Advice Please - Spouse is MT

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Advice Please - Spouse is MT

Postby MommaBear1 on Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:44 pm

I am here looking for some advice. :smt010 :smt010 This is going to be a long post, please, please read it all. I am on the verge of a breakdown and really need some advice. Let me start by putting some background out there - I am a 32 yr old female, and am not a MT, nor am I aspiring to become one. I am the spouse. My husband is currently in school, learning to become a MT. He is 35 yrs old and his desire to become a MT is "new" in our marriage. We discussed it for several months before he enrolled in school. When we met, he was military. When we married, he was a photographer. I wanted to make that clear because I did not marry a MT, and there are some things that are really concerning/bothering me that will destroy my marriage if I do not come to terms with them. I am here to ask for advice and insight from professional MTs, to get some outside perspective.

My husband has become very close to the people he is in his classes with, which are primarily female because that is the nature of the profession. He explains that they give massages to each other all day and they become intimately close to each other because they have to be. The classes are very small, maybe 6 people per class, and the group becomes very close as they learn all of the muscle groups and techniques, etc., or at least that's how he explains it. I'm sure all of you know this and can remember when you were in classes and learning everything and how close everyone must have gotten.

Now before I got into the rest of the details, I want to put out there that I have been 100% supportive up until this point. I work full time and support our family (barely) while he attends school, so that he can chase his dream, and I support him emotionally as well. I have backed up all of his decisions up to this point.

There is one particular female in his classes, who is married too, who he started hanging out with after classes. This is where the issue began. She has children, as do we, and they started going on “play dates” with the children. It was okay until he invited her over to our home, without informing me, at a time when I was in school myself (in the evening). I was not comfortable with him spending time alone with another woman, in my home, without my knowledge or permission. This is where my apprehension began. For over a week, he wanted to spend time with her every day, asking for play dates. It bothered me because he has a history (he cheated on me just over 1 year ago and we had to endure counseling and go through a lot of effort to work through what happened).

This past week, he asked if he would have a spa night and invite over several people. He described “spa night” as foot massages, painting toe nails, some table massages, and just hanging out. I said sure. He invited several people from his classes, and I invited a few friends too. He had 3 people say they would come and another 2 people who were interested and gave a “maybe” to him. I helped him get set up and we put his massage table in the middle of the living room, because we don’t have much space, in a “social” area so that people could just hop on and off, no fuss etc., and do massages or get massages, since these are all MT students who were planning to come over.

Well, the only person who showed up was the girl I already mentioned. First he gave her a foot spa soak and foot massage, which was okay, but I went and grabbed my neighbor (a female who is also a good friend) because I felt a little bit uncomfortable being alone in the room when he was giving another woman a foot massage. It was just awkward for me. I stood in another room and talked with my friend about whatever to try to help with my awkwardness. Well, then my husband wanted to give this girl a massage. So he tells her to get comfortable and she stripped down, butt naked, in the middle of my living room, got on the table, and he proceeded to massage her. Nowhere in my mind did I imagine someone would de-robe in the middle of the living room because I thought several people would be there, and my impression of this spa night never included removing any clothing. That’s the point where it got bad. I was incredibly uncomfortable and had to walk through the living room, with my friend, to go outside because I could not be in the same vicinity as the massage which was occurring. The image of him with his hands on a naked woman is seared into my mind forever. It was a complete shock to my system. I’ve been super supportive up until now, and I think I have always thought of the massages as taking place in a proper massage setting, whether that is at a spa or a medical office or wherever, but behind closed doors.

After he massage her, she proceeded to stay, hanging out with him until about 1am. I had to go to bed when 11pm hit because I had to get up for work the next day, and she should have left. When I came downstairs to check around 1am, she was sitting between my husband’s legs. Incredibly inappropriate. I got really pissed and flew off the handle, having crossed my threshold for how much I could handle in one night, and my husband finally asked her to leave.

First, was it inappropriate for him to allow a classmate to disrobe in our living room? Have any of you ever offered a massage to someone in your home, had them disrobe completely, and then had your spouse witness it? What was the result? Could you work through it?

Second, it is “normal” to become intimately close to the people you are in school with when learning MT? I really need to know how much of this is “normal” and how much of what he is telling me is complete bull.

Third, how do you handle being a MT when it comes to your marriage? Do you lay out rules? Set boundaries? (like, for instance, you cannot massage people in our neighborhood, or in our home, etc., those kind of boundaries)

I am absolutely bewildered right now and on the edge of divorce. Prior to this week, our marriage was good, despite the things we’ve been through in the past, it’s been happy and wonderful and we have been working on adding to our family. After seeing what I saw, I feel like I have fallen off my rocker and don’t know how to deal with what I saw. I suppose I never thought I would actually witness my husband putting his hands on the naked body of another woman as a MT; I assumed it would always be behind closed doors, in an appropriate setting. Any and all advice is welcome. If I’m being unreasonable, please just tell me. Thanks!
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Re: Advice Please - Spouse is MT

Postby kathryn on Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:22 pm

Hi MommaBear, so sorry to hear about your marriage troubles. In massage school it is completely normal to work on people and even have them come to your home to work on for practice. Nudity is accepted on a personal basis, some people have no issue with it and think nothing of disrobing in front of people. In a healthy marriage the idea of one spouse being a massage therapist should never been an issue of any sort. I have a healthy marriage and my husband never questions me working on men, nor would he take issue if I had a workspace at home and had male clients over. This only happens when there are problems that have already been brewing under the surface or unhealthy distrust issues that need to be worked out.

