Women who have been married for a long time can be considered as true “s*x experts,” being the ones who’ve been through the ups and downs of dating and matrimony.

Times and cultures may change, but relationships between men and women don’t. No matter what anyone says, the average person desires meaning, durability, commitment, and lifelong love, even when the prevailing culture tries to tell us differently.

We asked a handful of women—who range from seven years married all the way to 35 years—to share the true, deeper truths about s*x. >’s what they said…

• s*x is the closest my husband and I can get to one another as a married couple. It binds us after a terrible fight.

• It is the fun that we have in trying to find out what the other person enjoys.

• It is a great stress reliever and it is so fun to lock the kids out and sneak away to be together in the midst of the chaos of our lives.

• It is the ultimate in vulnerability and giving of one’s entire self.

• My husband and I were told in premarital counseling that s*x is the “oil in the lamp” of marriage. Almost 30 years later, I agree.

• When I start feeling irritated by my husband and little things annoy me or I feel distant from him, I think, ‘When is the last time we were intimate? We need to add ‘oil’ to the lamp of our marriage.’

• We generally have s*x at least once a week, and I consider us one of the more happily married couples I know.

• s*x before marriage lacks, in its inherent nature, freedom. It brings a lot of anxiety about possible pregnancy and commitment issues, enhances insecurities. It can also blind us to how good or bad our relationship actually is. It attaches us to the other person and makes us feel obligated to stay with them even if there are some huge red flags.

• Married, loving, monogamous s*x is safe. Not only because such s*xual partners aren’t at risk of STDs or s*xual violence—but because there is a freedom in the trust and exclusivity and bond that we share with our spouses in the sacrament of marriage.

• s*x within marriage is freedom! On our wedding night, I remember thinking: I am free. I am yours and you are mine. I wasn’t worried about what he would think of me. We were truly able to give of ourselves completely without fear or worry or lack of total commitment.

• s*x before marriage is like sticking one foot in the water. s*x after marriage is truly jumping in!

• If you haven’t slept together before your wedding night, the switch is not going to suddenly turn on. You won’t instantly be having hot s*x. It might be great, but allow space for adjustment to each other sexually.

• Married s*x is worth the wait. I learned this in the context of a loving, committed, supportive relationship. It was so different than the rushed, physical-only encounters I’d previously experienced that it’s hard to compare the two.

• s*x is so much more than a mere physical act. Marriage offers a frame that puts s*x in the context of commitment in a way that no other relationship can give.

• s*x creates a bond between two people. If a dating couple has that kind of intimacy, break-ups can be extremely painful, the pain longstanding. One partner might take s*x more seriously than the other.

• s*x makes it harder to walk away from dating relationships when we need to.

• Long-term married s*x can lose its lustre. Because some of the fun of s*x does come from novelty and straight-up physical desire. Years and years together has redefined for us pop culture’s versions of novelty and passion to something more profound.

• A life together includes those things, but includes a lot of other things (such as money problems, sickness, kid issues) that can take the fun out of s*x for weeks (or months!) on end.

• The hardest thing about s*x in marriage is the expectations of how often we will have s*x. At the end of the day, after nursing an infant and having kids need me all day long, I often struggle with just wanting to go to bed and not be with my husband.

• Married s*x requires a lot of patience and sacrifice and a continual putting the other person first.

.: Punch

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