Merry Christmas, Darling
Jason and Jennifer met at Louisiana Tech University and were married April 29, 2000. Their wedding could have easily been just another one of the over 2 million weddings that occurred in America that year, but it was not. That’s because Jason Barton, the lead singer of 33Miles, and his wife Jennifer said “I do,” not with a contract, but with a covenant.
A covenant marriage is a distinct legal union that limits the grounds for divorce; and although it was only 11 years ago that Louisiana became the first of three states to legalize covenant marriages, the concept for this commitment is as old as the institution itself.
“As Christians, we believe that every marriage is a covenant or binding promise,” the Bartons comment.
When God first created man, He understood that it was not good for him to be alone. God then created woman, a “suitable helper” for man, and stated in Genesis 2:24 that “for this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” God designed marriage to be one man and one woman, for one lifetime.
For Jason and Jennifer, having a covenant marriage gave them the opportunity to solidify their commitment to one another and the integrity to be able to say, “We’re in this for the long haul.”
“I think it gives us more confidence in our relationship on a day to day basis,” the couple remarks. “We know that disagreements aren’t going to do us in, so we are able to communicate honestly with one another every day. We love each other deeply and desire for our relationship to reflect that commitment on a daily basis!”
Open and honest communication is the key to marriage; any relationship expert will tell you that. And the importance of communication between couples may not be any more evident than at Christmastime.
Although Christmas is intended to be a time of year to celebrate peace on earth through the coming of Christ, it’s often the most chaotic. There are more decisions to make as a couple—how much money should we spend, which family members do we shop for, where will we have Christmas dinner?
When making decisions, Jason and Jennifer, always try to “be on the same page.” But sometimes, that’s not always possible.
“We may not always agree, but we decide on a game plan that we both can be happy with,” Jennifer comments. “No matter what the situation, we always find a way to be on the same page. Sometimes that means stepping back from the conversation for a bit and re-addressing it after we each have had time to think about how the other person feels. That always helps.”
At Christmastime, the rules are no different. If the Bartons can’t agree, then according to Jennifer, they compromise.
“Jason likes to overspend on the kids,” she explains. “I have to limit him on the number of gifts for them and we agree on a number and a budget. He loves Christmas so it is hard for him to say no to himself.
“HeÕs come a long way,” Jennifer adds with a laugh.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
With all of the shopping, planning and traveling, Christmas can also be a very stressful time for couples, financially, physically and emotionally.
To protect their marriage and family from the stress of the season, Jason and Jennifer remember the Reason for the season, “remembering that real LOVE came so long ago to save us and allows us the freedom to love each other,” Jennifer reiterates.
As the parents of two boys, Jason and Jennifer do this by implementing their own family traditions, such as reading the biblical account of Jesus’ birth on Christmas morning. “We want our boys to know why we celebrate this wonderful holiday,” Jennifer shares.
“Celebrating the miracle of Christ and being together… that is what is most important,” Jennifer states. “Anything else is trivial really.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she adds. “We love presents and giving gifts and parties, etc… but at the end of the day, you have to remember the reason behind it all is Jesus!”
All I Want for Christmas
To help couples re-connect, Jason and Jennifer share five things husbands and wives can give to one another this Christmas, without spending money.
1. Husbands can give their wives some much needed time off from the kiddos.
2. Wives can tell their husbands how much they appreciate them over and over (because that is all they really want).
3. Give each other time to do something they really enjoy, whether itÕs running or building something. Hobbies are great and sometimes life gets in the way. Find something you enjoy and do it.
4. A mix tape! (HA! That shows how old we are!) I guess now you would say pull some favorite tunes from your personal iTunes library and burn a CD.
5. Time alone together. Maybe after the kids have gone to bed, have a nice candlelit dinner at home. Surely you can find something in the pantry to make a meal out of. In my pantry that would probably be a package of red beans and rice!