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.
Over time, Mark and Debbie Laaser 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.
Feelings – 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.
Affirmations – 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.
Needs – 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."
Ownership – 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."
Sobriety 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.