Life, Marriage, Relationships

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Candies by Daniel Horacio Agostini on flickr

Ah, that delicious feeling of falling in love… Isn’t it wonderful?!  The thrill of being noticed, the discovery of common interests and mutual affection – even the delight in your differences!  Your passions are ignited; you just can’t get enough of each other – you want to spend all your time with one another, to know each other’s every thought, to share all your hopes and dreams…

There’s nothing else quite like falling in love.



There has been a lot of talk about infidelity with the recent Ashley Madison scandal.  For those out of the news loop, Ashley Madison is (was?) a website dedicated to the arrangement of extra-marital affairs – a ‘hook-up’ site for married people.  That such an organization existed was news to me; I was shocked that there was a company dedicated to orchestrating infidelity.  Worse still, it seems to have been a thriving business.

There are those who argue that humans just aren’t meant to be monogamous; marriage, to these people, is a social construct – and one which contravenes our very nature.  To proponents of this theory, the marriage relationship has little to no merit.  With all due respect (kind of), I’m going to dismiss this theory as disillusionist propaganda – the philosophy of those so jaded by their experience of dysfunctional relationships that they are closed to the possibility of a healthy and fulfilling union.

I’m writing with the belief that marriage is indeed something special.  As one definition puts it:

Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.

It is, at its essence, a monogamous relationship; maintaining and protecting the sanctity of that relationship is one of the ‘obligations’ mentioned in the definition above.  And, far from being restrictive (which is the argument of marriage’s many detractors), the bonds of matrimony provide those within their confines with the freedom to love one another liberally and without restraint.

But what about when that sanctity is destroyed?  Infidelity is a betrayal of that sacred trust we bestow upon our spouse when we exchange marriage vows.  As I’ve discussed in the past, this betrayal also reaches beyond the couple themselves into the extended family and society as a whole.

I don’t think that many people set out to become unfaithful.  Well perhaps I should say that, aside from the multitude of Ashley Madison subscribers, I don’t think that married people who end up having affairs do so because they’ve intended to do so.  I do think that those who end up having affairs often do so because they haven’t been intentional enough about NOT being unfaithful.

There are plenty of people who simply don’t know that they need to be on their guard against temptation.  In fact, if you talk about the concept of temptation amongst your group of friends you will probably find that the discussion revolves around the temptation to eat too many treats, or the temptation to be a bit ‘naughty’ with spending or reckless in our use of time.  Rarely do we treat the issue of temptation with the seriousness it truly merits, because temptation – not only the urge to indulge in the vices of gluttony and sloth, but also sexual temptation – has the potential to destroy lives.

So – if we agree that temptation is a risk, and that falling prey to that temptation can have damnable results, we need to look at how to guard ourselves against it.

First, we need to understand that temptation isn’t a physical thing.  It’s not just acting on temptation that’s a problem; we need to cut it off at its source.  Keeping our thought-life in check is our first line of defense.

But there’s no harm in just thinking something!, you might say.  Have you ever heard the legal term ‘malice aforethought’?  This term is particular to culpability in cases of grievous injury or murder – but the same idea applies here.  Thinking about something is often the first step to doing it; as the Bible says, “from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries” (Mark 7:21).  In other words, our thoughts give birth to our actions.

What this means in real life is this: don’t indulge in fantasies about men other than your spouse.  Don’t allow yourself the train of thought, “What would it be like to live with that guy?” or “What if I’d married that boyfriend?”*.  Once again the Ten Commandments come into play – “you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife” (Exodus 20:17) and “you shall not commit adultery” (Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”)

Fantasizing about someone (other than your spouse) is a sin against that person.  If that idea doesn’t sit comfortably with you, let me ask you this, “Would you think it was OK for some guy – let’s imagine for a second that he’s NOT someone you find at all appealing – to indulge in sexual fantasies about you on a regular basis?”  No, right?  Kind of gross – kind of creepy.  That’s because he’s assuming a relationship with you to which you haven’t consented.  And if you’re getting all hot and bothered about someone (other than your husband) YOU find attractive, and indulging in fantasies about him, you’re kind of being like that creep.  Sorry!

We need to guard our thoughts if we are to avoid falling into temptation.

