An interview with 33 Miles front man, Jason Barton and his wife Jennifer
Jennifer and Jason, you have quite a pre-marriage story.
Jennifer: It all started with premarital counseling through our church — it was a great experience. We learned a lot about each other.
Jason: Jennifer and I had been best friends for seven years before we were married. Just when you think you know everything there is to know about someone… [laughs].
And you’ve been married how long?
Jennifer: Eight years.
How did the Redbook (magazine) story come about?
Jennifer: Through the Marriage Covenant organization, they wanted to do a story on premarital education, and they chose us.
We never really expected for it to be anything other than The Redbook article. It was exciting because it’s something we’re very passionate about. But we didn’t expect such an interest in the story. It’s kind of cool how it’s all happened.
As a Christian artist, it’s fortunate that we’re able to use Jason’s life to encourage and influence marriages from a spiritual perspective.
And I hear other people in the house? …
Jennifer: Two boys: four and two. [laughs]
Tell me about the article — what’s special about it?
Jennifer: We’re passionate about staying together and making marriage work.
God gave us an amazing opportunity to share our passion. We’re so honored and blessed to have that opportunity — and have the great relationship that we have.
Jason: Divorce is such a tragic thing to walk through. Jennifer and I are an encouraging voice that says, “Look, we know it’s hard. We know it’s tough but, you know, through the grace of God you can make it through this.”
Jennifer: And we are strong proponents of preparing for marriage; the article gave us a platform to share that.
You were both Believers before marriage?
Tell me about your purity decision.
Jason: Jennifer and I made a commitment to remain pure and to not live together until we were married. It was one of the hardest things…
Jennifer: Difficult. [laughs]
Jason: We had such a long history before we were married, but it’s something that we stuck to. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it is the most wonderful blessing to know that Jennifer and I saved ourselves for each other. We walked into marriage with a clean slate.
How has that decision affected your relationship?
Jennifer: We went into marriage without that baggage. That part of our relationship (sexual) has been really solid. It will be an encouragement to my children. I’ll be able to talk to them and hopefully they will make the same decisions that Jason and I made. It’s a good example to say, “Hey, you know, if we can do it you can do it.”
Jason: There is so much freedom and security in knowing we had saved ourselves for each other. It makes us feel comfortable with each another and it makes our relationship that much stronger. It was a huge blessing.
We we’re talking about how this world is so sexual. We see it everywhere. We think about our boys and think, What are they going to be faced with? How can we encourage them to stay pure?
What would you say to a seriously dating couple?
Jennifer: If you’re considering marriage, definitely consider premarital counseling. Don’t jump into marriage. We sought counsel from older and wiser people. We were fortunate enough to have a few married people in our lives that were a very big encouragement and example to us.
Let’s change gears a bit. Jason, I love the One Life to Love song.
Jason: Thank you.
Did you write the song?
Jason: I actually did not. I pray every day that I would have written it. [laughs] Two friends of mine, Clint Lagerfeld and Jason Walker, wrote that song. I was like, Why didn’t you guys call me when you were writing this? [laughs] It’s a great song and I feel honored to sing it.
It has a Country-Kenny Chesney flavor.
Jason: Those kinds of things are God things. To crossover is not something that 33 Miles has set out to do or looks to do on a daily basis. We encourage prayer and the fact that God can do whatever He wants to do with the songs and we’re just going to be His vessel and wait on it. We’re not looking for that to happen but in time if it does — and that’s where God wants to take us — then we’ll completely go there.
I had conversations lately with people wondering what they’re going to do with their lives — might be a midlife thing or they’re thinking about legacy. How are you guys applying that song to your marriage or to your family?
Jennifer: We get one shot at this life and this marriage. We want to make the most of that. The boys are seeking attention from their dad, and with Jason being gone as much as he is, it’s a challenge. And we need time together. If it means grabbing a babysitter last minute, that’s what we do. We’re going to be together as much as we can. We only get one shot at it.
Jason: You get one chance to love the people around you, to make the most of every moment and every day and I think about the boys and I think about Jennifer.
At the end of the day, nothing I do musically will matter if I let these relationships fail. I want them to know how much they are loved. I think about that every time I get in the van I want them to know how important they are to me.
Jennifer: Seek Christ in your marriage first; encourage each other on a daily basis and work out life together. Be an example for your children so that they can see what a strong, solid marriage is about. You can’t do it on your own. We can’t do it on our own. We have to rely on the strength of Christ in order to make it work.
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