for a productive conversation.
At least for me, a flip switches and suddenly I'm saying things I would never say when I'm not physically (or emotionally) exhausted. I say hurtful things, desperate for the argument to end so I can go to sleep. At the end of a long day, a simple request to "wash the rest of the dishes" can escalate into something ugly.
These days, the moment Jonah or I detect any friction in the evening, we call a "time out." Are we over-tired? Do we really need to figure-out the delegation of dish-washing this minute? If the answer is "No," we put a pin in it until the morning.
As soon as Jonah and I figured this out, we literally stopped fighting. The spark that has the potential to flame-out at night always fizzles into something that can be easily solved, come morning. With all due respect to my grandmother, I'm taking my own advice these days: "Go to bed angry. But make up over coffee."
I'd love to hear: What's the relationship advice you've ignored? Do you go to bed angry? Share in the comments below!