Secondly, we need to guard our eyes.  We don’t literally need to wear blinkers; figuratively, though, blinkers are a good idea.  What that means is that, although we’re able to see what we need to see, we decide what to look at and we opt out of looking at things that ‘lead us into temptation’.

Let me be clear about this: God created beauty.  He made our bodies to be things of beauty (our own insecurities notwithstanding), and there’s nothing shameful about the attractive nature of our design. God created the world to be a sensuous place – full of texture and appeal to delight all our senses.  God created love, too – and in this, too, there are textures and shades.  There’s unconditional (agape) love, familial (storge) love, filial (phileo) love, and eros.  Eros, or romantic love, is to be reserved for our spouse.  Job, described in the Bible as ‘blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil’, said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1)

Guarding our eyes means not ogling that guy’s six-pack in the underwear ad.  It means not turning our head to gaze for longer at a good-looking dude as we drive by.  It means not indulging in movies or magazines or other media that show gratuitous nudity.  Pornography, in particular, is damaging to our sexuality.   Looking away from these things is as much about protecting our own sense of sensuality in our marriage as it is about honouring our spouses.  West is very good about keeping those blinkers on, but I tease him a bit – we’ll be driving down the road past a pretty girl, and I’ll turn in the passenger seat and just stare at him, watching to see his reaction, until he laughs.  Sometimes he hasn’t even seen anything, and he has to ask, “What did I miss??” But it’s a joke between us, really, because he has never caused me to feel jealous by gawking at other women.

We need to be prepared to look away from temptations.


Third, we should be wary of our actions.  So maybe you’re a touchy-feely kind of girl – I’m pretty physically demonstrative, so I can relate – and you think there’s no harm in giving your workmate (‘he’s more like a brother…’) a shoulder-rub, or you naturally reach out and squeeze the arm of a guy-friend as you walk by…  And in a way you’d be right: there’s nothing wrong with showing physical affection for others – even others of the opposite sex – but you’d better be careful that your gesture of affection isn’t interpreted as something else (something more).  And you’d better be sure that it doesn’t turn into something more.

Can I just say here that I do have very close, beloved male friends – and I am not trying to make the case that ‘guys and girls just can’t be platonic friends’, because that’s just rubbish.  What I am saying is that I’m careful about how I behave with them – no flirting, no innuendo, no coquettish brushing against them.  In the Bible it says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil” – so I don’t give my male friends – or my husband – any cause to wonder if I might feel something more for them.

We have to guard ourselves physically.

This might seem like a post full of ‘do nots’; let’s move on, then, to some more proactive stuff.  Avoiding temptation also involves some decisive action.

We need to focus on our own spouse.  We should avoid fantasizing about others, but we should indulge in a healthy thought-life about our spouseWe should think good things about them.  We should bask in delightful memories of our love and use our imaginations to enhance future interactions with our spouse.  We should be mindful in how we talk to them and we should be intentional about appreciating them.

We need to look away from other tempting sights, but we should have our eyes open to the appeals of the one to whom we’re married.

We have to be careful that we don’t send others the wrong signals with our physical contact; we also have to be careful to send the right signals to our spouse.  We should nurture our physical relationship and not take our closeness for granted.

Sometimes, when we’ve been married for a while and we sometimes feel like just another part of the furniture, we can be taken by surprise when temptation jumps out at us.  Sometimes we underestimate our ability to attract the attention of the opposite sex; and when someone notices us it’s a pleasant surprise.  But we have to guard ourselves against trading our sacred contract for a momentary thrill.

One of the best ways to guard yourself from succumbing to the temptation of new love is to hold a deep and abiding belief in the unique pleasure we enjoy in having a mature love.  Believing in the special nature of marital longevity and believing in the virtue of fidelity (and the sanctity of marriage) will go a long way to fending off temptation.  Think about all your inside-jokes as a couple, your shared history, your unique bond.  A marriage that has stood the test of time is a very, very special thing.  Don’t trade that for anything.

