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The other side of the table

The person makes a small gasp, and then, in an envious voice, tells me how lucky I am. Lucky, I say.
Oh yes! It must be wonderful to get a massage everyday! A massage everyday: yes, that would be wonderful.


September 15, 2009
By Anne E. Wilson

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When people ask me what my partner does for a living I always cringe a little inside. When I tell them that my partner is a massage therapist I always get the same kind of response …

The person makes a small gasp, and then, in an envious voice, tells me how lucky I am. Lucky, I say.
Oh yes! It must be wonderful to get a massage everyday! A massage everyday: yes, that would be wonderful.

To be truthful, there was a time when I did get a massage everyday. When my spouse was attending
massage therapy school I would hear words like Hon, can I practise a TMJ treatment on you? Or, even worse, I would hear Sweetie, if you’ve got a minute, I’d like to try to palpate your spine through your abdomen.

Even better were the days when my partner and a classmate would practise assessment techniques on me, frequently forgetting that I was a human person and not a skeleton. Oh yes, it was wonderful indeed.

Now there were a few techniques (like effleurage, petrissage, rhythmic mobilization and joint play) that it delighted me to assist my spouse in learning. But once he got good at these techniques he would begin to practise his ability to work ‘deeper.’ When he started to learn skin rolling that was the beginning of the end.

If my relationship with my partner was to survive then my relationship to him as a client/victim was over.
All that stuff about ethics and dual relationships that he had been nattering about after ethics classes started to make sense to me.

There are times, however, when like any married person, I would really like a massage from my partner. There are even times when my partner would like a massage from me; even though I am incompetent and disinclined. Massage is a kind of bonding that overworked couples in our hardworking world use to keep in touch. When massage is a way to communicate love and togetherness it is no longer therapy – and no longer requires any skill whatsoever.

This is sort of unfair to the massage therapist half of the couple who both gets a crummy massage and gives an excellent one.

I know that the last thing that I want to do when I get home from work is to put in another hour of what I’ve been doing all day.

My partner doesn’t need to hear me caging for a massage (Oh Sweet Pea, I had such a hard day and my neck and shoulders are so sore …) when he gets home. I now go to a massage therapist outside the home for regular therapeutic massages.

Just as the cobbler’s wife buys the children’s shoes from Kiddy Cobbler, the massage therapist’s spouse needs to take those stiff and achy muscles to someone else. 

There are times when it is an asset to have a massage therapist in the family. Massage therapists are handy to have around when the kids sprain an ankle. They always know whether to apply hot or cold. They own interesting gadgets (wax baths, thumpers, hydro collators, search and stims …) that any amateur can try to use. They have strong hands and can easily remove the lids from jars or pull up dandelions in the lawn.

The work they do not only relieves the stress of others but often relieves the stress that most of us develop at work; they are often relaxed and happy people. As small business owners many have the ability to select a work schedule that meshes well with family life. As a profession, massage therapy attracts people who are caring and health-giving.

So, when someone says Oh, it must be wonderful to be married to a massage therapist, I ignore the obviously incorrect assumption that I get a massage daily and say Yes, it is.


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