Location: Melbourne, Australia
Years Married: 6
Website: Melt - Massage for Couples
Q. How did you two meet?
E: We met about ten years ago, at a work function. A mutual contact introduced us, and I still remember her saying, “Oh, you need to meet Denis.” I turned around, and he was right there on my left. I still remember that exact moment.
D: I don’t remember that. I was running a hotel massage business at the time, and we met at an event at the hotel. I was doing business with a ski resort, and Emma was doing work with the ski resort as well.
E: We would have all these business meetings, and we just sort of hit it off, and then we started hanging out as friends.
D: It was all very, very flirtatious.
E: We started flirting, obviously. We had a really good friendship first, before anything happened.
D: I couldn’t get her to come inside and have coffee, after our dates. She would never want to come upstairs to my place. So, I created Melt, and one day I gave Emma a call. I told her, “Listen, I’ve written this course for couples, and it is a little bit sexy, right. I want you to come up to my place...can I test it on you?” And she said, “Yeah, that would be great.” And she came up and that was it. After that night, we started dating.
E: I fell in love with his hands. I just wrote a surprise love letter to Den, and it was just published on Elephant Journal.
D: It was very beautiful.
Q. You two are very busy, and you work together all the time, how do you find a balance between hobbies/interests alone and together?
E: We spend so much time together, working together, in fact, we’re just wrapping up three months on the road, traveling through California and working. So we go on walks together, we do date night, things like that.
D: We are also very conscious of having our own time, as well. So, usually when weekends come around we try and socialize separately a bit. That happens a fair bit, because we spend a LOT of time together. Where the average couple will see each other in the morning and at night, we’re together all day.
E: We saw a statistic once, that couples who live and work together spend three times as much time together as the average couple. So we like to joke that we’ve been together thirty years, instead of just ten!
D: For us, we have found it healthy to find our own separate hobbies and our own close friends. Some of my friends will often ask, “Does Emma not like us?”
E: No, I’m just at home, getting some alone time!
D: I’m respond by saying, “No, no, no, this is my time, without her. This is my time, with my good friends.” But also, I have a few hobbies. I like to do Ju Jitsu...I probably go to Ju Jitsu every day, when I’m Melbourne. I also go to the gym every day. My best friend lives three minutes down the road from me, so I get together with him,and we can just talk about business and work out. And I play a bit of drums, too.
E: I mostly do yoga and hangout with friends. Melbourne has a great cafe culture, so I go check out new coffee places, restaurants, and bars, and that is pretty much what I do in my spare time.
E: We also believe in date night. We actually had a business for years called “Thirty Dollar Date Night,” which was date ideas for couples, for under thirty bucks. Our date nights are all about cheap, obviously, for under thirty bucks, which just makes you more creative. We also encourage couples to do something different every time. We like to go have fun, to be a little bit silly...we have tried laughing yoga classes, ice skating, picnics on the laundry room floor, and glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, etc.
Q. What did you learn from your dating website? What are some of the high level messages that you would share with couples about the importance of date night?
E: Often, couples face the barrier of date night being too expensive. That is why we came up with the thirty dollars - to prove to everyone that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have an amazing date night. And there were so many date ideas that we had on that site that were free, or that you could do at home, so you didn’t need a babysitter at all. So, the first thing is that you can have a wonderful date for cheap. The second thing to remember is that you should always be doing something different, because novelty sparks the same brain chemistries as when you first fell in love. So, doing new things together will actually spike your dopamine levels (check out this article from the NY Times) and give you the butterflies back in your tummy, and it is really, really, good for your relationship.
D: What we found, was that whenever we stepped out of our comfort zone for date night, those activities were what we would be telling our friends about for weeks. We also like to surprise each other, when it comes to date night.
E: We’ll take turns planning date night, and it’s fun to plan something for your partner. They feel special because you’ve gone to the effort to plan something for them, or to make a reservation, or to get some tickets, etc.
D: So, we did this laughing yoga thing, and it was free, and only took about an hour of our time. It was in the middle of our city square, and there were hundreds of people everywhere. We were with a group of people that we don’t even know, and the idea was that forced laughter would negate real laughter. It worked.
D: One great idea is, “The Alphabet,” of date ideas, it takes awhile to get through - you have to do a date night that starts with a letter of the alphabet, and you just go through the whole alphabet. One thing we noticed was that a lot of couples do dinner for date night - they go out and get a meal. That kind of traps you. You want to go and have a date. And you want to forget about work, mortgage, children. But when you go out to dinner, what do you talk about? Work, mortgage, children. We came up with conversation starters - something you don’t usually ask each other. And even after ten years, we still do conversation starters.
E: And that is what we are trying to do with Melt - you don’t have chance to sit there and talk about work, mortgage, kids - you are actually just having a great time learning something new, focusing on each other, etc.
