In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry (Ephesians 4:26, NIV)
We took this as literally as possible. If we were not at peace with each other, we thought we had to stay up all night until we had resolved every scrap of our fight.
Right now I’m having a good belly laugh thinking about it. Then? Not so funny.
So in bed we would sit, with the bedside table lit. One of us (usually me) just wanted to sleep already. The other one was trying to figure out the quickest way to put a nice, tidy bow on our argument.
We were even less loving and respectful because we knew we had to stay up until we had really made up with each other, and we were taking it out on the other person!
It took us awhile to realize that if we got a little bit of sleep, we would wake up with a fresh perspective and have much more love and forgiveness and compromise to offer. Go figure. 😉
Nowadays, we usually fight in the evening because that’s the only time we can have a real conversation! Usually, we are all resolved and in love again when we go to sleep. But there are times where we have to come to a stopping point. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go to bed in a huff – hence the verse above. Both of you end up mad, miffed, confused, and not in a good place when you wake up.
But if we can’t resolve something, sometimes we just recognize that. “I hear that you feel hurt by this and want XYZ. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around XYZ instead of ABC. Can we think and talk about it some more (tomorrow/at lunch/whenever you can)?”
The verse says don’t sin in your anger. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Not “Don’t let the sun go down on your conflict.”
I heard a really awesome suggestion for this especially for pastor’s wives. A PW in our city said that early in their marriage and ministry, she would always seem to have a conflict with her husband near the weekend (i.e., before Sunday morning when he would have to preach and be focused on shepherding). When she realized they were always fighting on the weekend, she thought Oooo I bet that enemy just loves me getting all riled up and seeing us in conflict while my husband is trying to teach the Word of God.
And she made a resolution. She decided that if she felt hurt or upset by something near the weekend, instead of bringing it up and kicking off an argument, she would just wait until after church on Sunday to talk about it.
She was happily surprised when Sunday rolled around and she could hardly remember what little thing she was so upset about. So if you’re a PW, consider this! I have been trying this out myself, and I think (hope) it’s made a lot of difference in my husband’s Sundays.