Nothing is more aggravating in relationships than having your buttons pushed by the one you love. It seems ironic that the one you love could make you so insane. But once the honeymoon period cools and real life sets in, we all take our partners off the pedestal and begin to notice their less than finer points. People often ask me how to fix common relationship problems such as this. Sometimes the best thing to do is just let the dark parts come up so you can shine a light on them. As Mary Sarton once said, "No partner in a love relationship should feel that he has to give up an essential part of himself to make it viable." True love is a state of freedom and authenticity. It is not our place to try to fix, change or make somebody else okay in life.

Not a Bad Thing
Your partner probably brings up some of the unresolved issues and forces you to revisit and reflect on that within you that needs some attention and healing. Relationships often bring all our "issues" up. Bringing these things to light is not necessarily a "bad thing."

Lessons To Learn
The people who show up in our lives all have a lesson to bring us or learn with us. When relationships are difficult is often because they are highlighting a hidden part of the self that we have disowned or weren't even aware of. Intimate relationships beg us to explore our shadow selves. These shadows are not the "boogie man/woman;" they are signs that within lives unknown aspects of self. In many cases, these parts would never be discovered, were it not for the partner who pushes your buttons! The gift is it is a chance to look for deeply into ourselves... and an opportunity to love ourselves even more by loving "the other."

Even Difficult Relationships are Sacred
If someone shows up in your life to share love, you have been given the great gift of a partner to help you navigate the sometimes smooth, and sometimes choppy, ocean of Relationships. This person can be a romantic partner, a friend, a co-worker, or a family member. If a relationship or interaction is stimulating or triggering negative emotions or fears, note where this person makes you angry, what about them makes your blood boil; get in touch with how it is you may feel unloved or upset around them. Then consider they are reflecting something to you that comes from within you. It is one of the hardest lessons for us to learn in life because we always want to point a finger at the other person.

The Responsibilities of Loving
In these relationships, you may feel that you want to flee… but you cannot flee from yourself. You will only recreate the same pattern elsewhere. When you learn to pay attention to the darker side of relationships and not be fearful simply because it is dark, you will learn which relationships are truly good for you and which you must leave behind. And you will be able to learn which partnerships are ultimately healing and which add injury and insult. This is a process that requires you to take a lot of personal responsibility - to detect and admit your own imbalances and to take on the work of healing them, and by observing and making a decision to alter co-dependent and unhealthy behaviors.

Steering the Relationship
Love, by its very nature, brings with it a subtle yet sweeping transformative power that brings us closer to our own greatness. But each partner in a love relationship - as well as friends and family members - must get there of their own accord, with love as the gentle impetus, not as the sledge hammer that enforces change. You can't fix your partner, although you can begin to alter your own understanding, behavior and consciousness in the relationship. You can begin to steer the relationship toward a more conscious exploration of the shadowy sides of loving and being intimate with another.

Know When it's Over
Some people come to us to teach us and then they move on. Some come to learn with us but fail to take away from the relationship the lessons that will empower them to grow. It is important to assess the signs of a partner who has no intention to evolve. The proof here is in the pudding: they simply never make any effort to change and you end up doing all emotional work in the relationship. You will naturally want to do all you can to help this person along, but there will come a time of reckoning, of absolute truth telling, when you must assess if a relationship has run its course. And it is always wise to clarify the differences between getting your buttons pushed as a natural process of relating and being in a relationship that is filled with a lot of upset and aggravation.

Final Word
Talk to your loved one and see if she/he is willing to discuss the situation and find out her/his point of view as well: Is she/he feeling her buttons pushed by you? Telling the truth, and opening the door to her telling the truth, is the first step to liberate you and your loved one from a negative pattern you may be stuck in. See if you can open the dialog for some conscious and loving exploration. It's always a more pleasant experience if you and your partner can deal with things in a conscious, loving way. Good luck!

Copyright © 2003 Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway is an author, teacher and contemporary clergy person specializing in matters of the heart and soul. She is creator and instructor of "Create Your Romantic Resumé: A 30-Day Program to Transform Your Romantic Destiny," an email course available exclusively at She authored "A Goddess Is a Girl's Best Friend: A Divine Guide To Finding Love, Success and Happiness" (Perigee Books, December 2002).