Note: This article is for couples where the wife does not have significant sexual problems. If she stuggles sexually, especially if she has unresolved sexual abuse in her past, please see the non-sexual massage article.
For readability, most of the pronouns here are written for a husband massaging his wife. Where there are gender differences, they are noted. Otherwise, you can switch the pronouns for her massaging him.
Massage between a husband and wife is inherently sexual. How sexual it is varies depending on the mood, how tired the receiver is, and how long it has been since you last had sex. Because men are so visual, giving a full body massage will almost certainly result in some degree of arousal, and probably high arousal. Unless the massage so relaxes the receiver that s/he is more asleep than awake, there is a good chance a long massage will arouse both the giver and the receiver. Aside from the intimate, sensual, and sexual aspects, massage releases a great deal of oxytocin into the body. Both the one being massaged and the one doing the massage will experience an increase in oxytocin, and the intimate bond that oxytocin causes (more on oxytocin).
Either spouse can give a sexual massage, but I suggest you limit to one recipient each time. Focus on one spouse, to give them the greatest pleasure possible. Use this as foreplay, or with the intention of it having a “happy ending”. If the massage ends in climax, the recipient needs to be prepared to offer their spouse some sexual release if desired/needed. The longer the massage, the more sexual tension you build, and that means a better orgasm, so take your time! A half an hour of massage is a good goal.
The room needs to be comfortably warm for the recipient of the massage. This may make it a bit too warm for the one doing the massage, especially if he is doing her; this is a necessary sacrifice to doing it right. If sweating is an issue, have a hand towel handy to keep from dripping on her. The amount of clothing on the one giving the massage should be selected for maximum sexual titillation of the recipient. When she is doing the massaging naked, lingerie, or removing an item of clothing every few minutes will all work well. When he is doing the massage she may or may not want to see his erection bobbing about; go with naked, boxers, or skimpy bikini briefs (some women love that bulge) depending on her preference.
Lighting should be good, but not blinding, and be aware that the more he sees, the more aroused he will get. Candles are romantic and a nice touch especially when she is being massaged – just be sure they are not going to be knocked over or end up in contact with bedding! Soft music is good, with instrumental being less distracting. Adding a scent to the room is also a good plan. Scented candles work, as do room sprays or sheet sprays, but an oil warmer will give the best and most lasing results.
You want to use a good massage oil (see below). Keeping the oil warm is a nice touch any time, and necessary if the room is not very warm. Floating a plastic bottle of oil in very hot water will keep it warm. Always apply the oil to your hands, not directly to the skin; this is more sensual and will prevent discomfort if the oil is too hot or too cold. Getting a small amount of unscented oil in the vagina is not a problem for most women, but if is she is prone to yeast infections play it safe and don’t penetrate her with fingers that have oil on them. A wet washcloth with a bit of soap on one corner can be ready for a quick hand cleaning. Also, be aware that oil can interfere with condoms and spermicides. Unless a man has an allergy to something in the oil, contact with the penis is fine. If intercourse follows, wiping his penis with a towel will be enough unless she is sensitive or they are using condoms or spermicides. In this case, soap and water will be needed – which she can do for him with warm washcloths, as he lies there anticipating.
Start with a bath or shower – with you washing her slowly and gently. After you dry her, have her lay face down on a beach towel on the floor (better than the bed, you need a firm surface). Have a small pillow for her head, and another to put under her legs just above the feet – a hand towel over the pillows will protect them from the massage oil. Let her lie there and relax while you dry yourself and put on any clothing. Take your time; let her start to anticipate.
Before you start, make sure everything is ready and check to be sure she is comfortable. Adjust the temperature and her pillows as needed. Make her feel pampered.
You can talk or not as you massage, depending on what the recipient finds most enjoyable. Letting them focus on the massage in silence may be the best choice. Words of appreciation for a body part may be good, but they may also make them feel self-conscious. If you do speak, don’t say much – let her focus on your touch.
Start at her feet, and work your way up slowly! Feet can be ticklish, so be careful – firm pressure will reduce tickling. Work each toe separately, and give special attention to the insoles. If her feet are dry, work in extra oil to soften them.