Finally, we should be both on our guard against temptation and willing to flee from temptation.  Joseph (of the Technicolour Dreamcoat) literally fled the advances of his boss’s amorous wife.  Indeed, turning away from temptation and running in the opposite direction is the biblical way:

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

(1 Corinthians 6:18)

 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

(2 Timothy 2:22)



On my run the other day, I was tired.  I felt weak.  All I really wanted to do was find a shortcut and head home – but I knew that I had further to go.  As I approached my own street on the circuit, I crossed the road away from it.  Physically moving myself further away from the path home was remarkably effective; I was able to focus on the road ahead and I was no longer tempted to curtail my progress.

Don’t be afraid to take evasive manoeuvres in avoiding temptation.  Politely remove yourself from the company of someone who insists on flirting with you.  Disengage yourself from discussions in which someone of the opposite sex is unloading to you about the difficulties in their marriage (unless you are a minister or a marriage counsellor and listening to their trials in an official capacity – or if you as a couple are supporting them in their marriage).  Decline the offer of a car-ride from someone if it seems like there’s a frisson of desire there.

A surprising fallout from the 9/11 tragedy was the dissolution of the marriages of a number of New York firefighters.  The reason?  They left their wives for the widows of their fallen colleagues. Nobody suspected that something as seemingly innocent as supporting a grieving widow could have these unintended consequences for their marriages; it would have been wiser to have offered this support as a unit or a couple.  Maybe it seems old-fashioned, but it is not a good idea for a married man and a single woman to consistently spend time alone together (or a married woman with a single guy) – it can lead to a sense of intimacy and pull the married person away from his or her spouse.

It doesn’t matter if you feel foolish for being careful.  It doesn’t matter if you feel a bit rude for being firm about your boundaries.  ‘Abstain from all appearance of evil.’

There’s nothing like falling in love, true – but it’s no substitute for the love that’s stood the test of time.

How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage

  • Recognize temptation
  • Avoid temptation:
    • Guard your mind
    • Guard your eyes
    • Guard your actions
  • Keep your focus on your spouse
  • Believe in the importance of both fidelity and marital longevity




*Further to this point: Imagining ‘what ifs’ is a fool’s game.  It’s bound to lead to unhappiness and disenchantment, especially when our marriage is going through a rough patch.  We have to remember, if everyone got divorced when they went through a phase of finding their spouse chronically frustrating and impossible to live with, there wouldn’t be any marriages that lasted longer than two or three years!  

PS Just a note to the guys reading this – apologies for writing from the female perspective instead of making it all even or neutral, but it just got too messy.  The same applies for you, though, as I’m sure you’ve figured out.  Thanks for reading!


Family Harmony, Life, Marriage, Relationships

‘Til Death Do Us Part (or until it gets boring…)

Boring by Cheryl Colan on flickr

I woke up this morning to a Pokemon transaction taking place on my right, a pocket-money negotiation on my left, and a nappy-clad wriggly bottom right. in. my. face.

It’s not glamourous, this parenting-of-small-children.  Don’t believe anyone who tells you it is (is there such a person?  I can’t imagine so.)

Just in that moment, though, surrounded as I was by all my special little people and flanked on the left by my one scruffy big one, I was perfectly content.  This is my life, I thought, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Married life, when you’ve got kids, is so often not wine and roses.  It is so often waking up at an unearthly hour next to a chronically unshaven spouse (prickly legs or prickly face – equally uninviting), to the indescribable noise and chaos of some cranky early risers doing battle in the next room.  So often it’s leaping out of bed into the cold when you’d rather snuggle into the duvet and curl closer to your hubby or wife; it’s rushing to stop the six-year-old from flooding the kitchen as he pours milk from the giant containers that take up too much space in your always-too-small fridge; it’s stepping into the shower to find that your ten-year-old has used up all the hot water; it’s tripping on toys or sliding on a book left on the floor and having nobody there to help you up because everyone’s busy and it’s not like in the movies when your other half is there to lift you lightly to your feet or mop your brow or rescue you.

It’s tough.  It’s gritty.  It is not romantic.

So many couples find, in fact, that as the dust settles after raising small kids – whether it be the slight release from the constant exhaustion of the parenting-babies stage or the final emptying of the nest as grown children set up their own homes – they are left depleted, scraped-out, and devoid of any semblance of the romance that first drew them together.

