I have a couple of them.
One of them lives a long way away from us, but we have been friends all our lives, since around the age of two when we played in the same sandpit together. We both attended the same 'senior school', which was a convent.
We were often taken as sisters by the younger girls who did not know us. We both met our husbands at the tender age of sixteen, except that my friend was married by the age of twenty, and I didn't marry until five years after that. We are both still wonderfully, happily married to the same men, and our husbands are great friends too.
The other friend lives a short distance across the fields from me, and we have known each other for over thirty years.
We see each other about once a week, though we do not fret if we go a week or two without seeing each other - lives are busy and events get in the way. Her middle son and our son are best friends, and her son is to be our son's best man when he marries next year. This friend was married a couple of years earlier than us and is still wonderfully and happily married. Our husbands are great friends as well.
These friends are both very different from me in temperament. They are both pretty well laid back, and only very rarely get their feathers ruffled or their knickers in a twist. Whereas I am like a glowing ember that springs into flame on a regular basis.
Thankfully less often now than before, but which nevertheless needs repeatedly dampening down for my own good.
My friends and I share many likes and dislikes. We have similar hobbies. The first friend used to ride with me every weekend during our younger days, whilst my friend from across the fields and I rode our horses together for about twenty years, and encouraged our children to ride, although only our daughters enjoyed it. Our sons preferred tractors and other interesting machinery.
When I am with either of my friends, I never need that fire dampening down. In fact, I can say, hand on heart, that I have never fallen out with them, nor had an argument or bad word in all the years we have known each other.
Does this mean we agree with everything we say to each other? Hell, no! But we agree to disagree. Hence there is never any disharmony between us.
We are always there for each other, to listen, discuss and give opinions. Always there through joy and sorrow, to celebrate and support. Always there during good times and bad.
Why, therefore, is it so difficult to have this type of calm and harmonious relationship with one's nearest and dearest, namely one's husband?
I wonder? Is it because we love too much?
When you are with another person 24/7 you notice every little deviation from the path you are walking together. In fact, that path is fraught with obstacles lying in wait to trip you up and cause disharmony.
You are two entirely different people, sometimes having very little in common apart from the fact that you love each other, and little do you realise when you say the words "I will" what those words mean.
Sometimes when I look back at this long and winding journey through life Dan and I have taken, it knocks me sideways how fast the years have flown.
Dan and I had a very long engagement. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as it was far too long - five years - but it was most definitely our boot camp. It was during that time we learned to stop being self-obsessed individuals and to become a loving and tolerant couple, showing concern, consideration, and above all learning to cherish each other.
If I had to choose another word for love it would be cherish.
Our journey into TTWD has not been an easy one.
Instead of a journey the length of Africa, it has turned into a journey that circumnavigates the globe ten times at least.
We thought we knew each other inside out. We didn't. We are still on a voyage of discovery - enthralling and exciting.
A week after my last spanking, I got another significant spanking.
In fact, to me, it was more significant than the previous one.
We have a great many stresses in our lives at the moment, and I have done nothing but moan about them all till you must be running for the hills.
Dan went for an MRI to check whether his cancers are keeping stable, or whether they have started to grow again. I was unable to go with him, as I was in bed with a bad chill. But it was in the week leading up to this MRI that my embers became a blaze to contend with.
Dan was, understandably, getting anxious and worked up about his forthcoming visit to the London hospital where he is on a cancer trial.
He was being a BEAR. In every way.
Nothing I said or did suited him. He was black to my white till he had me seething.
It culminated with him going off on a short business trip and staying away for two nights. The first night because he had to be with his client by 9 in the morning and it was too far to travel, and the second night because he finished late and knew he would be too tired to drive all the way home.
The day he set off to drive up north was a Sunday. He asked me to have lunch ready so that he could leave by 2pm and not have to travel in the dark.
Everything went wrong that morning. He needed to get some last minute things done on the computer and the internet went peculiar; he couldn't find a favourite shirt; our son asked him for some help with some an accounting issue and got growled at; he found a bill that should have been paid and had been forgotten; my car battery went dead and the tyres on one side were nearly flat (slow leaks) requiring pumping up. The list was endless. All I could hear was Dan swearing, and see blue air everywhere.
In the end he decided to not bother with lunch, and to set off even earlier. He was clanging around and grumbling and swearing right up till he left.
And then he went off without saying goodbye to me.
For me, this is a major thing.
We always say goodbye and give each other a quick kiss, and when we meet up again we always kiss each other 'Hello".
What a morning. I just sat and wept. "Who'd be married?" I thought.
That evening he phoned to say he was safely where he should be, and he promised to ring the next day. He sounded in a better mood, and he did ring back briefly the next evening after work saying that he would see me early afternoon the next day but would call me before he set out.
No matter. I was keeping one eye on the clock and was really looking forward to him coming home.
When we were apart a great deal in the past, it didn't seem to matter. I took over the reins quite capably, and there were rarely any problems.
Now it does matter. I hate it when we are apart. I get downright unsettled.
The clock ticked round and round and suddenly it was 3.30pm and still no Dan, and no phone call.
About that time I spoke to Minelle on the phone.
