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Pushing Buttons

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Being married to someone for a long time doesn’t just build a family, it also builds familiarity.  You know exactly what buttons you can push with your spouse.  It’s like a superpower in a way, and with great power comes great responsibility.

Nick: There are times when I don’t use my powers for good.  Sometimes, I push Jen’s buttons just for the sake of mischief, like dropping unnecessary puns or reading innuendos into the words she’s saying even when it’s clear that isn’t what she means.  Sometimes I get the laugh I’m looking for, but not always.

Other times, I can push it even further.  For example, when Jen asks a question like “do you want to go to the home store and get some things and do some stuff around the house?”  I push her buttons by going along with her but not really being a part of it.  I make a show of pretending to be indifferent and don’t really engage when she asks for my opinion.  In my worst examples of this, I realize I’m doing it on purpose, knowing it will bother her and thinking I’m entitled to do so because I didn’t want to go to the store in the first place.
It never goes well when I’m pushing these sorts of buttons.  We end up giving each other the cold shoulder and spending time in our opposite corners of the house, quiet, grumbly and distant.

Jen: While I know which of Nick’s buttons I can push to really irritate him, I also know which buttons I can push that he appreciates or responds well to. For instance, there are times when Nick has to stay up late on an emergency call from work. When this happens, I can choose to break out of our usual routine of him getting up to feed the cats the next morning, and I can quietly get up and do it instead. Letting him rest longer and bringing coffee back to the bedroom with me pushes his “gentle wake up” button and starts his day off better after a long night. Nick recognizes and responds to my care for him. Our relationship benefits throughout the rest of the day through more connectedness and caring touches.

Just like the Justice League, we are like superheroes when we work to defeat our own self-centeredness and focus on our spouse. We can choose to use our superpowers to push the buttons that improve our relationship. When we do this successfully, we are rewarded every time. 

What about you? When you are next presented with a choice between pushing the button to help your spouse or pushing the button to irritate your spouse, which will you choose? We encourage you to look ahead from the moment and imagine the results, because with great power comes great responsibility.

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