Now move to her legs, but only below the knee at first. Your strokes should be towards the heart, or firm strokes moving towards her heart with a light touch on the return stroke. Work each leg individually. Let her guide you on how firmly to massage her. If her legs are sore, some firm massage will relax them, but will also hurt. A bit of discomfort at this point is okay if she wants the muscles worked.
Finish her lower legs with some moderately firm strokes, one hand on each leg, moving at the same time. Move past her knee to her upper legs and work them as you did her lower legs. Stop all strokes just short of her rear – you want to tease and build tension. When you have finished with the upper legs, do some stroking of the entire leg, from the ankles up, and drift just barely onto her rear.
The rear end is a sensual area, so give it some extra attention. This is the first overtly sexual part of the massage, so make it good. You can use your full hands and a good deal of pressure on her rear.
As you move up her back, avoid her spine by working either side of it. Let your fingers and hands follow the path of her muscles. Alternate working a muscle individually with both hands, and large strokes with the full hand. Do each side individually, and both sides together with mirrored strokes.
Learn where she carries tension, and pay special attention to those areas; the shoulders and neck are common tension spots. Again, let her be your guide on how firm to massage. You want to avoid causing too much discomfort at this point. If you find there is a place on her back or neck that always needs some work that hurts, get in the habit of doing that first, then moving to her feet and working your way up.
When you finish her back, give her a few strokes from the feet all the way to her head. Let her relax a moment then have her turn over. Adjust her pillows and make sure she is comfortable. Part her legs slightly, and put the second pillow under her knees. Again, take your time, let the anticipation grow.
The face is a sensuous area, especially for a woman, so spend plenty of time there. Use light fingertip massage tracing her features. She probably won’t want oil in her hair (it will wash out) so use a very light amount of oil. Her ears and the side of her neck are especially erotic, so don’t miss them.
Move from the side of her neck to her arms, with a passing brush of the top of her breasts. Work down each arm one at a time, and be sure to work each finger individually. When you move to her breasts don’t just grab; tease her. Move your whole hand over one breast gently, and then move around to the outside edge and around back to the top. Cup as you rub, with one or two hands depending on what best covers her. Alternate breasts, and occasionally do both breasts at the same time. Give some special attention to the nipples, but only after you have spent plenty of time on the rest of the breast. Don’t squeeze the nipple too firmly. Twisting or tugging may be pleasurable if done gently.
His chest is less delicate than hers is, and the muscles can be massaged firmly. Follow the muscles and work each side independently and both sides together. Don’t ignore his nipples – in some men, they are sensitive and playing with them is a big turn on.
Work on down now, but don’t be in a hurry to get between her legs. Move over and around her tummy, and then run your hands down the outside of her legs. Work the outside and top of the legs, towards the heart. When this is done, move your hands, one on each leg, down the outside of the legs, then move your hands to the inside of her legs and slide them up. Follow the line where leg and groin meet, just barely caressing the edge of her vulva (or his scrotum) as you go by. Do this a few times before you focus on the genitals. Go slow, tease; make her want it. You want her legs well parted now – lift and bend at the knee, then rotate the leg outward to give you good access. A pillow under each knee will make her more comfortable.
If there is any concern about the massage oil causing her a problem, have a washcloth ready to clean your hands and switch to a lubricant designed for sex. A silicone lube works very well here, especially if you are going to take your time. Even if she is wet from her natural lubrication, adding something will make it more sensual and will reduce the chances of her being sore later.
Suddenly touching her genitals tends to be jarring, and that is not what you want. Let your passing stroked move close and closer, gradually including first the outer, then the inner lips. Vary soft strokes with firm ones, and fingertips with the whole palm. Upward strokes are likely to be more stimulating, but be careful not to over stimulate.
If the plan is to end with intercourse, keep massaging her vulva until she asks (or begs) for that. If she just lies there and takes it until she has an orgasm, don’t complain, just hop on top of her when she is done.
If you are going to finish her by hand, don’t be in a hurry about it. You’ve built up a lot of sexual tension, and the longer you keep her that way the better it will be for her. Some women don’t like being teased too much, so if she asks you to finish her, maybe you should. On the other hand, some women enjoy being teased, and “finish me now” means “keep going, make it even better”. You will need to learn to read your wife.