It is a better idea to bring these issues with a marriage counselor. Although we are mt's, we aren't qualified to give adequate advice for your situation. I volunteer my time to answer questions posited by clients and mt's on another forum and every so often we get questions such as yours. The true answer is that there is something else going on in the marriage for the person to post their concerns and that is better handled by a professional, such as a marriage counselor who can meet with you both in person.

I would hate for someone here to give you well meaning advice that is inappropriate for your true situation and creates more harm than good possibly destroying a relationship that can be saved or that there may not even be anything wrong. Which is easy to do because:
a.This is only coming from your perspective, there are always 2 sides to every story and
b.There is always more to the story
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Re: Advice Please - Spouse is MT

Postby TouchofGrace on Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:59 pm

When I started massage school at 40, my husband was very uncomfortable with the idea. I went to night school and arrived home around 11:30pm due to distance. It helped that I was carpooling with 2 young women so he knew I wasn't on the road alone. However, I was very careful of what I shared with him about classes. Within 2 weeks, I was paired off with a guy in our class. Knowing that we were totally focused on 'learning' anatomy and skills...I was totally comfortable. I wouldn't have spent time with this guy alone though, not because of any feelings of attraction (that was nonexistent) but because I respected my husband's feelings. Not enough to quit school (as this was something I felt 'called' to do) but I didn't bring it home. I gave him time to slowly absorb the fact that I wasn't gaining a career to leave him. Also, to understand what massage really is and how therapeutic it is. He, now, refers his friends to me but it took about a year.

I do understand how you probably felt disrespected in your own home though. Maybe you could talk to him about that with a counselor as was suggested. Talking about it with an objective counselor really helps both parties keep their perspective. (((hugs))) just cuz....

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Re: Advice Please - Spouse is MT

Postby MommaBear1 on Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:05 pm

Thank you for both replies, I do appreciate it. Yes, I've asked for help from a counselor, three times now. We have a counselor that we've been to, so it's not hard just to pick up the phone and make an appointment. He continues to refuse my requests and insists that he can talk about his concerns without outside help. I think I will continue to ask for a counselor until he accepts that it's what I need, even if he feels he is okay without one.
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Re: Advice Please - Spouse is MT

Postby cabwy on Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:21 pm

I agree with Kathryn and would hesitate to give any advice without knowing the full story.
I feel so bad for you, it's terrible to worry and stress over such things.

I just asked my husband what helped him adjust to my becoming a massage therapist. His answer? "Your professionalism."

Good luck and God bless..
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Re: Advice Please - Spouse is MT

Postby pueppi on Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:25 am

I can say that being in the bodywork and related healthcare fields for about 20 years now, what I have found is that schools in the health professions have the effect on many students that they become "like family". That means what one sees as no big deal, really can be no big deal --- all the while, the better-half is wondering what in the world is going on (!?!).

Divorce rates are known to increase for those in med school, chiropractic college and massage school. But, I am sure they are known to increase for people in other professions as well. Communication is key. But then, communication is always key.

It is all about agreeing on what you, as a couple, are comfortable with. You are the ones who will be living together.

This link may be helpful, even though it is for "medical spouses". Dig around, maybe you'll find something that helps you out: The International Medical Spouse Network
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Re: Advice Please - Spouse is MT

Postby tranquilspirit2006 on Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:28 am

This is just my personal opinion, but given his history and what you have been through in the past year in your personal life, he should be doing everything he can to assure you you CAN trust him, whether he agrees with it or not, whether he thinks you're being reasonable or not. A year is not a long time to rebuild trust after an affair, and you won't be over it in that amount of time. He should not be spending time alone with this woman, having play dates without your knowledge, having another woman in your home while you are not there, and if you are not comfortable with her being there under any circumstances, he should respect that. This has nothing to do with massage and everything to do with his actions of a year ago.

Having done massage for 6 years, I'm pretty comfortable with the human body. But I would never spend time alone with a male classmate (or coworker), plan lunches or playdates or go over to his house without his wife being present. And that has nothing to do with massage and everything to do with the fact that I just wouldn't cross those lines and upset someone's spouse, my own included. While everyone's intentions may be totally honorable, he needs to understand where your are coming from and your own trust and boundary issues (and WHY you have those issues) and make sure that rebuilding your trust is most important to him. He needs to let you know you are his #1 priority right now.
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Re: Advice Please - Spouse is MT

Postby Snackdaddy on Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:14 pm

I'm male, 46yo, never married, no kids, LMT for 18 years.

