Going to Bed Angry Is Actually Good Relationship Advice

Cold brews in hand, it was 10 am on a Saturday morning as my partner drove us up to Ojai, a small, village-like valley nestled between the Topatopa Mountains in Southern California. Known for its boutique hotels and sherbet sunsets, the place is the dictionary definition of romantic getaway, but we were far from living our best fairy tale lives. Instead, we were in the middle of an argument, and spent most of the drive staring at the road ahead, attempting to communicate our hurt feelings from the heated disagreement that occurred the night before.

The conflict at hand wasn’t even a big one—tbh, they rarely are. It was over something he’d said; I’d interpreted his statement one way, he’d intended it another, and it exploded into me using the incident to make sweeping generalizations about him and our relationship. We (well, mostly me) felt protective over our perspectives but struggled to empathize with each other. (Again, it’s me, hi, i’m the problem it’s me.)

While we tried to duke it out the night before so that we didn’t go to bed angry (Relationship Advice 101), both of us were too tired, heated, and tipsy to make any real progress. Which turned out to be excellent timing, seeing as the whole purpose behind the Ojai trip wasn’t simply to relax… it was to meet a couple’s psychic.

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This type of excursion isn’t unusual—at least not for me. I first heard about Nancy Furst in an email from the Ojai Valley Inn, a luxury resort and spa that is A) absolutely breathtaking and B) perfect for season 3 of The White Lotus. I consider myself ~woo-woo~ enough to where I own a few crystals and know my sun, moon, and rising signs, but I’m not about to avoid big life decisions simply because Mercury is in retrograde. I’m also very interested in self-improvement and interpersonal relationships. A couple’s psychic (aka, a spiritual counselor) seemed like the ideal balance between mysticism and practicality.

Thankfully, we managed to patch things up just enough before arriving at Nancy’s, so she didn’t know we’d just been in a fight. Her space was designed for relaxation: we were greeted with incense, soothing music, and a large window looking out onto the valley. Nancy was warm and welcoming, inviting us into her chambers (what else do you call a psychic’s office?) with a wide, maternal smile.

“Tell me,” she asked, her sapphire eyes staring into my soul. “Why are you here?”

I went first, explaining that I’ve always been interested in spirituality and was curious about bringing it into our relationship with the goal of improving our communication. My partner agreed and said that he was working on speaking his mind a bit more while still being cognizant of my perspective. We both knew we could do better with the whole empathy thing, and most importantly, we loved each other and wanted to grow together.

“That’s wonderful,” Nancy said. “You both seem really advanced.” Flattery was getting Nancy everywhere; the compliment both disarmed and relaxed us. We sank into the chairs and released deep breaths. On top of Nancy’s support, hearing my partner vocalize his love and respect for our relationship relieved some of the stress I’d felt earlier that morning. I squeezed his hand.

“How about we start with each of you individually?” she asked. Nancy used sage, guided meditation, and sound healing to slip us into meditative-like states. Afterwards, she had us each choose two crystals from her collection—whichever we felt most pulled to—and then discussed what those crystals meant. We then did the same thing with tarot cards, until Nancy started to garner an idea of ​​where we were each at in relation to our families, our work, and ourselves.

Once Nancy was finished with our individual sessions, we shared how we felt with each other. We were both incredibly relaxed (who doesn’t love slipping into a meditative state at a resort?) and I felt both alert and at ease. I told my partner that I felt seen and committed to our growth—both as individuals and as partners. When it was his turn to speak, I found myself glued to the edge of my seat. I’d never heard him share his spiritual self so candidly before. Seeing him do so made me appreciate him in a completely new way, and dare I say, helped me empathize with him. I suddenly thought How could I have ever been mad at this person? He’s literally just a human on Earth, doing his best, just like me.

We finished the session by talking about our relationship, addressing how we could carry empathy into moments of conflict and iron out the wrinkles of a tough conversation with grace and respect. And because we had reached a meditative state before diving into our issues, we were able to approach the dialogue with ease, rather than defensiveness.

Prior to this experience, I lived by the cliche of “never going to bed angry.” I convinced myself it was the only way to ensure we could fix whatever problem was at hand. But after our session with Nancy, I realized that taking the time to pause and calm down before addressing conflict can be far more efficient than hashing it out when heads are still hot. We don’t necessarily need Nancy to put us into trance-like states in order to communicate better (though that would be pretty sick), we both just need to reach a calm, clear state before addressing conflict. Sometimes that means going for a walk, sometimes that looks like hugging, and yeah, sometimes that looks like going to bed angry—not duking it out at 11 pm the night before an early road trip.

The whole experience got me thinking about how much black and white advice we get regarding our relationships. “Happy wife, happy life.” “Opposites attract.” “Distance makes the heart grow fonder,” and so on and so forth. And while, yes, there are some things I would deem to be Generally Good Advice (like, you know, listening to one another and being honest), it’s impossible to put cliches on unique, individual relationships. Through this experience, I learned it’s more about finding systems and tools that work for you and your partner, specifically, and implementing them with respect and kindness.

Nancy didn’t foresee the success or demise of our relationship—how ​​could she? But she did teach us how to look at our conflicts with empathy and patience. It’s not the psychic experience I would have “predicted,” but I did come out of it with a new perspective on what it takes to fight fair. So forget what you might’ve heard—next time you’re in an argument with your partner, try going bed angry and see how it feels. It doesn’t have to make your fight worse, or extend it, or make your partner angrier with you than they already are, but it can give you the time and rest you need to re-center and approach the situation with a clear mind. Thank me (and Nancy) later.


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