How’s it going? No really…

MJ 4My good friend John and I can talk for hours about life.  A few beers, a campfire, and we are off trying to solve the world’s problems. Rarely successful. However, a few weeks ago, John told me how modifying just one question deepened his relationship with his wife, Morgan, and how he planned on asking the same question to his children.  I asked him to write about it.  John took time out of his busy schedule to share.  Enjoy.  

How many times in your life has someone asked “how are you”?  Tens of thousands?  This seemingly benign question has become a default mantra, most often traded amongst strangers and used as a buffer to avoid real conversation and personal exposure.  It’s not a particularly negative or atypical phenomenon but it can be, when we carry this mantra over into our personal lives and amongst the people we deeply care about.

I have a wonderful wife.  We deeply understand each other and we really have a lot of fun together, which I think of as a rarity amongst people that have lived together for a long time.


MJ 2
John and Morgan – Halloween 2012

How are you?  

As our relationship developed and we both let our guards down, I found her getting blue every now and then, like most of us do.  Caring about her as I do, I’d always diligently ask “How are you?” or “What’s wrong?”  It was a cookie cutter approach and she would often answer that she was fine or that she was just blue.  Wanting to know what was bothering her and to make her feel better, I’d press and press until my good-hearted efforts wound up upsetting her.

Plainly, something was bothering her but she didn’t feel like talking about it.  I tried giving her space, gentle pressure but nothing seemed to help.  One day she was feeling especially down. I didn’t know what else to do, it was affecting the both of us deeply; without thinking, out of sheer desperation and care, I walked up behind where she was sitting and wrapped my arms around her. I placed my hand on her upper chest and simply asked,

“How’s your heart?” 

It was as if I had just spoken the magic word; she was immediately able to open up and share what had been weighing heavy on her. I listened.  I could tell she felt better, that the heaviness had been lifted.  She smiled at me.

MJ 5

Why is this question effective?  

It took using this question for some time before I realized, at least partially, why it’s effective.  The question is not a normal question, it’s a serious one and clearly motivated by a deep love and concern for someone…my wife.  I try not to wear the question out. I don’t use it in an everyday sort of category or situation. Because of that, it continues to be something we share and will continue to share.  I know that when we have kids, as we tuck each one of them in for the night and hold them close, this is the question we will ask them before we say goodnight.    To be raised knowing that your internal self and emotional self are acknowledged, loved, and held sacred will help them to grow into healthy adults that are capable of loving and being loved.  I’m glad my wife was a challenge.



2 thoughts on “How’s it going? No really…

  1. Pingback: The effects of community deprivation - LIVING LIFE UPSIDE DOWN

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s