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Sara Evans Says She’s Reconciled With Husband Jay Barker After Divorce Filing and His Arrest

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Sara Evans is opening up like never before, detailing the reasons she’s decided to stay in her marriage to Jay Barker after filing for divorce in 2021. 

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In the first episode of her brand-new podcast, Diving In Deep With Sara Evans, the 53-year-old country singer told her side of the 2022 altercation that led to Barker’s arrest and how the couple moved past a dark time in their marriage. 

Noting that she met Barker when she was coming out of a “horrible divorce,” Evans admitted that their relationship had a troubled beginning. 

From 1993 to 2007, Evans was married to Craig Schelske, the father of her three children — son Avery, 24, and daughters, Olivia, 21, and Audrey, 19. Evans met Barker in 2007 and says that he helped her raise her kids. 

“I was determined that my children would not go through another divorce. Also, he raised them,” she said of Barker. 

Jay Barker and Sara Evans – Taylor Hill/Getty Images

However, Evans noted that she was “very submissive” in the relationship, alleging that Barker “loved” that. 

“He became addicted to being the boss of me, wanting to control me,” she claimed of her husband. 

Alleging that Barker’s seven-year NFL career gave him “war-like PTSD because it’s so violent,” she noted that privately they’d have big fights but her children were never aware of them. 

“It ended up being a very one-sided, volatile relationship with a lot of passion. I could tell that things were getting bad,” she said. “I’ve never loved anybody the way that I love him. I’ve also never been driven crazy the way that he drives me crazy. Something started happening to Jay.”

She claimed that her husband didn’t start drinking alcohol until after he met her and “it made him worse.” 

“The safety of being married to me, knowing that I’m a soft place to land, I think the safety of that backfired a little bit,” she said. 

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Evans said they separated in July 2020 after a “horrible fight” that “scared” her, but the singer said she was “devastated” by the decision. 

“Every step I took away from Jay I was forcing myself because I didn’t want to,” she shared. 

Slowly the estranged couple began having secret meetups and in January 2022, she said he hit “rock bottom.” 

Speaking about the situation for the first time publicly, Evans shared that in 2022, one of her daughters was with her when Barker came to see her at an outdoor party. While in his car, she said he reversed the car with great speed. 

“It really scared me and it scared all of us, especially my child who was with me,” Evans recalled. “He had a verbal altercation with my child who had never seen that side of him ever, and it scared the s**t out of her. Then he jumped in his truck and he started backing up at a very high speed. I knew Jay, so I didn’t feel the same way that my child felt. My child thought that he was going to plow our car down, that he was backing up toward our car and that she was about to watch something horrific or at the very least an accident.”

Evans said her daughter called the police, but the singer still didn’t feel Barker was a threat to her. 

“I’d been privately having these experiences with Jay for 13 years, 14 years. It was a first for her,” she said of her daughter. “I really, honestly don’t think he was trying to hit our car. I think he was trying to back up as fast as he could to see who I was in the car with. To see if I was with another man.” 

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Evans said she asked police not to arrest her husband, but that they ignored her request, stating that, by law, they had to. 

Barker was charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which included a 12-hour hold, the sheriff’s office rep previously told ET. He was released on $10,000 bond the same day. Evans and a witness told police that Barker was “intentionally” trying to hit them with his car, per previous reports. 

At the time, Barker posted about the incident online. 

“I am humbled beyond words by the support I have received from friends, supporters, and so many in the Alabama family. To all of you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your thoughts and prayers,” he wrote. “We all confront challenges in life, and my family and I are facing one now.”

“Unfortunately, headlines and quick-to-publish news stories do not adequately capture the full context and complex fabric of our lives,” he added. “I love my family dearly, and at this difficult time, I respectfully ask for privacy for the sake of my family and especially for our kids.” 

Evans initially stayed away from her husband, and though they’d been told by the judge and their legal teams that they were not to speak, Evans said Barker reached out to her via text three months later, saying she was still his wife.

“A lot of women will judge me and will want to judge me, but when he said, ‘You’re still my wife,’ I don’t know. I just melted because I thought, ‘I am still your wife and we can talk if we want to.’ We’re both still adults,” she recalled. “He said, ‘I will literally do anything not to lose you. I will literally do whatever you tell me to do.’ I’ll go away. I’ll do rehab.” 

Taylor Hill/WireImage

Evans set some rules for a potential future for their marriage, saying Barker had to be both in individual counseling and in marriage counseling for the rest of their lives. 

“And when we go to marriage counseling, we have to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” she insisted. 

Stating that she now feels that she and Barker have a “much more balanced” marriage with “mutual respect,” Evans said that over time, her children have forgiven her husband for his actions. 

“I don’t encourage all women to do this. Every situation is different. Some situations are a lot more dangerous than mine. Some situations are less, but they should still probably divorce. But I just didn’t want to divorce again and start over. I pictured myself being alone and missing him,” she said. “I just didn’t want to not be married to him… People can change because he’s a totally different person.”

Saying she’s “happier” than she’s ever been, Evans was careful to reiterate, “[Domestic abuse] is absolutely never, ever right and it’s never something to be taken lightly… Every woman needs to follow her gut and do what’s best for her… I truly now believe that we are going to stay together forever and be very happy, but it’s not going to be without rules that I put into place.”

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, help is available. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233to get help today. 

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