Others wake up, in the midst of a mundanity that they’d never imagined in their most pessimistic dreams, and discover that they’ve drifted into complacency about their relationship and it has grown stale.  Life as they know it has become Boring.

And it is at this point that the cheerleaders of the world start to offer their tuppenceworth, with the ‘wisdom’ of modern philosophy (i.e.. if it’s broken then throw it out):

You deserve better.

You deserve to be happy.

You need romance.

Couples whose relationship has become Boring realize that changes need to be made.  They decide that they deserve better.  They decide that they deserve to be happy.  They decide that they need romance. And so these couples make a big decision – to call it quits.

What’s important, says the world, is that you do what you need to do to make sure that you are happy.

As long as you end it first before starting another relationship, it’s just fine.

Kids are better off with happy single parents than unhappy married parents.

People change.  It’s not fair to expect someone to stay married to a spouse that’s so different from the one they married.

You’ve heard all those before, right?  Sometimes you’ll even hear celebrities marketing these philosophies.  Undoubtedly you’ve heard friends or relatives speaking in this way about a marriage that has gone sour.

We throw away a life together with the same careless abandon we’d display in tossing a carton of milk that is past its Use By date.

It is a throw-away society that we live in.  We are a society that applauds people for walking away from mistakes and failures instead of teaching them how to fix and restore.

We forget that when we get married we take on the responsibility for another person’s happiness as well as our own.

We should be willing to work to meet that other person’s needs, to go the extra mile to answer the question, What can I do to be the husband/wife that my spouse needs?

We should be willing to fight hard for our marriages.  We should be willing to claw our way back to togetherness when we find we’ve drifted apart.  And, more than that, we should be alert to the signs that our marriage is eroding in some way, and act with great effort and intent to repair damage – with the clear goal of restoring the relationship – before things get to a point where the problems feel irreparable.

Of course I understand that there are marriages in which abuse and serial infidelity have so marred the trust that the relationship cannot be salvaged without both a complete change of heart by the offending partner (such change is possible) and the wronged spouse’s courage to forgive.

Of course.

We live in a broken world, and broken people can break the things and the people around them if they do not look to the Restorer of Life for the strength to heal.  But these are the rare exceptions to the rule of ‘til death do us part – and we are kidding ourselves if we think that these particular separations are any less painful and damaging than those in which a decision to divorce is taken more lightly.

Bless you, friends who have been hurt and harmed by the ones you should be able to trust the most.  Bless you if you have watched, helpless, while your spouse has walked away.  God sees your pain, and I do not judge it.  It is not your story to which I direct my critique; you know all too well the damage that is done when a marriage relationship is ruptured.  You know all too well how it can bleed you dry to cut off a part of yourself –and you weren’t even given a choice.

We used to refer to divorced couples as having had a ‘failed marriage’.  But in treading lightly out of care for the feelings of divorced people we now do them the disservice of championing their decision to call it quits.  Instead, we say that couples have ‘split up’ or that they’re just ‘not together anymore’ – as if marriage were just a casual arrangement that has just as casually been undone.  We no longer speak the truth about divorce – that it is, indeed, the result of a ‘failed’ marriage.  It does, indeed, damage people – and not only does it damage the couple at the epicentre of this severance but also their family and friends.  Their children – those poor innocent bystanders in the whole messy operation – are damaged, too.  These children’s marriages may suffer because of the trust their parents broke with one another.  How do you just stop loving someone like that?  And on it goes, through the generations, like a curse.

We need to see divorce clearly for what it is.  It is an amputation.  It is a severing of a part of you – it will leave scars.  We need to return to the ideology that marriage is for life, and anything less than that is a failure and a denial of sacred vows.

Married people, we all need to evaluate ourselves regularly: Am I doing what it takes to nurture this relationship?  Am I giving my best to my spouse?

So – you deserve better?  Do better.

You deserve to be happy?  Invest in keeping your spouse happy.

You need romance?  Instigate it – make a date, plan for romance.  Make it happen.

We need to cultivate a good relationship.  We need to cultivate feelings, actions, and attitudes to have a successful marriage.

