As I stood there in my white strapless gown across from the handsome boy I’d been dating for years, it was easy and effortless to say, “I do.” We were young, in love, and anxious to start our married life together.

As we moved into our first apartment and attended college together, we enjoyed freedom and had few stresses on our marriage. Daily we laughed and enjoyed each other, and in our hearts, we said, “I still do.”

As we graduated from college and were temporarily without a place to live, we had our first taste of a real grown-up problem. It was short-lived, though, as my husband soon landed a job and we moved into a new apartment. All was well, and we said, “I still do.”

A few months later, when our first daughter was born, we were on top of the world and felt we had it all. Jobs, benefits, a beautiful baby girl. This was everything I signed up for … “I still do.”

As the months passed, and the baby didn’t sleep, and the bank account ran dry, things stopped feeling so easy. But this was my husband, and we’d made a commitment, and this was probably just a phase that would pass. So in my heart I said, “I still do.”

As the years passed, and we added another child, and life got 10 times crazier, I wondered if things would ever be “easy” again. This was more difficult than I anticipated. But I was a person of commitment, so through tears I told our counselor that no matter what, “I still do.”

As my husband took on a second job and was away more and at home less, we struggled to find our way. But I realized that time does pass and things do change, and we would never be in these “early years” again. I had to decide whether I would make the best of our situation or not. And though it was hard, I said, “I still do.”

As we plan family vacations and camping trips and intentionally say, “I’m sorry,” we keep working on this marriage and family thing. We enjoy the good times with the bad, and despite everything, we’re thankful for each other. Every day—no matter what—we wake up and say, “I still do.”

As we celebrate another anniversary next month, we reflect on the past and look forward to the future. We learn to count our trials as pure joy. We picture ourselves old and gray, surrounded by grandchildren. And we are confident that “he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion at the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Today, tomorrow and forever, we say, “I still do.”

Kelcie Huffstickler was a regular contributor for MomLife Today, where this article first appeared. She also has her own blog, This Beautiful Inheritance.