Many women can take stronger stimulation when they are highly aroused than they normally can – and she should be highly aroused by now. This means you may be able to stimulate her clitoris more directly and more firmly than usual. If you can do this, it will be great for her, but increase stimulation gradually and look for any sign that it’s too much. Manually bringing her to orgasm will probably require good stimulation of the clitoris, but stimulating other parts of the vulva or vagina with the other hand will add to her pleasure.
If he’s not fully erect, slowly run a well-oiled fist up the shaft from the base until he is completely hard. Once he is fully erect you can squeeze his penis very firmly; don’t be shy, most men want much firmer touch than their wife tends to provide. Use a close fist, or the thumb and forefinger together to form a ring. Move up and down, and then move both hands down and off one after the other, over and over. Move the hands in a twisting motion back and forth around his penis. Use one hand to pull the skin towards his body (if he’s not circumcised this means fully retracting his foreskin) till the skin is taught – this feels good, and intensifies the sensation created by your other hand.
If the plan is to end with intercourse, be aware of how aroused he is, and how that will affect how long he will last. If you want to give him a treat, ask him to take you fast and hard, and then take care of you in some other way, or climb on top of him and finish his as fast as you can that way.
If you are going to finish him by hand, take your time. For men greater build-up means a significantly better orgasm, and most men are far more into being teased than most women. Learn to read his body so you know when he’s close, and stop short over and over. Learn to tell when his “demanding” you finish means you should, and when it means, “this is great, keep going”. After getting him very close a number of times, you can finish him by hand, or surprise him by climbing on top of him and finishing him that way. Until you get skilled at reading him you may have some “accidents” where he climaxes before you intended – be assured he won’t complain!
If the one doing the massaging is feeling at all aroused, their spouse needs to do something for them. This can be simple and quick (in keeping with the focus being on the one being massaged) or more elaborate, but it needs to be done.
This kind of massage is very intimate, and it generates a lot of oxytocin – the “bonding hormone”. Don’t let that go to waste, spend some time snuggling and talking.
A nice finish up is to take a hand towel and remove any excess oil from her skin. If you do this well she won’t need to shower before she gets into bed with you. If she feels she does need to shower, join her, and wash her again.
Always test any massage oil to make sure there is no allergic reaction – apply a small amount to a sensitive area like the inside of the upper arm or the side of a breast and wait a day. With plant oils, there will be no allergic reaction unless you or your spouse is allergic to the plant. If you are allergic to peanuts, don’t use peanut oil, etc.. Store bought massage oils are likely to have additives and preservatives, so they may be more prone to cause a reaction. It’s said sunflower oil is almost allergy proof, so try that if you are unsure, or have a problem.
Much of what you can buy premixed isn’t very good; so you might want to make your own. This will also give you a much less expensive product if you are going to use a lot of it. I like 40% walnut oil and 60% safflower oil as a base, but any edible oil will work. You could use straight cooking oil just fine, but a nice blend feels better for both giver and receiver, and the scent will be nicer. I’ve seen sweet almond, grape seed, sesame, soy, and sunflower oil mentioned by those who give massages. An almond and sesame mix seems to be popular with masseuses – it’s light, glides easy, and washed off easily. Play with the mix; some oils have more “drag” than others do, and that changes the massage. To thicken the mixture you can add vitamin E oil (it won’t take much), or olive oil (will take more than the E).
If you are going to be touching her genitals at all with the oil, you want to be careful about adding scents. Any kind of mint can produce a burning sensation if it’s too strong, so I’d avoid them unless you know you will not be hitting her most sensitive places.
For scented oil, add a small amount of essential oil, not extract. The essential oil goes a long way; you will use 1 to 3 parts essential oil to 100 parts of base. Peppermint, which has a cooling feeling and tends to make one more alert, is exceptionally strong, so use just 1% with peppermint. Sandalwood is great for calming someone, and can be mixed more strongly as it’s fairly subtle. Other good scents are lavender, neroli (from orange blossoms) and rose. Some drug stores and grocery stores carry essential oils, and you can find them in virtually any organic/natural food store such as Whole Foods ® or Trader Joe’s ®. Always test the mixed oil to make sure there is no allergic reaction. Store oil in the fridge, and float a small squeeze bottle of it in hot water to warm it for use.
pouring oil for massage © Rido / Adobe Stock