The following was written by Carrian Cheney, who runs the popular cooking blog and brand "Oh, Sweet Basil" with her husband Cade.
A few years ago, we posted an amazing Reese's peanut butter marshmallow cookie pie recipe on our blog. In the post, I talked about three questions that changed our marriage. Well, the recipe did awesome (hooray for you all loving that combo as much as us), but the part that totally shocked us was that—in our getting personal—we got gobs of emails about how couples, families. and even singles were adopting these questions into their personal lives and their relationships were being strengthened.
I. Love. That.
Whenever Cade gets home from work, I’ve found myself in the habit of asking, “How was your day?” to which he replies, “Good. How was yours?” or “Pretty good. How about you?” or there’s always, “Meh, kinda long.”
Well, that was a lame-o exchange. Why do we even ask each other just the same ol’ thing? I started to feel like it was a little silly, and then I noticed that my daughter and I do it after school too! Where’s the love? Where’s the real conversation and sharing?!
So, I decided to try an experiment. And then I forgot. Because that’s what happens to moms sometimes. We get a really good idea, generally in the shower because that’s where the best thinking happens, and then we get out and forget it.
But two weeks later I finally remembered and put the idea into action. Within one week, we were having the best week ever and this experiment has totally changed our marriage and family.
I started asking my husband and children three questions every day and it has changed our lives. Remember, these things are going to take time for your family to adjust to, but it will happen!
1. What do you have going on today and how can I help?
My husband and I always talk about the week and what’s coming up and we do this with our kids too, but as the week goes on we forget things or new things come up.
By asking this question daily, we all know exactly what kind of load everyone is carrying and what to expect from everyone. It also gives us more opportunities to serve each other. If the family knows Cade has an important meeting and I have a few recipes to photograph, it’s amazing how quickly they take charge of other things to help out. Plus, we can be mindful of each other. A child may be acting out after school, but when we realize it’s probably because she had that big test and is just worn out, it’s much easier to handle the situation.
2. When did you feel worried, stressed, or scared today?
I clued in pretty quickly in my marriage that my husband is willing to carry the world on his shoulders and not burden anyone, aka ask for help or talk about it. He doesn’t mean to; he’s just always done his own thing and carried his own feelings so that no one has to know they are hurting him or stressing him out.
My daughter, on the other hand, needs to talk things out and be heard. What Cade didn’t realize was that he needed to as well. So when things weren’t going well, I started asking the above question, and it’s interesting how most days involve a moment of stress or worry and that acknowledging it and letting someone else listen really lifts the load. It opens up communication and bonding. Now, we ask every day and we try to be very honest.
3. When did you feel loved today?
This one can be awkward! I know it totally shouldn’t, but go ahead and ask and the response from your spouse may be a little goofy or passive, “Uh, when you kissed me?” Don’t worry. Keep asking and give it time.
Everyone needs to feel loved, and if they aren’t they need someone to step up and do the job. Here’s the perfect example. Cade was a bit grouchy the other night—kind of snippety with the kids and impatient. I could have snapped back. But instead, when he went upstairs to change, I followed, slipped in front of him while he was picking out a shirt, and asked, looking him in the eyes with my arms around him, “When did you feel loved today?” He immediately said, “Right now. I’ve just been so stressed about such and such and it’s been a long day. ” The rest of the evening was so peaceful, fun, and we all felt a little more love for one another.
Often we can take out underlying issues on others around us, almost always those we love most and wouldn’t want to hurt if we were really thinking through things. Why do we sometimes treat friends better than our spouse? Why do we treat strangers better than our spouse? I believe it’s because we stop asking the real questions and don’t wait to hear the answers.
These three little questions have strengthened our family and marriage. They are so simple but they make a world of a difference. Sometimes, we just need our spouse to see us again.
One of the few husband and wife teams in the cooking world, Cade and Carrian Cheney combine their love of fresh foods with southern cooking to create unique twists on classic recipes. But Cade and Carrian's focus on family, traditions, and food has made "Oh Sweet Basil" into a popular brand with nearly 200,000 Pinterest followers and 50,000 Instagram followers. Check out more of their traditions and delicious recipes in their new cookbook, Our Sweet Basil Kitchen, or follow them on Twitter,Instagram, or Pinterest.