Q. We would love to hear more about your backgrounds, and about how Melt came to be.
D: I have been massaging a long time. I studied acupuncture at university, and received a health science degree. As a side thing, I thought I would learn massage during my final year. I opened up a clinic and started practicing acupuncture, while teaching on the side. I finally decided I wanted to get out of the clinic, and I wanted to find out how I could get my life back, and travel, and go see the world. So, I set up a massage business in hotels, where I could train the employees to do the work for me. I spent a lot of time practicing massage and getting my hours up and then my role kind of changed, and my job was to look after and train staff. We’ve massaged a whole host of people, celebrities like Pussy Cat Dolls, Art Garfunkel, Royalty, and even Darth Vader - James Earl Jones.
E: Den is an excellent teacher, he is really good at it, and I think he likes it a lot, as well.
D: I prefer teaching more than actually doing the massage myself. Melt came along, really, because it was our little thing. It all started when some friends asked me for my advice, before I met Emma, and I thought, “I could write this program.” And then when Emma came along, I really had the incentive to do this program. Melt started off with live courses...
E: And then it just started booking out. Back home, in Melbourne, we still run live workshops and seminars. We do twenty couples at at time, and it books out every time. We came to the point where we thought, “We need to take this wider now.” We could see how much couples were loving it, and how it was benefitting their relationship, so we found that the easiest way to get it out to couples was to put it on video, so we did that last year. Den wrote and directed the videos himself and I think they look beautiful. My background, personally, is marketing and PR, but when we started Thirty Dollar Date Night we started blogging about relationships, and I sort of carved out a bit of an expertise in that area. Then I got a column with a national newspaper back home, and I was their relationships expert for three years. I love statistics and studies, and simplifying them so couples can understand them. I’m all about practical examples. Melt works that way, too. It’s not just like, “You should be more intimate in your relationship,” Instead, we say, “Here are some really great practical ways you can be intimate in your relationship. We’re going to show you exactly what to do, and then you’ll get to intimacy, trust, connection, etc.”
Q. What is your definition of intimacy in marriage? How have you seen Melt enhance the connection that couples have with each other?
E: Intimacy is about a sort of vulnerability and trust. It is something all relationships need, but it doesn’t always come automatically. A lot of people assume that if couples have been together for ten years, that they are physically and emotionally intimate all the time, and there is a degree of intimacy that comes with time, but you also have to keep working on your intimate connection all the time. Massage can help cultivate that intimacy - it carves out a space where you can be vulnerable, quiet, and trusting together. Plus, you’re doing something really kind and generous for your partner - and all of those things really build your intimate connection. And then on the flip side, we often call Melt “pre-foreplay, foreplay,” because especially for women, it can take a little bit longer to get in the mood, and the gentle, non-sexual touch is actually a great precursor of moving into sex, if that is how everyone is feeling. So, massage is a great way to get people in the mood.
D: Even emotionally. In our live courses, we have had women break down crying, and saying, “He hasn’t touched me like that in years. I feel so much closer to him.” In our live courses, after two hours, everyone is walking out holding hands, hugging, kissing.
E: It’s really sweet...they’ll sit on each other’s laps. We love watching it. Massage is a great way to carve out that quiet time, which we kind of miss with work and technology and all the other distractions in our lives. If you can turn down the lights, do something a little romantic, and be there together, in that space, it really does foster that intimate connection.
Q. How often do couples need that kind of connection?
D: That is a really difficult question to answer.
E: It would depend on the couple, on how else you check in with each other, and whether you are feeling that connection or not. We talk about the love languages a lot, too. So, obviously for a physical touch love language, massage is a huge - they might need that every week or every couple of weeks. Try and do it regularly, at least once a month. If you can squeeze in a foot rub, or hand rub, or head massage, those few short minutes can really change your day.
Q. What are your final thoughts on how Melt helps nurture marriage?
E: We really do think that Melt is one of the most romantic things that couples can do together. It has all the ingredients for a great romantic night-in. I know a lot of guys who are often say, “She wants me to be more romantic, but I’m not sure what to do!” Turning down the lights, putting on some music, running a bath, and then giving her a massage when she gets out of the bath - all of that just oozes romance. And on the flip side, guys love massages, too!
D: Melt is impacting the lives of couples from all over the world. Each month, hundreds and hundreds of couples purchase Melt to use in their own relationships. They write to us to tell us how it has helped them – more intimacy, deeper connections, stronger trust… We know its a small thing but we also know its a proven thing: Massage changes couples relationships. We’re helping in one small way, as one happy customer put it, to bring a little more love to people’s lives. We couldn’t be happier or more proud.
Make sure to check out their Mother’s Day Special - Mommy Needs a Foot-rub!
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