During my professor days, I would occasionally take a bunch of colored pencils, crayons, markers, and blank paper into the classroom and place them in the center of the room.
“Create a visual representation of . . . .“ The subject would vary, depending on what we were discussing. It always took students a while to get going, but the results were enlightening, showing them patterns they hadn’t seen before and highlighting details and focusing their attention.
In essence, my students were creating maps of one particular aspect of their lives. The purpose of this activity wasn’t to produce a beautiful map; in fact, the maps could get downright messy at times. The purpose was to go through the process of thinking about something in a focused way. The map then became a tool to aid their further thinking and exploration.
In a recent post, I encouraged you to think about the reasons you give your refusal not as justifications but as places to start digging and thinking about your refusal.
So how do you start digging?
I’m going to suggest that you begin by making a map. Create a visual representation of your marriage, or of some aspect of your marriage. It can be a symbol, a bunch of symbols, a diagram, a flow chart, a timeline, or a picture.
Get out your colored pencils, crayons, or markers, and set the timer for fifteen minutes. See what you come up with, even if your artistic ability is pretty much like mine (in other words, completely lacking). Consider your physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy.
Here’s mine, made with a regular pencil in about five minutes. This just shows some major points along the way in our marriage.
Now what? Look over your map to see if anything stands out. For instance, I see three things that I think were pretty significant in the journey of our marriage.
- Our problems began when I let the kids come between my husband and me.
- Rather than really try to heal our hurts, we just stuck bandaids on them.
- The best times in our marriage have been when we’re closer to Christ and more involved with church.
Here is an intimacy map that reflects how I see the progression of intimacy in our marriage as I can see it now:
Four years ago, it would have included more hurting hearts and tears. Now, I can see that at the beginning we were just doing basic stuff in terms in sexual intimacy and other kinds of intimacy as well. This is represented by the picture of stick figures in missionary position, not even truly touching. At the bottom, you see a couple joined together, jumping on the bed. (This represents the fun that sex can be. Plus, I didn’t know how to draw a picture of a chandelier. I tried, and the erasure marks are still visible in the picture.)
What do you see in your marriage map? Do you see any patterns? Is there anything that seems unresolved or that makes you especially sad to see? Are there significant moments that stand out for you?
If this feels a little like homework, that’s okay. The whole point is to help you learn something about how you see intimacy in you marriage. Maybe you won’t see any surprises, or maybe you’ll be able to see something for the first time. You get extra points if you share you map with your husband or ask him to make a marriage map as well.
If you’re feeling brave, send me a copy of what you come up with (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me what you see in your map. I’ll share them here (without names, unless you request that I use them).
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net