in: Dating & Relationships

Embracing the Button-Pusher: Lovers as Teachers

Up-close love is hard.

It’s easier to write a check for an orphan across the ocean than it is to have compassion for that guy across the breakfast table (who’s eating with his mouth open, again) or that girl in the bedroom (who just slammed the door in your face, again).

Is it really any wonder that a monk can live in solitude with no one around to push his buttons? He can meditate, eat, walk, clean—all day long in peace and quiet. Whereas you share 500 square feet with a guy who watches football as enthusiastically as a woman giving birth.

Forget chanting mantras in a cave. An intimate relationship? Now that’s advanced spiritual practice. You want an arena to work out your deepest fears? Welcome to your living room. Your significant other can push buttons like no one else (except maybe your mom).

But guess what? You’re the one with the buttons, honey. Own them. When your partner “pushes” that button, they are touching a hot fear or pain; lucky for you, this trigger means there is opportunity for growth.

May Luck Bring You a Petty Tyrant

I grew up saying “groovy” and yes, wearing bell-bottoms. We read books by this guy named Carlos Castenada, who had a fictional, mystical hero named Don Juan. Now, Don Juan smoked a lot of peyote—which I wouldn’t recommend—but he was sort of an Obi Wan Kenobi, a trainer of spiritual warriors. He taught that if you’re really lucky, you’ll have an awesome “petty tyrant” in your life, the ‘One Who Drives You Crazy.’

That’s your teacher. The person who totally gets under your skin is actually helping to train you in the ways of discipline, patience, perseverance, and will—all critical qualities of a peaceful warrior, one who can walk the world without buttons.

So she pushes your buttons, and you end up yelling. How’s that working for you?

Now you have an opportunity to be grateful when he makes you want to pull your hair out; because it’s not about him, it’s about you… and your buttons.

I had a boyfriend who was deeply jealous. This seemed crazy because I’m as loyal as a dog, but he was always suspicious. It drove me mad. I yelled, argued, lectured, tried logic, silence, and humor. Nothing worked until I identified my part in the drama: my ego would go haywire in response to being “unjustly accused” of something.

I learned to set boundaries—clear, consistent boundaries—around his accusations. I learned not to engage and to “detach with love” as they say in Al-Anon. It was an amazing and invaluable lesson.

We carry baggage—suitcases full of childhood traumas real and perceived. In a safe, loving relationship we get to work this stuff out. So next time your partner makes you want to scream, don’t. Take a breath and be grateful for your teacher. We need to embrace our lovers as teachers. This person you’ve committed yourself to is helping you dig up and resolve some dark stuff, all so you can be opened and full of light.

And that, you can’t find in a cave.


[photo: via pixabay]

About the Author:


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