I believe my wife is the perfect match for me: she's smart, creative, sexy and loving. And Meg also knows how to push my buttons in a way that drives me up the wall. That also makes her perfect for me.
I was reminded of this recently as I turned on my heel to get away from Meg as fast as possible. It was one of those times when my smart, sexy wife was pushing my buttons so hard it felt like my head was about to explode.
We were going through the family finances and she was questioning my expenses: another case of wine, picking up the tab for fancy dinners, and yes, for the five-hundredth time, a ski jacket. We'd agreed to clear these sorts of purchases with each other. And here she was, reading through the list of charges and it felt like the Spanish Inquisition to me.
Why Marry the Button-Pusher?
Many couples have their own version of this recurring drama. For some, it's the central repeating pattern of their relationship. So why do we marry exactly the person who can drive us the most crazy, who knows exactly how to push our buttons to maximum effect?
Here's my answer: I married Meg not despite the fact that she could push my buttons, but precisely because she could push them so well. Though I didn't do it consciously, I married exactly the person I need to show me what I still need to learn and to love about myself.
For a long time I didn't believe this -- I thought Meg was basically a wonderful wife who also happened to have a big streak of b*tch. My job was to avoid bringing out the b*tch, and when she did come out, to weave and bob until the storm passed.
But here's the thing: that approach never worked. It just ended the fight at a draw and laid the groundwork for it to flare up again. That's because Meg wasn't doing anything -- it was my reaction to her that created the drama most of the time. Until I got a handle on myself, things would never change.
Allies or Enemies?
It wasn't until I entertained this radically strange question that things began to change: "How is it that Meg is totally for me, like on my side even when I can't see it, when she is pushing my buttons?"
Once I gave up trying to defend myself from what I imagined were unfair attacks and instead asked, "What can I learn from this?" my "buttons" dissolved. I shifted my view to see Meg as my ally. It's the touchstone commitment to making learning more important than being right -- something my colleagues at the Conscious Leadership Group have brought to the business world.
Often in a relationship we have a choice between being right or being happy. I finally chose happiness.
We marry exactly the people who can push those buttons because those buttons are the most important issues for our development as adults in a loving relationship. Until those buttons are understood and rewired, we are always going to have people pushing them.
That's the essence of creating a conscious relationship -- using the relationship with someone you trust to illuminate the areas that are blocking your deeper connection with them, and with yourself. Creating the intention to focus on the feelings, stories and judgments that come up when your partner pushes a button enrolls you both as allies in dissolving the drama.
As soon as I started seeing Meg as an ally in diffusing long-standing patterns like overspending, I actually got more of what I wanted. More importantly, I connected with Meg more deeply, and realized I HAD married a b*tch -- a woman who would speak her mind, and I'm a better man because of it.
Tim Peek is a certified executive coach who advises leaders and their teams on using disruption, consciousness, and strategy to create their desired future. www.peekdisruption.com and www.conscious.is/who-we-are
Meg Dennison is a certified conscious leadership coach who has reinvented herself many times. She coaches busy women midpoint in their life or career to consciously create their next step based on genius and life goals. www.megdennison.com
Together, Meg and Tim write about how they turned around what had become a stale and uninspiring 28-year marriage to return to the passion and purpose to their lives. Motivated executives come to Meg and Tim for help reinvigorating their careers, companies and intimate relationships.