I completely 100% agree with you that button pushers are bullies, and that girls are often exceptionally skilled at it. Completely agree with you that it takes two to create strife in a relationship. Provoking is a terrible thing.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that all of us are both button pushers and button possessors, although to greater and lesser degrees. When we argue and fight, we use this dynamic as a weapon. So ALL of us are responsible for both not pushing others buttons and defusing our own. And that is actually exactly the entire process of successful communication.
I think were we may disagree is to look at a situation like this were children are killed and put a heavy responsibility on the non-involved partner. In any marriage that is breaking up there is a great deal of turmoil. There is a lot of lashing out and button pushing.
However, going over the edge, killing the children and saying essentially the devil made me do it doesn't matter. In the end, we are completely responsible for our own actions no matter who pushed our buttons or bullied us or made us mad. In fact, we can not change other people, we can only change how we respond to it.
It's not that I deny that horrific button pushing happens because it does. And it's not that it isn't an explanation because it might be. What it is not is an excuse for poor (or worse, evil) behavior. My suspicion is that we agree with that and you are wanting to make sure that there is some empathy for those involved. You want us to understand that things like this don't happen in a vacuum. I do.
I would also disagree with you that I didn't learn this lesson in my teens. I think I connected with GoLightly's comment because I am not usually an intentional button pusher (Although I most certainly do it sometimes accidentally as this conversation will attest) but I do get my own buttons pushed far too easily and lash out as a result. What it was is a reminder for me to diffuse those buttons in myself and by doing so I can often do my part in diffusing the situation itself. That is why I connected with it. It was, in fact, simply an acknowledgment of my own weaknesses.
The bottom line is, as adults if we are aware of our own buttons we can better manage our lives in relationship to the button pushers because we too take responsibility for the situation. It is all too easy for those of us who don't push buttons to pass the blame to the bullies and claim victimhood, when we own part of the responsibility for the issue ourselves.
Finally Yes, I am LOVING this lesson too. I learn a great deal from thinking these things through, approaching them from different angles, see alternative perspectives.
You sound like a fine teacher. Thanks for your patience.