5 Times to Remember the Early Days of Your Relationship

Call me crazy, but I loved summer football conditioning. A lot of players hated those workouts back at the University of Georgia, but I couldn’t wait to grab those weights and get stronger. I could hold my own on the bench press, but I especially liked the leg workouts. I knew a strong base was key to success on the football field.

I also learned another lesson while at UGA. A strong base can be key to building flourishing relationships, too. I met my wife in college, and those early days were pivotal for us. They weren’t always smooth. We definitely fought a lot when we were first dating (we still do, 20 years later!), but we always found a way to get through it. Our base has been strong. How we handled those early days helped mold us into who we are today. Maybe the same is true for you. If you are doubting your relationship, or wondering how to get through a rough patch, trust the foundation you built early on. Here are 5 times to remember the early days of your relationship.

1. When You’re Angry

My wife and I fought a lot when we were first dating. We always found a way to get through it. I remember one time, after a pretty heated argument, writing “I’m sorry” on a white t-shirt and driving over to her house to apologize. I knocked on the door wearing the shirt and asked for forgiveness. It worked! Today, when we are angry with each other, we think back on stories like that one to remind us that if we overcame disagreements then, while we were young and new to love, we can certainly do it again after being together for years.

2. When You’re Impatient

My dad made Kirsten go on a mission trip with him and a few other church leaders before he’d bless our engagement. He wasn’t going to agree to a wedding if he didn’t have a firm grasp of his potential daughter-in-law’s character. It took a little while for him to get to know her well enough, but he told his buddies on that trip that he deemed Kirsten would be a good fit as my wife. It was a process getting to that point, but it was worth the wait. If the early days of your relationship were great but things may be developing slower than you’d envisioned, it’s OK. Be patient. Trust that those baby steps are covering valuable ground. If you wish your relationship were in a different place right now, remember that your life isn’t a movie script. Real life takes time.

3. When You’re Confused

Life circumstances can get tricky, leaving us a bit confused at times. We don’t see eye to eye on everything, but my wife and I are unified on the big things—faith, family, and goals. I chose my spouse based on our shared values. Those things don’t change with outside noise. If you get confused when your wife has a differing outlook than you on things like kid’s schoolwork, sports, or vacation destinations, remember those things aren’t foundational. If you remember that you, hopefully, built your relationship on the big things, confusion over tiny things won’t derail you.

4. When You’re Lukewarm

I remember going to a dance club with friends and running into Kirsten. I ended up ditching my buddies to spend the whole night talking to her instead. We weren’t even dating yet, but it was so much fun to get to know each other better. That connection is still there, even if it feels dormant. When you start feeling like those “butterflies” don’t flutter as often as they once did, remember what sparked your connection in the first place.

5. When You’re Struggling

Think about what it would be like climbing a mountain with someone. You both begin with the idea that you’ll help each other reach the summit. You sweat together. You get sore together. You persevere because you committed at the base of the mountain to help each other see the top. That’s marriage. We are both invested in each other, so when one person struggles, we both struggle. When things aren’t ideal, remember that feeling at the foot of your mountain. Push on together and pull each other along.

Sound off: What about your relationship with your wife has only gotten better with time?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What does it take to make a friendship better over time?”