You are right and not entirely right. It's okay for him to touch clients when appropriate. "Appropriate" here means, when it's expected and arranged. "Inappropriate" to me means, during some other unassociated time or event (such as rubbing someone's shoulders while socializing at a party or bar). As a corollary to this, it's not entirely shocking that this gal disrobed right on the spot without much thought. Some people just have not much modesty that way. Plus, she figured that this was a spa party, so that's what's happening. When he's at work, rarely (if ever) will any gal disrobe in front of him like that. But it's also very much ON HIM to be aware of even the appearance of impropriety. Especially in your house, and in your face!

Um.... 1am? Wife asleep in bed? Sitting in between his legs!? Those are bad decisions. And I say that not so much as an LMT as much as I say that as a single guy who has dated for 30 years. Not knowing his side of the story, I'm going to float the idea that it seems like he's got a bit of a crush on this gal. What is becoming of it is totally outside my guess. You are correct to voice your concerns to him. He needs to demonstrate that YOU are, in fact, the priority of his romantic interests. He needs to put distance between himself and her.

I've had crushes like this before with married women, and they seemed to have the same kind of crush on me right back. The biggest one was an LMT coworker gal, and sure enough we started exchanging massages at her house. THANK GOD she recognized the truths of that "distraction" before anything happened between us. She pulled back and regained her focus on putting that energy into her marriage. I'll never know just how I would've handled it had she and I ever started to do something "over the line."

So allow me to juxtapose my story onto your man. Maybe he has a mild case of the Hots for this gal. Maybe he's buzzing a little too close to her. Maybe she's eating up that attention with a spoon. Seems to me that if you can find the right words in the right tone at the right time, then you'd be well advised to express your worries and ask him to distance himself from this gal. The key here is...... the RIGHT words in the RIGHT TONE. That's always the trick.

Best of luck!

(and I say again, that I'm drawing big conclusions from limited info, which is always dangerous)
I'm Eric W., in AZ. "Snackdaddy" is too cryptic, but I don't know how to change it.
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Re: Advice Please - Spouse is MT

Postby JasonE on Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:50 pm

MommaBear1 wrote:Thank you for both replies, I do appreciate it. Yes, I've asked for help from a counselor, three times now. We have a counselor that we've been to, so it's not hard just to pick up the phone and make an appointment. He continues to refuse my requests and insists that he can talk about his concerns without outside help. I think I will continue to ask for a counselor until he accepts that it's what I need, even if he feels he is okay without one.

I also support seeing a counselor. It sounds like your husband doesn't understand your perspective, or perhaps sees it but is choosing to live in denial. In any case, you are clearly feeling very hurt by recent events, and I don't blame you. If this situation continues, it may drive a wedge between you, if it hasn't already.

Whatever is going on, the two of you are clearly NOT on the same page, and I don't see things getting much better until that changes.

You may need to take a stronger stance on the issue of seeing a counselor together. If he won't go with you, you may need to go alone, at first. The counselor may be able to help you get him to engage in the counseling process.

I am absolutely bewildered right now and on the edge of divorce. Prior to this week, our marriage was good, despite the things we’ve been through in the past, it’s been happy and wonderful and we have been working on adding to our family.

Until this issue (and any other related issues) are dealt with, I politely recommend that you NOT add to your family. Take whatever steps are necessary to avoid pregnancy until you no longer contemplating divorce. From what I have seen elsewhere, pregnancy and more children do NOT bring troubled couples closer together. :(
Jason Erickson, NCTMB, ACE-CPT, AIS-TA
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Re: Advice Please - Spouse is MT

Postby Levi on Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:43 pm

Hi Mommabear1
Right, by all means get some professional counseling. I am no professional relationship expert, but something sounds off. Decades ago my wife (now ex) went to massage school, and I recall no issues on my part about it. It turned out to be a life-long profession for her. When I started massage school last year, my current partner had no interest in it or desire to even receive massage to help with my practicum. In fact she thinks its sort of a nonsense line of work. So I have kept things very separate from her and met for all massage study and work outside of our home so as not to annoy her.

She seems to care less that I have done hands -on massage on all manner off people in varying stages of dress/undress. Males and females. Even small animals. She does not ask me much about it, but sometimes I can't help talking about stuff that I find interesting; "I massaged a single amputee today, and he had phantom limb pain" or some such topic. I have been very lucky to not have much of an issue with my possible attraction to other students or clients, although to be honest it did concern me for a while that it might come up with certain attractive females that I have worked on. It seems that I can very effectively shut that part of me down and focus on the massage problems at hand. I have decided If I ever do have an attraction issue with some individual, I will not work with her/him a second time.

Even with my massage tight ethics and boundaries, I know that problems can come up with accusations from females with molest backgrounds or other personality issues. I want to be clear in my own mind that if that happens to me, I have taken every measure to be a massage professional. Without pure thoughts and professionalism, I believe that male massage practitioners will not be able to do a good job with the massage trade. So, if your suspicions and concerns are on target, then your husband stands to lose both his marriage and his massage career eventually. Sounds to me like he is in great need of an experienced male massage mentor so that he can get pointed in the right direction with his massage studies and activities. Good luck!
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