|from where else? Bing|
Today is about a great tool I'd like to share for couples struggling with sex addiction.
Couples in recovery need to stay connected emotionally, and addicts' spouses need to get consistent updates about sobriety. It is the key to keeping us sane. Most couples find that in the busyness of a typical week, this connection gets easily lost.
have developed an acronym for couples to use as a guide for regular "check in" conversations. These conversations can be long or short, it's up to you. Devin and I tend to keep our conversations anywhere from fifteen minutes to thirty minutes long. Mr. and Mrs. Laaser use the acronym FANOS - from the Greek word phainos which means "to bring to light" - to guide the conversation:
FANOS is a safe place for open, honest discussion with no yelling or judgment.
eelings – describe what / how you're feeling
Each person take turns describing their feelings for the day. Sometimes it's brief, sometimes it's more in depth depending upon our day. The spouse goes over any triggers, anger or disappointments felt throughout the day. The SA talks about stresses s/he felt, anger, disappointments, anything that can lead them to trigger. It's also a time to share happiness and success
ffirmations – find one or two things you want to affirm (they should be about your spouse)
We find different things to affirm in each other i.e.: our love, our faith in the other's recovery, patience, open and honest communication etc.
eeds – something you need today
We take turns sharing one or two needs. Usually one will be for ourselves and one will be from the other. i.e. "I need you to know it's safe for you to talk to me," and "I need to dedicate more time to either my step work or reading."
wnership – something you’ve done or said that you take responsibility / apologize for
An opportunity to say, "I'm sorry, this is what I did today." or "I'm sorry, this is what I said today."
obriety or Self-Care
The sex addict will report on their sobriety. The spouse will report on the status of their self care (or sobriety if appropriate). You may do sobriety if you're working a 12-step recovery and have a sobriety date for stopping codependent, hyper vigilant or etc.
It's important to remember that this is a safe place where there is no judgment. When a slip is disclosed by the SA or spouse there should be no yelling. Try to be as understanding as possible.
For those in reconciliation with a recovering sex addict try using this acronym as a guide for a conversation with your spouse every day or every few days. You will be amazed at the sense of ongoing intimacy you experience.
We used FANOS, created by Debbie Laaser from Faithful and True for a long time. As our needs changed, so did our check-in conversations. Now if we need them, we use my updated communication tool (with a grateful nod to Mrs. Laaser): I call it GRACE since these talks were my saving grace during that difficult time.
G R A C E
Gratitude: I'm all about having an attitude of gratitude. Start off on a positive note and talk about the things that you’re each grateful for that day or that week. It can be something your partner did or said. Or if you’re not in that place at that moment, try to find something else you’re grateful for. Perhaps it’s because you’re having a check-in conversation or you have food on your plates and a roof over your heads. Maybe you’re grateful because you’re healthy, or the sky is so blue today. Maybe you’re grateful the car started or saw a duckling crossing the road. Anything you can find, no matter how minute, that you can appreciate. Sometimes having an attitude of gratitude can set the tone for a really good conversation.
Requests: Are there any requests or desires you’d like your partner to be aware of? Now is a great time to share those requests with your partner. For instance, if you’d like them to call or text you if they're going to be late, or if you’d like to know if they have a sponsor or accountability partner, or maybe you’d like to request a period of abstinence from sex, or you crave thirty minutes of alone time a few days a week so you can spend time working on yourself, this is the perfect place to share those desires.
In turn, they can make requests of you. I feel it’s important to remember to be empathetic at this time. I understand how difficult that can be, especially if there has been a recent slip or if you’re still grappling with emotional struggles that come with a disclosure. I admit I was not the best role model for this in the beginning and at times, I struggled to keep my ego in check and had to remind myself that Devin deserves my respect and his addiction does not define him. He has a voice just as much as I do. If I feel the request is leaning towards serving his addiction, well then, I have the right to use that voice and vocalize my concerns being careful not to use that snark that creeps in from time to time.
Acknowledge: This is a chance to acknowledge what you’ve just heard from your partner and make sure you understood their request. It’s okay if you struggle in this department. Goodness knows I did. I discuss this in detail later in the book.
Care: How are you caring for yourselves? Is either of you in a twelve-step program or a face-to-face meeting? Maybe a support group or meeting with a trusted religious leader? If so, now is a great time to talk about the things that resonated with you in your meetings and/or group. Perhaps you’ve decided to start journaling or doing artwork to help alleviate your anxiety, go ahead and take this opportunity to share this with your partner.
It’s also a great time to open up and discuss sobriety. If you’re in a twelve-step program or are trying to do a better job at not being hypervigilant or controlling, let your partner know your progress and they can let you know how they are doing in their recovery. It’s important to note that some partners want to know the nitty-gritty details of their loved one’s recovery including the setbacks. I used to be that person. I felt I needed the what, where, when, etc. I eventually figured out that for me, it wasn’t beneficial for my recovery or my healing. It didn’t promote our growth as a couple either. Now, I only need the bare minimums. That’s what works for me. Some people prefer not to know anything at all and have their partners tell their sponsors or accountability partner. It’s whatever works for you and your relationship. There is no right or wrong way; it’s your way. It’s what your emotions can handle.
Emotions: Now that you’ve discussed your requests and care, this is the perfect time to talk about your emotions. If need be, take a few of those calming breaths we talked about. How do you both feel about what you discussed? Do your best to avoid being like me and answering with the standard, “I’m fine,” because life is just so much easier when we say that, isn’t it? Allow yourself to truly feel your emotions and then share them, gently, honestly, and calmly with your partner. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
Try to finish on a positive note. Let your partner know how much you appreciate their time and their ability to be vulnerable with you, even if it's little stuff, it's something and that's much better than nothing.