One of the most profound ways we communicate is through touch. But how often are we touching our partners non-sexually? Do you often ask for a massage and get denied?
We tend to be less tolerant and more critical with our romantic partners than we are with others. We are usually better listeners and more accommodating to people who we barely know. But it’s the people closest to home that we should be really making an effort to communicate compassionately with.
1. Critical Feedback. We really are the pickiest with our partners; with the way they do everything! It’s usually a process of dissecting how they’re doing something wrong and telling them about it. When we’re critical though (without flipping that around) we don’t create an environment where our partners want to massage us.
2. Reciprocation. How often do you exchange a massage? Or do you usually just ask for one? We each need to give and receive in order for it to be something deeply enjoyable for both parties (and it helps both of you to know what feels good, and what doesn’t).
3. Timing. The time of day when you ask is everything. It’s probably not a great idea to ask at 10pm, right before you hit the hay. You’ll have greater success asking in the morning to plan for 10pm that night. Springing a request on someone has a hit-or-miss success rate, whereas planning for a 10pm massage early in the day allows your partner to prepare mentally for taking care of you.
So, how do we turn that “no” into a much more consistent “yes, of course, I will massage you honey!”? Stick with these guidelines:
1. Pretend you’re actually getting a massage from a professional. How often do you put up with things that feel ‘okay’ when you go for a massage without speaking up about it? View yourself as the client and your feedback and critique will be very different. You’ll be less picky and less vocal and that will be good for your partner’s confidence and willingness to massage you.
2. Know that it can be a long process. Ideally, we’re setting ourselves up for a weekly massage (or more) so it’s important to deliver those key bits of feedback over time. You don’t need to give them a list of everything they did wrong after the first time. And in fact it’s probably best to flip it around into something positive (see the next tip).
3. More of the good stuff. Instead of discouraging what you don’t want, ask for more of what you do want – more positively worded feedback means that your partner will feel better about what they’re doing. Instead of saying, “Don’t press there, it hurts”, say, “Could you press a little to the right/left – I think that’ll be the perfect spot!”
4. Be ready and willing to massage them in return. It doesn’t have to be the same night, but an exchange creates a more sustainable scenario, where both of you benefit immensely. You could even be super organized and have a set day and time each week where you give a massage.
5. Plan. Springing the question is never a great way to approach it. Put it in the calendar as a date-night or at least ask your partner in the morning if they’d be willing to give you a massage tonight at ____pm.
Planning to take good care of one another not only decreases stress and discomfort in your body but it also deepens the relationship exponentially. There’s something profoundly nourishing about massaging your partner and being massaged by your partner regularly.
With these strategies, you’ll turn the whole experience from one that your partner hates, to one that is far more enjoyable.
Drew Hume is a Toronto-based Thai massage practitioner and instructor. His mission is to bring people together in community through compassionate touch. He invites you to participate in his free Health & Happiness Through Thai Massage Webinar to find out how to integrate it (and touch) into your life in a way even your partner will love.