One of the greatest things I cherish about my relationship with my wife is our commitment to complete honesty. Believe it or not, this is a characteristic that didn’t come instantly on day one of marriage. It’s one that’s been cultivated over the last 7 years. And I believe each and every day, it’s gotten better. But it’s only gotten better because Tracey & I have practiced. And as one person I heard revise the classic quote, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.”
One method in particular that’s really been helpful for us came from a counselor friend of ours (the same guy who initially helped me out of my sexual addiction). It’s called FANOS. It’s an acronym that stands for Feelings, Affirmation, Needs, Ownership, & Sobriety. In addition to our normal conversation each day, once a week we’ll have a more intentional check-in time with each other where we have a chance to go much deeper. Note: This is usually done when there is no kids around! 🙂 We each go back and forth sharing on each letter of the acronym. Let’s briefly break down each word:
- F – Feelings: How am I feeling this week? (emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally etc.) This is a huge one so don’t skim over it. Go deep here.
- A – Affirmation: What ways can I possibly encourage my wife this week? How can I speak to her as a wife, mother, daughter of God? Speak life to your wife.
- N – Needs: What needs do I have from her (again emotionally, physically, spiritually, sexually, etc.)? Again, this is an important one so don’t just think “more sex, please” on this one. Be real.
- O – Ownership: What can I take ownership of this week that I’m not doing so well in? Guys, we should have plenty to express here! As a husband, dad, worker, whatever, what are areas that you can grow in?
- S – Sobriety: How is my sobriety going this week? This question is typically only for you so be honest. If there were slips, confess them. If there was growth, share it. Don’t leave anything out on this one. Details are important.
I love this model for communication with my wife. We practiced it early on in my recovery journey and have just recently come back to it for a model of conversation. I pray that it’s helpful to you as well as you grow in oneness with the man or woman God has given you!