Masturbation is a part of most people’s sex life — even when they find themselves in a long-term relationship. And yes, that even includes marriage. Many people who are married continue to masturbate, enjoying both their partner’s sexuality while continuing to enjoy their own as well.

There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty for masturbating even though you are married or in a long-term relationship with your partner. Most men and women do indeed continue to masturbate when they are in a relationship — it does not mean that there is anything wrong. And masturbating when you’re in a long-term relationship is normal, just as normal as masturbating when you’re not in a long-term relationship.

In fact, research shows that those people who masturbate more also have more sex that is also more satisfying. That’s probably because a person who masturbates continues to be in touch with their own body and their own sexual needs and desires more than someone who doesn’t. It also means they are getting their sexual needs met as often as they’d like — putting less pressure on their partner for their sexual needs.

That’s important to remember, because one of the big problems in relationships is the frequency of sex. One partner is nearly always going to want it more often than the other partner, because we all have different sexual drives. That’s perfectly healthy and normal. Masturbation acts as an important relief valve for the more sexually active partner.

Better yet, when sex does happen with your partner, the focus becomes more on their pleasure rather than yours.

People have sex, as well as masturbate, for all sorts of reasons. Often men and women feel like having an orgasm or pleasuring themselves as a quick stress reliever, as a “pick-me-up”, or just because they are very aroused but don’t want to go through the whole process of foreplay and sex. Masturbation usually provides immediate stress relief to people, and can make them feel good with minimal effort.

Masturbating is also a great way to learn about your own body, which invariably makes for better sex with a partner. Men can use masturbation as a way to learn how to control their orgasms, while women can learn how to have orgasms more easily. If practice makes perfect, you can look at masturbation as a way of gaining more knowledge and experience with your own sexuality. The more you know about it and your body’s sexual responses — like what turns you on and what doesn’t — the better a sexual partner you can be.

If you don’t masturbate, that’s okay too. Sometimes it may feel like everyone masturbates except you. There’s nothing wrong with a person who prefers not to masturbate, as some people just prefer their sexual experiences to be in the context of sharing them with someone else. They key is that a person shouldn’t be made to feel bad or uncomfortable for whatever their masturbation preferences are.

Sometimes people feel that if everything was perfect in a sexual relationship, then neither partner would “need” to masturbate. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are very few people who are perfectly synced with any component in their relationship. And while it’s a good idea to try and marry (or be in a long-term relationship with) someone who you’re compatible with sexually, that doesn’t mean your sexual drives are going to be perfectly harmonious. Human beings just don’t work like that.

Simply put, good sex begets more good sex — in all its forms. In fact, many couples masturbate together and find it a very enjoyable part of their relationship. Honestly, there is no need to feel guilty. Listen to the good doctor: Masturbation is good for you!