"I'm not having a good week with Dan" I told her. We are rubbing each other the wrong way all the time. I may even decide to fly out and stay with you for a bit."
Her Scotsman was having a tantrum over something in the background.
She suggested that we maybe ought to go off on a short holiday together and leave our men to it.
This is marriage. This is what it is all about. Ups and downs. Nothing worth having is ever easily come by. Don't let anyone ever tell you different.
When 5pm came I heard the car coming up the gravel drive. I was in the sitting room sipping a large latte and I had almost worn a track in the carpet pacing up and down. And yes, I had tried to phone him and his stupid phone kept going to Voicemail!
He nonchalantly walked in and behaved as if nothing was wrong and the world was rosy.
I was nearly in tears. I could've happily strangled him.
You would have thought that I would've got at least a hug that night in bed.
He came to bed late, then proceeded to drop asleep and snore his head off. By 2.30am I lost it. I switched on the light, got up, grabbed my bedside glass of water, my hot water bottle, my pillow and the clock, and strode angrily down the passageway to the spare room slamming doors as I went.
Bloody, bloody man! Bloody, bloody snoring! Bloody, bloody, bloody.....!!!
The next day was the day we look after our grandbaby all day, and pick the older one up from his little school. So busy, busy, busy.
Dan continued to be a bear when he wasn't being a loving grandad.
Even our son was getting fed up with his father's attitude.
Friday morning we had a joint dental appointment and had to be up quite early and off to our nearest large town. The afternoon sped by and then it was Saturday.
We were still at odds with each other.
I went and fetched our morning drinks, standing them by our sides of the bed and drew back the curtains on both windows. Dan moaned and turned over, pulling the duvet up to his eyebrows.
The phone went. It was the little man who comes on a Saturday to help with general tasks, especially the garden. He has been coming for donkey's years and started out by washing our cars and just sort of progressed. He is hilarious. Salt of the earth. We just couldn't do without him.
He was unable to come. Great.
I put down the phone and Dan was sitting up
"Never mind. We can take things easy for a change."
I sat stiffly and seethingly against the headboard and sipped my coffee, watching the wind in the pines outside our window.
When I had finished I snuggled down again for a few more precious minutes.
After a while, Dan joined me.
He reached out to stroke my bottom. He hadn't done that in over a week, and I was very pissed off with him and flinched away.
"So that's how it's going to be, is it?" he asked me.
"Too right" I snorted. Then I went on to explain exactly how I felt. Communication, right? No use starting an argument before he knew what he was meant to be arguing about.
I started with him not stroking my bottom when he came to bed, went on to him having a dicky fit before driving off up north, and finished with him not contacting me to let me know if he was in the land of the living or not, and just coming home when he felt like it.
I had reached that singular stage where you simply no longer care whether what you say sounds respectful or not.
"I think you better fetch an implement" he told me gravely.
The tears started running quietly down my cheeks as I got up and went across to our chest of drawers. I am one of these unfortunate people whose conscience goes into overdrive the minute unkind words leave my mouth.
"Bring the paddle" he said.
I got the leather paddle from the drawer and silently returned to bed.
I knew I was about to get another whaler of a spanking. I deserved it. I would never speak to my friends like I had just spoken to my husband. I felt awful.
Dan's mouth was a tight line. He helped me across his lap and pulled up my nightie around my waist. The sub-arctic temperature in our bedroom hit my skin like like an icy blast. How they went knickerless years ago beats me. They were surely made of sturdier stuff than we are today. Or maybe more of them died of pneumonia than is public knowledge.
His left hand rested upon my lower back and his right hand rested on my bottom. I pushed my face into the duvet and gritted my teeth waiting for the warm-up. Or perhaps he felt I didn't deserve a warm-up.
But nothing happened.
Instead, Dan rubbed and squeezed my bottom very gently before starting to talk.
He apologised to me completely and unreservedly for being a Bear.
He had known how he was acting, yet he couldn't seem to stop himself. He had known he was hurting the one who loved him and cared for him the best, but he couldn't seem to stop himself. He had known on that Sunday that he was throwing a tantrum a two year old could've been proud of, but he couldn't seem to stop himself.
All the time he kept stroking my bottom. Eventually, after accepting his apologies, and apologising myself for my bad attitude, and explaining how sad and unloved and neglected I had felt, I asked him to spank me.
The spanking that followed was probably the best, longest, sexiest and most satisfying spanking I have ever had. So was the loving that followed afterwards.
I think the best word would be tender. He was so tender towards me that I never wanted it to stop.
That got us on the move. We felt like naughty teenagers who'd been caught making out. Well, at least part of it was true. But at 11 o'clock on a Saturday morning? Hmmm.....
The very most significant thing to come out of this was that Dan apologised.
So often this part of DD or TTWD is glossed over. The man cannot possibly be wrong; or if he is, you get spanked anyway and tough, this was what you agreed in the first place.
There are two people in a marriage. Both of them can be wrong, not just one of them. The strength of love and maturity is in admitting when you are wrong, and saying 'Sorry'.
So I had my spanking, and whatever went before it was laid to rest as with any other spanking.
The road once again stretches out before us.
Whatever lies along it we will meet together.
(Just to let you know - we go to London for the MRI results on 4th February.)