When we’re told to “not let the sun go down on our anger” does that mean if we’re arguing about something and it’s getting late, we have to stay up until it’s all resolved? Not necessarily. But what about going to bed angry?
Here’s a thought on this matter from Ron and Judy Blue:
“Settling disputes is never fun. It takes hard work and a mutual commitment to problem solve. It can also take time. If you haven’t reached an agreement by bedtime, put the matter aside with the understanding that you will resume discussion the next day. As Ephesians 4:27 warns, holding on to anger overnight gives the devil a foothold on your life. Don’t leave yourself (or your marriage) vulnerable.”
Going to Bed Angry
Pastor Mark Gungor, in his blog, It’s Okay to Go to Bed When You’re Angry agrees, yet points out something important to note about this issue:
“For years most of us have heard the saying, ‘Never go to bed angry.’ It comes from the scripture in Ephesians 4 where Paul writes: …do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Often people will interpret that to mean they cannot go to bed until they have settled every last detail of the argument. Couples will stay up till the wee hours of the morning hammering at the issues —and each other —trying to get to a resolution.
“I’m sure the verse does not literally mean don’t go to sleep until you’ve completely solved the problem in a way that is totally acceptable to both of you. What it does mean is that you need to let go of the anger, even if the problem is not solved.”
Are You Going to Bed Angry?
After praying about it, Steve and I also believe this scripture doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING has to be settled then and there. But rather, a more peaceable beginning to an end of the squabble is to be put into place. We now no longer suffer from late night fights and sleepy days afterward. If we’re arguing and it’s getting late, we’ve learned (after much practice) to stop. We then agree to visit the matter again at a mutually agreed upon time. We put away our anger, and put our minds on something else for a time. This helps to defuse matters so our anger isn’t escalating deeper into the night. We can then go to bed more peaceably.
We still may not be “happy” with each other yet. But by using this method, we can then “not sin” in our anger and settle the matter later in a healthier way.
Not Going to Bed Angry
We’ve learned that we just can’t resolve the conflicting issue in a healthy way when we’re tired. It works better for us to work it through when we approach it from a fresh perspective. This goes along with something that Lauren McRae wrote:
“They say to ‘never go to bed angry,’ but dealing with conflict while sleep-deprived can be a recipe for disaster. Tired couples may find themselves arguing more than when they are well-rested. One reason for this is that sleep deprivation not only makes your body feel less vibrant, it also affects the way that you think. The effects are more than the typical neural slow-down. It’s not just that a tired person won’t be able to make a quick rebuttal. The danger lies in the fact that the brains of sleep-deprived people work differently. If two people begin in an argument in a state of sleep-deprivation, it may be more challenging than usual to find a solution.”
We encourage you to read the entire article that Lauren wrote because she sites research and shares more important point on this issue. You can read it at:
Nursing the Anger All Night
The hard part is not stewing further over it into the night. It’s easy to nurse the hurt and rehearse what it “seems” important to say. That’s been especially difficult for me. But I can testify that it CAN be done. It’s essential to put intentionality into learning how to do it.
God tells us in His Word not to let “bitterness take root.” (Hebrews 12:14-15) The importance of growing up is also emphasized in scripture. It’s a matter of “putting childish ways behind.” (1 Corinthians 13:11) We are to put away selfishly wanting things resolved OUR way. It also goes along with not being “anxious about anything.” (Philippians 4:6) We are to realize that “love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4) —patient enough to wait until it’s a better time to work through problematic issues.
Steve and I have also learned that sometimes it’s important NOT to bring up a shaky subject when it’s getting late. We instead look for a better time. We try to be aware of H.A.L.T. times —which would be times when either spouse is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. There’s more vulnerability to be less tolerant when those situations are in place.
There’s something else that has helped us. For decades we have prayed together every morning. And because we can’t pray together when we’re angry (our conviction), we need to resolve things sooner, rather than later. There’s not much space there for carry-over anger.
And yet, after all of that, if we still can’t seem to come to a complete agreement, we’ve learned to do what Pastor Gary Inrig and his wife have done. He wrote that, “we can’t always solve the problem. But we always affirm our commitment to ‘us’ and seek to resolve the issue or defang it.”
Letting Go of Anger
So, if you’re able to make it work somehow, it can be okay to go to bed before every argument is resolved as long as you and your spouse can temporarily let go of your anger. Then revisit the issue at a time when you can better achieve a more peaceable resolution. If you can’t, then put on the coffee. You probably have a long night and a pretty tired next day ahead of you. :)
To better help you with this issue of going to bed angry, you might consider doing the following:
“Set aside a time together in a comfortable spot free from everyday distractions. Together, plan out a practical strategy for not ‘letting the sun go down on your anger’ with one another. Make a commitment to each other to follow the plan. Pray together, asking God to help you to honor Him by the way you choose to resolve conflict with each another.” (Leslie Snyder)
Concerning this matter, below are a few scriptures to keep in mind:
“There is a time for everything… a time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7)
“Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20)
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” (Proverbs 29:11)
“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam. So drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:14)
“It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” (Proverbs 20:3)
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19)
We hope this helps in some way,
Cindy and Steve Wright