5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 When Your Spouse Pushes Your Buttons

Liam called for help. He described the problem.

“When she doesn’t respect me, I lose it. I don’t realize it in the moment, but I begin to yell. I say hurtful and mean things to her. I don’t know what to do when I blow up like that.”

Liam described that what he would rather do was to be able to handle her disrespect in a better way. He was at a loss about how to be the spouse he wanted to be when his wife pushed his buttons.

“A hot head provokes quarrels, and one mastered by anger commits all kinds of sins.” Proverbs 29:22 (VOICE)

What Pushes Buttons

When a spouse feels a large amount of energy about what a spouse has done or said or not done or said, we say that your spouse pushed your button. Usually the energy you feel in your body includes one or more of the following:

  • Sad – You feel hurt. You have some sense of loss or separation.
  • Anger – You feel like you cannot get something you want. You are blocked.
  • Fear – You feel threatened by your spouse. You perceive danger in your future.

You cannot change what pushes your buttons, but you can change what you do when your buttons are pushed.

When Your Spouse Pushes Your Buttons

Usually what we do when our spouse pushes our buttons is something that we later regret. We act out of the emotional part of our brain and there is little thought to what we say or do.

The most important thing to do when you become aware that your buttons have been pushed is to take a Time Out.

5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1

One of the most useful tools we have found to help de-escalate ourselves and those around us when buttons are pushed is the 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 technique. We like it because it can be done unilaterally and it can be done anywhere at any time. It begins to move you back out of the emotional part of your brain into the thinking and reasoning part of your brain so that you can make conscious decisions that are more in line with your relationship goals.

The first step is to stop what you are doing. Follow the rules for a Time Out and begin the 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 approach.

  • FIVE – Notice and name five objects you see. Dart your eyes around and pick and name those five things.
  • FOUR – Notice and name four things that are touching you. Notice you feeling your clothing items on you, the temperature of the room, the floor you are standing on or the chair you are sitting in.
  • THREE – Notice and name three things that you hear. Notice the sounds around you. Traffic in the distance, birds outside the window, a device or TV that is on, the sound of the HVAC unit, or anything else you are hearing.
  • TWO – Notice and name two things that you can smell. What aromas are in your environment?
  • ONE – Notice and name what you taste. What does your tongue and mouth sense?

After using the 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 technique, you will find yourself better able to develop an action plan that will move you more closely toward your relationship goals. You will find it easier to think and reason, instead of acting in a way that you will later regret.

What do you have to say?

We love to hear from readers.  What do you do when your buttons get pushed that you later regret?  Did you try the 5-4-3-2-1 approach?  If so, did it help you move into a better place to take your relationship goals into consideration before acting out?  Do you know someone you need to forward this to?

This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2016. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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