Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a few weeks, a few months, or a few years, you’ve learned that communication is critical and foundational for things to work out. Some of us are naturally good at expressing our feelings and our needs, while many of us struggle to share personal thoughts that would help us love our partner well, and be loved well in return. We all want to be known intimately by someone else, and to feel safe and secure while we reveal and unveil more of our soul with each other. This *is* relationship – this is what Rachel and I signed up for, and this is how we were meant to be and live and love together.
We all want to be known intimately by someone else, and to feel safe and secure while we reveal and unveil more of our soul with each other.
But it requires effort on my part to happen. I’m good with that – I want it and am willing to do what it takes. And while we talk a lot – on the couch, in bed together, at the dinner table, while driving around town – I’ve discovered the importance and value of asking Rachel a single, intentional question on a regular basis to prompt steady, meaningful growth in our relational intimacy.
“How’s your heart?”
It’s not a complicated question. But it often elicits a complicated and yet cathartic answer. And given the right environment and timing, it can open the floodgates to thoughts and emotions expressed in raw vulnerability that lead to understanding, compassion, healing, and forward progress in our individual lives, as well as in our relationship.
You don’t want to ask it at date night in a loud, crowded restaurant. And you don’t want to ask it when both of you are in bed, exhausted after a very long workday in the middle of a stressful workweek. Rather, Rachel or I ask the question when we have the time and energy for a real, impactful conversation that we’ll both remember in detail.
Perhaps when we go for a long walk around the lake in our neighborhood around sunset.
Or when we are on the highway for an extended period of time.
Or when baby Maya takes a nap in the middle of the day, and we can retreat to our bedroom just to cuddle and catch up on each other.
Yes, absolutely, there are a million things we could be doing to get caught up on life when our baby goes down for a nap, but catching up on each other while we have the energy matters more.
Why is this question important to ask on a regular basis? Because the heart is the wellspring of life. Everything we do flows from it. I’ve written extensively on the state of your heart, if your heart feels safe, a broken heart, and a restless heart, because it affects so much. I also know from years of experience that how my heart is doing reveals how I am doing. It’s the same thing with Rachel’s heart. And with yours.
The heart is the innermost part of our being, the truest part of us – and the source of the attitudes we first feel, the thoughts we first think, and the behaviors we first want to act out (before they are affected or changed by social convention or social control). It’s often scary to deep-dive into our heart to discover what is dirty or dysfunctional or disguised, but it must be done for optimal health and wholeness. “How’s your heart?” helps facilitate the self-reflection we so need to continually do, but often don’t make time for.
It’s often scary to deep-dive into our heart to discover what is dirty or dysfunctional or disguised, but it must be done for optimal health and wholeness.
“How’s your heart?” is a profound and probing question that just leaves everything out on the table in a direct but caring way. Since Rachel processes and works through her personal struggles and issues out loud, it facilitates what is needed for her to achieve breakthroughs and come to terms with her troubles. As for me, I actually prefer to process my own problems in silence and solitude, and would much rather share my feelings with Rachel after I’ve solved the problem I’m facing, or found the solution I was looking for, or obtained victory in the battle I’m fighting. But she wants to – and needs to – hear my heartbeat while I am in the middle of the storm. Not after the storm passes.
I would much rather share my feelings after I’ve solved the problem I’m facing, or found the solution I was looking for, or obtained victory in the battle I’m fighting. But she wants to – and needs to – hear my heartbeat while I am in the middle of the storm. Not after the storm passes.
This might be obvious to you, but I personally never really understood why. As least for me, talking about a personal struggle with someone else doesn’t really solve that issue. I mean, I often say to myself, “it’s my own deal, I’ll figure it out, I’ve got this.” But I’m realizing that Rachel wants to hear about it not to help me solve it, but because she wants to share it with me.
She wants to experience it with me, alongside me, on a visceral level.
This is the point. This is fully knowing another person, and being fully known. This is the crown jewel of intimacy. It is what we’re looking for with another human being, the one with whom we want to do life together. And it is a precious, peerless gift.
Ask your significant other “How’s your heart?” and then tenderly wrap your hands around the feelings and struggles they entrust to you. And when they ask you the same question, don’t overthink it – just believe that they simply want to know you more, so they can love you more. And then share your heart.
Doing so will make your relationship stronger, deeper, and better for it.