How They Met
Josh and Traci met in high school. The two dated as teenagers for a few months until Traci graduated high school and moved away for college. Josh graduated a year later, enlisted in the Marine Corps, and headed off to boot camp. When Traci came back from college, she found Josh on Facebook and began to reach out to him. Traci said, “I just kept messaging him and talking to him until he answered.” Persistence paid off for Traci when Josh finally asked her out on a date, “I was curious. I wanted to see what she was all about," Josh shared. Their first date was at Chili’s, Josh remembers, “Talking about our life together and the dreams we had is my most cherished memory.” Josh and Traci got engaged during Memorial Day weekend of 2010. The two were staying in a cabin in Grand Lake, CO with Josh’s parents. Josh woke Traci up with an engagement ring placed on the lid of her cup of coffee. Traci says, “Good thing the ring hit my lip before I could take a drink!" Josh adds, “She almost spilled the coffee everywhere!”
Traci and Josh had a long distance engagement for two years; Josh was stationed in Japan and Traci was home in Colorado. As their wedding day approached, Traci explains, “I think we were both super nervous!” The two planned a large, traditional wedding to take place during Josh's move from Japan to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. However, those plans were sidetracked when Josh’s mom lost her battle with breast cancer and passed away. Josh and Traci reset their priorities. Traci recalls, “At that point, we didn’t even have time to plan a trip to the courthouse.” A wedding officiant is not required in the state of Colorado to be legally married, so the couple signed their marriage license in December of 2011. Josh’s dad and Traci’s mom were present as witnesses to their union and everyone celebrated the union with a glass of orange juice! Josh and Traci then immediately packed up their belongings and spent their honeymoon driving across the country from Colorado to North Carolina to begin their life as a married service couple.
Josh and Traci have faced many challenges throughout their marriage, with deployments and duty station moves adding additional stress over the years. Somewhere along the way, they found themselves struggling to communicate with one another. Traci said, “Over the years, our marriage has seen some tough times and we have not been able to communicate as well as we’d like.” As Josh’s enlistment in the Marine Corps ended, he and Traci began to experience the reality of stepping into civilian life. They were accustomed to being surrounded by a supportive military community and learning how to live outside of that support was challenging. Traci explains, “I think now, we are still adjusting to not being part of the military lifestyle... A lot of the people we are friends with don’t understand our background, why we miss certain places, or why we continue to live away from our families. It’s just what we are used to.”
Reaching Out to CKFF
Traci and Josh found the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation (CKFF) as Josh was being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps. Josh explains, “That’s a super stressful time in your life and your marriage.” They were desperate to find time alone together to refresh their relationship. They were also looking for anything that would aid and help them with their communication. Traci researched and learned that the CKFF Revitalization Retreats could offer what they so desperately wanted. Knowing that the Revitalization Retreat included martial coaching sessions, Traci felt confident that she and Josh could find the restoration they were looking for. The idea of being part of a supportive community again, through the CKFF's network, brought a feeling of rejuvenation to their hearts. Traci found the CKFF at the perfect time, and the Foundation offered them hope as they transitioned out of the military lifestyle.
CKFF was moved by Josh and Traci’s desire to refresh their marriage and awarded them with a Revitalization Retreat to Charleston, South Carolina. The couple spent the weekend enjoying activities together and just having fun! They stayed at The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel in downtown Charleston and were able to enjoy the city life just by walking out of the hotel’s front door. CKFF scheduled a tour for Josh and Traci at the historical and stunning Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens. The two also enjoyed a city carriage ride tour around Charleston, allowing them to take in the beauty this historical city holds. They visited the beach, strolled around downtown Charleston, and dined at a few restaurants the locals recommended. By the end of their trip, Josh and Traci had reconnected, focused on their marriage for the entire trip, and began healing from trials and stress that built a wedge between them over the years.
Where They Are Now
Josh and Traci’s marriage is thriving today thanks to the CKFF providing unique programming that supports. Traci reflects, “We are in a place in our marriage where we are surrounded with positivity, support, and have the tools to be able to know when we need to focus on ourselves as a couple rather than as a whole family.” These days, Josh works as a superintendent for a construction company and Traci is continuing her career as a legal secretary. You can find them both supporting their daughter throughout the week at their local tumbling and cheer gym. Josh gives examples of how he loves this time in his life where his focus is his family, “Being able to take my daughter to bed and giving her a kiss; and giving my wife a foot rub at night while watching whatever show she is into at the time.” He and Traci credit the marital coaching sessions with a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) through the CKFF with helping them develop the communication skills they needed. Traci explains, “Having our sessions with the LPC where we could talk about those stressors and how we were reacting really helped us get through that time.” Josh and Traci are using the tools they have received from the CKFF to focus on one another and not the stress from their everyday activities.
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