After the honeymoon phase is over, couples often retreat into patterns that create distance and disconnection. And that's not what you had in mind when you took your wedding vows. It's easy to lose the spark and excitement you once had and yearn for a deeper, more passionate connection with your partner.
The magic that happens through touch helps you and your partner to connect on a deeper level. Couples massage matters—a lot—because touch is vital to life. There aren't enough things we do in life that feel good and are also good for us. But this is one of them.
A massage can reduce stress, relieve respiratory issues, and help the body relax. Got a headache? Forty-five million Americans suffer from chronic headaches and migraines. Massage helps ease the pressure and pain, which can also reduce the frequency of headaches. Want to fight colds? A massage can strengthen your immune system.
You're probably thinking, "But I'm not a trained massage therapist. How am I actually supposed to give my partner a good massage when I don't have the experience or the equipment?"
Intimacy-boosting rituals are vital to your relationship. Life and all its obligations often get in the way of your relationship. But there are ways to make the most of the time you do have together. And that's how you reconnect, even when life feels totally overwhelming.
As a licensed massage therapist, I have spent the last 15 years helping countless couples learn to harness the healing power of touch through massage.
Here's how you can get started:
1. Prepare your body.
Take a soak or a shower and get squeaky clean. Take care of any stubble/shaving/waxing the day before. File your fingernails so you don't scratch your partner. Do some light stretching to warm up your body, and meditate for 10 minutes beforehand so you are fully present.
2. Set the scene.
Choose a clean, quiet room so you have space to move around and you won't be disturbed. Set the mood with candles or dim lighting,and close the drapes. For your massage you'll need a firm, strong surface that will support you and your partner. Gather a futon mattress pad or fold a comforter in half and set it up with pillows and a carpeted floor. Lastly, grab some sheets or towels you aren't too attached to since you'll be working with oil.
3. Get your tools.
Choose your massage oil. A massage becomes much easier with oil that helps the hands glide, nourishes the skin, and arouses the senses. Ready-made massage oils can be purchased at health food stores, or you can get inventive. Look around your kitchen for oils such as coconut, sunflower, peanut, or safflower oils, all of which are excellent for massage and are called "carrier oils." Add some scent in the form of aromatherapy. Play some romantic music—you could even create a playlist of your own favorite love songs. If you find that you really like giving and receiving massages, you may want to go all out and invest in a professional massage table.
4. Start where you are.
You don't need to have all the massage tools in your toolbox when you first start. You just need the basics. I recommend two basic Swedish massage strokes—"effleurage" and "petrissage." Effleurage is a long, gliding stroke that soothes the muscles and relaxes the body while also increasing circulation. You can use it on most parts of the body, but it is particularly effective on the back, chest, arms, and legs. Petrissage is a kneading stroke. It feels great on the shoulders, thighs, and buttocks, where you can easily lift and gently squeeze or roll the muscles like kneading dough.
Unplug or turn off the TV, power off or mute your phone, and hang a "Do not disturb" sign on your door so you won't be interrupted by outside noise or kids. If you do have kids, consider making arrangements for a sitter. Use the restroom beforehand so you don't have to break the massage sequence.
6. Go the extra mile.
Chill the Champagne, wine, or sparkling nonalcoholic beverage if you're planning to toast your love after the massage. Have a bottle of water handy in case you get thirsty during the massage. Prepare some healthy snacks on a tray to enjoy together afterward. Note: Wait two to three hours after you've had a meal before your massage. It's best not to lie on your stomach if you're feeling full.
7. Dress accordingly.
If you're receiving the massage, remove your jewelry, tie up your hair, and put on your robe and slippers. If you're giving the massage, wear loose-fitting clothing so you can move around easily.
Decide who's going to receive the massage first (you may have to flip a coin), and set an intention for your time together. Are you looking to rekindle a long-term relationship? Are you sore from the gym, or just plain exhausted?
Be prepared to discuss tight, sore areas that need extra TLC and which areas to avoid if you're ticklish. If your partner is drifting away at the end of the massage, let him roll into bed. He will wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to reciprocate; trust me.
Touch is vital to life. Babies don't thrive without it. I don't think adults do either. Reserve time in your relationship to touch intentionally—even if it's just for 10 minutes. Most of us are so busy and touch-deprived that we often forget how healing this can be. Stress happens. But at home, we have the power to deal with it however we want. Create a sacred space of peace, connection, and healing. Honor your time now and celebrate your relationship while you discover the language of touch.