We need to be invested in our relationships; to perform check-ups and tune-ups on our marriages.  We need to be willing to work on ourselves instead of pointing the finger at our spouse.  We need to avoid the trap of vanity; the presumption that the person we married should look better, be better, act better, ‘because we deserve better’…  Instead, we need to be working to better ourselves.


‘Til death do us part should be a thrill and a privilege.  And Boring?

A marriage is what you make it.




At the end of the day, it boils down to the choices we make:

What’s easier: taking time out each week to connect with your spouse or watching the one you said ‘I do’ to walk out of your life?

What’s worse: having to work at keeping the romance alive or accepting the status-quo of a relationship that feels boring and unfulfilling because you have done nothing to bring enrichment or satisfaction to your marriage?

What’s better: seeking opportunities to grow as a couple through attending marriage events and courses or allowing your spouse to become a distant stranger?

Choose love.


A Funny Thing Happened On Our Way to a Happy Marriage

Funny Thing


“The determining factor in whether couples feel satisfied with the sex, romance and passion in their marriage is, by 70%, the quality of their FRIENDSHIP with each other.”

Research on the subject of marriage relationships tells us that ‘happily married’ couples have five positive interactions for every negative one; in comparison, those who ultimately divorced averaged just 0.8 positive interactions for every negative one.

The ‘Happify’ website also cites a study in which “couples who were asked to recall a moment that involved ‘shared laughter’ reported being more satisfied than those prompted to recall positive moments in their relationship.”  So laughter, in addition to being ‘the best medicine’, is also greatly beneficial to the health of a marriage.  This is good news for me and West because laughter is quite literally the glue that holds us together.  The crazy glue.

Westley and I met fourteen years ago on St. Patrick’s Day.  Our shared sense of humour gave us one of our first connections, and laughter has continued to define and enrich our relationship in the years that have followed.  West often has me in stitches, and I love him for it.

Our ability to laugh at ourselves – and (gently) at one another – has stood us in good stead throughout our marriage.

That’s not to say that we don’t take things seriously.  Indeed, we can be very staid and un-fun when the occasion calls for it – and of course there have been stages in which laughter hasn’t come as easily as at other times – but in general as we’ve grown and matured in our relationship we’ve also grown more relaxed about our own foibles and fonder of one another’s small quirks.  We have also added to our list of ‘inside jokes’ with each passing year, as must be true of most happy couples.

In the close relationship of a marriage, we have the opportunity to be one another’s greatest cheerleader – or cause each other the greatest hurt.  By keeping the laughter alive, we stay on the right side of the ledger.

Both of us love to joke with the other.  We’ve even occasionally invented silly games to inject a bit of fun into life:

  • When we were newlyweds, we used to pluck a random word from the dictionary and challenge each other to insert it into the general conversation at parties.  One of the rules was that we couldn’t explain to anyone else why we had used the word (bonus points were given for using it appropriately in a sentence).
  • When our first two boys were small, we’d take turns choosing a sentimental book at the library and get the other to read it aloud to the kids – if possible, without crying.  We’d giggle as we (and each other) snivelled  our way through the stories, quietly loving the fact that our hearts were so equally tender.

More than these contrived amusements, though, our differing natures have provided us with great fodder for fun.  In the area of cars and driving alone, West and I are vastly different; and thus we have lots to laugh about.

For one thing, West loves cars (this will surprise those of you who know we drive a lowly minivan – but then you will realize the depth of his sacrificial love for me, that he deigns to own and drive it!).  He knows cars, and can recognize a type/make/model of car just by its angles, lights, and other subtle features.  On the other hand, I know nothing about cars.  I struggle to notice, let alone remember, the details of any particular vehicle. I frequently pass people I know who are waving furiously as they drive by me – they’ve probably thought I’d registered it was them because I’d have recognized their vehicle and peered inside to see them.  But in fact I have no idea who has what car. Half the time I only recognize our car by the license plate…  West thinks this deficiency in me utterly hilarious.  And I have to chuckle about it being such a no-brainer for him to recognize so many different vehicles.

I have something of a handicap when it comes to navigation.  I understand how to read a map, and if I am at home and I can register what route I need to take ahead of time (especially if I have the added clues of landmarks to guide me – thank you, Google ‘Street View’ – and an ability to turn the map around to sort out which way I should turn at which intersection), then I can generally manage.  But ask me to navigate (in the heat of the moment) in a place that’s foreign to me while we’re driving along at some speed, and you’ll be out of luck.

