A therapist once gave my husband and I a surprising tool that proved useful: a question.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “Sit face-to-face and ask each another this simple question: ‘What do you need from me?’”

She said that each partner should listen and perhaps ask clarifying questions, but it was mostly a time to share a personal need without fear.

It could be something like, “I’d love your help with the dishes tonight,” or a bit deeper, like, “I need to be better seen and heard by you.”

It’s possible that the other person can’t fill the needs we have (in fact, many of our needs can’t be met by someone else). But to have a few minutes at the end of the day when, together, we would talk about both simple and complex daily needs came to be valuable.

“What do you need from me?”

This question requires quiet. It means listening well. It requires humility, and a giving up of our too-often self-serving notions. But those things are good to revisit if we’ve gotten rusty.

The other night, I texted this question to my husband on his way home from work.

“Actually, could you just give me a neck rub when I get home?” he answered.

And I did. I would have never known had I not asked.

Try it tonight. Ask, “what do you need from me?” and see what happens.