Marriage may be a centuries-old institution, but couples today are making it their own, reshaping it according to their individual personalities and their shared beliefs.

They are choosing when they marry, whether they get hitched in their teens or wait until their 40s. They are rethinking how they marry, with some looking to their faith to strengthen their bond and others challenging the basic principles of marriage (monogamy, anyone?). And they are standing up for whom they marry, inviting us all to examine our ideas of what marriage really means.

Take a peek into the life of this couple that has vowed to love, honor, and cherish — and has created their own visions of the ultimate commitment.

Jason is 33Miles lead singer.

Jennifer and Jason Barton
When they wed eight years ago, Jennifer and Jason chose to have a covenant marriage — a special type of marriage that generally requires premarital counseling and makes it much harder to get divorced — as an expression not only of their deep commitment to each other but also of their Christian faith.

They were married in Louisiana, one of three states that offer legal covenant marriages; by law they can get a divorce only after receiving counseling and only under very limited conditions, such as adultery or abuse. Today, Jennifer is a stay-at-home mom to their sons, Jake, 4, and Jonah, 2, and Jason is the lead singer of the Christian band 33 Miles.

No turning back
“A lot of people think marriage is something you can take back to Wal-Mart for a refund if it breaks,” says Jennifer. “Jason and I believe that God designed marriage as a covenant, a binding promise never to be broken. So choosing a covenant marriage was a way for us to say, ‘My commitment to you goes way beyond the traditional marriage vows.’ We even had to sign a recitation that said that we agree to live together as husband and wife forever. It solidified our commitment to each other in a very powerful way.”

Love insurance
“Plenty of things stress our marriage: the two miscarriages we suffered before Jake was born, raising our boys in the midst of the music industry, figuring out who is going to pay the bills every month — something we both hate doing! But covenant marriage gives us a feeling of certainty that other couples may not have. We know for sure that these tests aren’t going to do us in, because divorce just isn’t an option for us. So we dig deeper, relying on our faith in God and love for each other, to make things work.”

You before me
“Our faith dictates that selfless love is an important part of covenant marriage. The husband should cherish the wife and the wife should cherish the husband. Basically, we just try to think of each other before we think of ourselves. We try to throw the rule book out the window as far as ‘roles’ go and work together to accomplish our goals. Our motto is Team Barton, and we live it every day.”

By Mackenzie Brown, originally published in Redbook magazine’s June 2008 issue. Copyright © 2008 Redbook. All rights reserved.Used with permission.

Porn Addiction Destroys Marriage | Restoring What's Been Lost