Take It Back!
By Ed Uszynski
We learned it on the elementary playground. Then it saved our marriage.
Throughout our first few years together, Amy and I kept setting each other off. We’d get into these wild arguments and not even realize how we got there.
At some point we started asking, “How can we stop this before it gets started? Is there some way to head it off before it turns into something we didn’t intend for it to become?”
So we instituted the “take it back” clause.
Let’s pretend I say something that strikes a nerve in Amy. Could be about anything, but it’s causing an escalation of negative emotion inside her.
And I don’t know it. I’m not trying to start something, but it’s happening.
Or maybe I do know it. I’m intentionally trying to poke at her and start something.
In either case, Amy can say “Take it back.” That immediately signals to me that I’m going down a path that is not going to end well.
I can then either reply with “I take it back” or keep plowing forward into the dumpster fire I’m choosing to fan into flame.
If I say, “I take it back” and really have no idea why she’s getting upset, we can take some time to unpack and explore how I’m making her angry.
If I say, “I take it back” and I know exactly what I am doing to stir her up, I can thank her and the Lord above for allowing me an escape before plunging into a self-dug communication grave.
If I recklessly choose to keep going, then we’ll wait for the CSI report to assess the relational damage done.
It’s a clause we both use as needed.
Sounds hokey, but it works, and it’s usually triggered by the Holy Spirit in our lives—if we’ll listen.
Really, “take it back” is just our strategy for living out James’ encouragement to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” with each other (James 1:19). A silly plan that’s had seriously positive results.
The good stuff: The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out. (Proverbs 17:14)
Action points: If either of you start feeling tensions or emotions rising in a discussion this week, take a moment to pause and see if you need to “take back” words you said. If you can, calmly discuss why this might be a hot topic between the two of you.
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