In just a few short weeks, my husband I will have been married eight years. Eight years full of conversations, life changes, more than a few tears shed and oh so much laughter. When you unite yourself to another person, you begin to fill a life. A life full of memories, some big and some simple.

I remember when we first met. I remember candles and rose petals as I walked into a room, sometimes for no reason at all. I remember secret exchanged glances, heart racing as I waited anxiously for the next communication. I remember starlit nights when we whispered secret dreams and hopes and made plans for the future. And I remember one particular starlit night when he got down on one knee and made those plans and dreams a reality.

I remember when we were first married, hearts full, smiles beaming, eyes bright. I remember opening boxes of wedding gifts until 2 a.m. and finding places to store them in our small two-bedroom apartment. I remember trying to cook fancy meals on limited budgets, just to surprise him. I remember fights that weren’t worth fighting as we learned to meld together as a couple. I remember date nights to Coldstone because it was buy one get one free on Tuesdays and I remember long conversations over melting ice cream.

I remember the adventures we took. The sound of the water and the feel of the sun as we kayaked just the two of us, escaping in the middle of the day. I remember exploring the streets of Austin, walking the Riverwalk in San Antonio and staring at the architecture in Chicago. I remember living on cheese curds and beer during one anniversary trip and watching the sun set over the lake on another.

I remember the hardships, the tears, the feeling of the wind being knocked out of you when life dealt you one too many blows. I remember lost jobs, harsh words, family drama. I remember the feeling of hearing the words “reproductive medicine” for the first time after one too many negative symbols on a pregnancy test.

I remember the feeling of indescribable joy and change. I remember buying our first home walking through our turquoise door together for the first time. I remember love notes scribbled on old dry cleaner hangers, telling each other we could take on the world as we started new jobs. And I remember the tears and elation at the site of a positive pregnancy test and the pure bliss of my son being laid on my chest for the first time, my husband by my side.

These days, at almost eight years in, our day-to-day memories don’t seem as romantic. There are days when the smell of vomit and a Venti cold brew from Starbucks remind me more of my husband than candles and rose petals. Our conversations are filled with diapers and schedules and you do that while I do this. These days, the biggest whispered plans are medicine times for a teething one-year-old, who’s doing daycare pickup and if either of us has to work late.

Our life is full of memories, but often I find they feel more muted. It plays like a highlight reel, where the details are fuzzy. But what I do remember, as clear as day, is a marriage. A marriage that’s not built on chick flick mushy gushy love, but one that’s built on grit, give and take and self-sacrificing love.

It’s holding partners tight when life knocks them down and helping them rise even when they don’t want to. It’s the one who whispers, “I’m so proud of you,” and “I believe in you,” when you can’t find the energy to believe in yourself. It’s the one holding your hand in the doctor’s office or scouring the paper for new job openings. It’s the man who doesn’t hesitate to take his sick child so his working wife can get things done. It’s love that chooses to keep showing up, even when it’s not convenient. It’s two people, doing life in the trenches together, raising littles, working hard and dreaming big.

So as we celebrate another milestone on our marriage journey, my hope and prayer is that we continue to have that kind of love. A love that shows up and doesn’t give up, with a little more romance and a little less baby vomit.

Katie Hutton

Katie Hutton is a writer by passion and a marketer by trade. She enjoys sharing stories about real life, in all its messy fabulousness, wine dates, spreading random acts of kindness and exploring new places. But her favorite moments are spent with her husband and their two boys. Follow her on Twitter @KatieMHutton.