This has led to problems.

When we spent several weeks driving through Spain and Portugal together a couple of years into marriage, I acted as navigator while West drove along the impossibly narrow streets and attempted to locate our accommodations in various quaint towns.  When he grew frustrated at my inability to navigate without twisting the map around and asking him to attempt the roundabout for the fifth time, I grew frustrated, too – and threatened to toss his precious map out the window.  Some damage did occur to that map, and it may have occurred because of some intentional or unintentional foot-stomping of mine – but that’s all I’ll say on the subject.

My difficulty with navigation is not confined to making my way around unfamiliar places – I can also get lost when I know the road well, as I have no innate sense of direction.  Just the other day I was driving A. to his weekly keyboard lesson and became confused with where I was and where I was supposed to turn off.  So I stayed on the road and ended up going over the bridge to the wrong side of the water.  It was a harrowing ordeal for someone with no sense of direction; I felt rather like I could contribute my story to that ‘I Survived’ series of books. Miraculously, I did make it to the lesson in the end (albeit twenty minutes late, after having to stop back on my side of the bridge for a look at the stupid map!).  It’s no surprise that, with my difficulty in navigating and my lack of a sense of direction, driving is not my favourite pastime.

West loves to drive.  The idea of a long, scenic drive is, for him, absolute bliss (even with four kids in the back seats of the minivan).  I think he’s crackers, but I love it that he likes to drive – because I’m far less stressed out when he is in the driver’s seat.

But it’s not just the subjects of cars and driving that lend humour to our lives.  We also have lots to laugh about with our little idiosyncrasies.

I love to laugh about how reticent Westley is to share his thoughts and feelings, considering how opposite we are in that – and he laughs about my verbosity (nice of him, really!).  I love planning but I’m rubbish at follow-through and he struggles to plan but he follows through on all the loose ends I leave dangling around – we laugh about that, too.  I laugh about his pessimism and he chuckles about my optimism.  West has this desire to communicate his ponderings about highly technical subjects and I have zero interest in listening – he tries sometimes but he rarely gets far before I’m in fits of giggles about the complexity of the subject and my inability to grasp even the desire to know about it.

The other day West was picking me up from a ferry in the pouring rain.  As I emerged from the terminal building I peered through the downpour to see our car, and to my relief I saw West driving towards me from where he had parked.  I got into the car and he was chuckling, so I asked him what was so funny; he replied that he had wondered how he’d spot me in the sea of raincoats, but in the end he had known it was me by my mannerisms.  Apparently I had craned my neck forwards to try to see the car, and this was utterly hilarious to Westley, who pointed out that this position would hardly prove an advantage in spotting a vehicle some meters away.  I had to laugh, too – it hadn’t occurred to me that it was a futile gesture.

Equally futile, according to Westley, are my attempts to draw his attention to something by pointing at it.  He insists that I don’t point properly; he says that I just line the object up with the tip of my finger even if my finger is pointing in the wrong direction.  In his infinite wisdom, during our first year of marriage, he even went so far as to tape a small flashlight to my finger and take me into a darkened room to practice ‘proper pointing’.  Of course, I was giggling so hard that I couldn’t point properly at anything.  He quickly learned that the exercise was – ‘scuse the pun – pointless.

West was also the one to point out that I am apt to stamp my foot when frustrated with him.  I suppose this makes me look like a petulant child – and if I’m honest I sometimes feel like one when I am having a rant and he is looking at me in his aggravatingly bemused fashion.  But now if I am bent out of shape about something and unconsciously stamp my foot, West just smiles and points at my foot and it kind of takes the edge out of the whole thing.  I have to smile, which totally ruins the whole being-mad thing.

In fact, one of the things I love about West is his special take on life; and I believe that he feels the same about me (if not, perhaps we will laugh about that later, too).  He is the perfect foil to my madness, and I am mad about him.

So, a funny thing happened on our way to a happy marriage – or lots of funny things, actually – and it turns out that each of those shared moments of laughter has contributed to our treasured friendship with one another.