Backrubs are my love language. Flowers are nice. Letters are sweet. Help with the dishes is glorious. But the key to my heart? The secret to my swoon? A good old-fashioned shoulder rub from my hubby. Add a foot rub, and it’s an extra special night. If a little head massage comes into play? Melt!
Men, roll your eyes and groan if you must, but you have got to trust me on this one. Women, you know it’s true. A massage without expectations? Tenderness just because? Priceless.
Maybe it’s the comfort level. There’s no one who knows me as well as my man, and there’s nowhere as comfy as our own living room. Or maybe my aching body just needs the attention. After all, hundreds of research studies boast of the health benefits of massage. Or maybe, I just sort of like to be pampered.
Regardless of why, my hubby has faithfully met my massage needs. On special occasions, he even books professional massages for me. (Not for him, to be clear. He has no interest in the couple experience.) There’s nothing quite like disrobing in a small, dark room and lying mostly naked under a sheet as a stranger kneads muscles that have been sorely neglected.
There’s great potential for awkwardness, but awkward is a choice. What if this person is creepy or excessively chatty? What if I have to pee? In moments like these, we must simply choose to embrace the experience (figuratively, not literally, of course).
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
A standard massage is typically performed in a tranquil, private room on an extremely cozy bed with a padded donut hole for the face, making it possible to lie comfortably face-down. This alone is a treat. A quiet room where nobody needs me for 30 or 50 minutes is the bonus. It’s only natural for doubts to creep in as the oil is warmed and you stare down at the massage therapist’s shoes.
Alas, the worries of the world fade away with the dissolving of each kink and knot. Most massage therapists know how to move seamlessly from one muscle to the next and skillfully drape the sheets to make the experience as modest as possible. Except for that one unavoidable moment known as the flip over where one side of the sheet is held high and the massage therapist turns her head to allow for a graceful roll. In my case, it’s more like a clumsy, three-point turn in which I tangle myself in the blanket and acquire a rug burn on my knee.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE TRANQUIL
I’ve had some beautiful spa massages, like the one in a sunlit room overlooking a pristine white beach in Jacksonville, Florida or the one in Scottsdale, Arizona that was so relaxing I almost cried. Some people find massage so euphoric that they drool or even fall asleep. I’m usually too distracted by the various degrees of body contortion and trying to avoid any possible reflex kicking.
I’ve had a few less than cloud-nine experiences. Like the time I had a cold and my entire focus was preventing my nose from dripping onto her shoes. Or the time I mixed it up with a little Thai flavor. The incense and tinkling bells should have tipped me off. But nothing really could have prepared me for the assisted yoga poses and abrupt beating of the gong.
Without fail, even when the massage feels a bit bungled, I still float away with crazy hair, an indented face and a blissful smile. Nobody can argue that hot rocks and bamboo canes are the stuff that dreams are made of. But given a choice, I choose my hubby behind me on the couch any day.
Amy Brase is a writer who considers a good massage to be worth every penny.