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‘Know what pushes their buttons and know when to stop’

Special to the Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Erica Wright ewright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.


Live: Hoover

Married: July 18, 2010

Met: In 2004, Byron and Traci met at a house party on the Southside. Traci, then 21, and Byron 19, were eying each other and he approached her. “I thought he was nice, but I didn’t really take him seriously because at the time I wasn’t looking to be serious… I thought he was cool, he was funny,” Traci recalled.
“She was down to earth, and the mutual friends that we had thought highly of her…and since I think highly of them and they were good with her, I wanted to get to know [Traci] too,” Byron said. “She was attractive, and I actually did have to chase her a little bit.”

First date: Months later the pair went out alone for the first time and went to the movies at the Summit theater where they saw ‘Oceans Twelve’. Afterward, they stopped for ice cream.
Byron said, “she was dressed nice, I was attracted to her and into her but I wasn’t quite sure she was sold on me. I took her to get ice cream afterward because she’s always been a sweets person.”
Traci said they didn’t go to dinner that night because they went to the last showing, but the movie choice was “his idea, Byron knows a little bit about everything and he had a lot of fun facts about the movie. It was late, but after the movie we just kind of hung out, we had a good time.”

With this being their first time out alone, Traci said that Byron took the opportunity to let her know how serious he was about her.

“I liked Byron, but he was really serious about me, and I wasn’t so serious… I was cool with the pace we were moving, but Byron ushered it along and made me feel like he truly wanted to be with me,” she said.

The turn: Over the course of four years, Byron and Traci nurtured a long-distance relationship; Traci was in Birmingham and Byron in his hometown of Dadeville (Lake Martin area), Ala after he graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB]. At some points they were dating, and other times not, but they remained close. In June 2008 the pair began steps towards a full-time commitment. Byron had lost his job in Dadeville and said Traci’s response was “maybe it’s time for you to come back up here [to Birmingham], have you ever thought of putting in applications up here?”, Byron said. “And that was a turning point for me because I was thinking, I’m at my lowest point and she’s still right here by my side.”

Byron moved to Birmingham and they became a family.

The proposal: On Valentine’s Day 2010, at their home in Hoover. Byron said it had been a matter of discussion when he moved back to Birmingham, but it was all about timing.

“It was Valentine’s Day, we went out to dinner and came back home and she went into the bathroom and when she came back out, there I was with the ring,” Byron said. “I was on one knee, and when she came out she almost tripped over me… and then I asked her ‘Traci will you be my wife?’ and she said ‘yes.’”

Traci said she was surprised and didn’t expect the proposal to happen like that.

“We had been talking about marriage, but I was really caught off guard. … but I was very happy,” Traci said. “I was shocked and really emotional because I had lost my grandmother the day before and there were a lot of different emotions going on at one time… I cried and then I just started calling everybody and telling them I’m engaged.”

The wedding: At Aldrige Gardens in Hoover. Their ceremony was officiated by Pastor James Mason who at the time was an associate pastor at The Worship Center Christian Church. The couple’s colors were black and white, and all of the attendees wore the same.

Most memorable for the bride was “getting there and seeing how beautiful everything was. We didn’t have a lot of time to plan (four months) so it was overwhelming to get there and see ‘this is really happening and everything was so beautiful’,” Traci said. “I messed up my make up a few times that day.”

Most memorable for the groom was “the reception. We had a small wedding, only our children Jaxson and Joshua were in the wedding so the wedding was over fast, but the reception was the best reception I’ve ever been to,” Byron said. “We had an open bar and a pasta, steak and seafood station, an ice sculpture, it was epic. It was an all-night party.”

The couple honeymooned in Savannah, GA. “We left the reception, got our luggage and since we were still up and wired got straight on the road,” Traci said. “We got to the hotel before check-in and we were still in our wedding garb…and so they gifted us [their stay] and put us straight in a room.”

Words of wisdom: “Communication is important, but it’s the way you communicate, you have to figure out your own love language with your partner,” Traci said. “The best thing you can do for your marriage is to understand that [it’s] not going to look like anyone else’s marriage, and that’s ok, it shouldn’t…” And, “Trust is one of the major pillars in having a marriage, and when you trust that your marriage is yours [and don’t try to compare] you can go the distance.”

Byron said, “have fun with each other. In my opinion, having fun with your mate is important. We try to travel together, and we try to do something at least every other weekend….

“Knowing your partner, knowing what pushes their buttons and knowing when to stop,” Byron said. Everybody is their own person… with me, little things irk me, but over the years Traci has learned— ‘ok, let me leave him alone right now’. Knowing your mate is important.”

Traci added, “Nobody is perfect or has a perfect marriage, so be realistic with your expectations and learn how to fight fair.”

Happily ever after: The Joneses have four children: son, Joshua, 18, and daughters Jaxson , 12, Bailee, 8, and Barclay, 4.

Traci, 38, is a Bessemer native and graduated from Ramsay High School. She attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB] where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies. She works as an audience services manager at Birmingham Children’s Theater.

Byron, 36, is a Dadeville native and graduated from Dadeville High School. He attended UAB where he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in criminal justice. He is a police officer for the City of Bessemer.