Date Night—A Growing National Phenomenon

It may have started in October 2010 with the Great Date Night in Chattanooga, Tennessee—a free evening for couples that featured nationally-recognized speakers and entertainers, cosponsored by First Things First and Chic-fil-A.

Then came a nation-wide challenge from Focus on the Family in November 2011—the Date Night Challenge which urges individuals, churches, and even whole cities to support the institution of marriage through date nights in February 2012. Chicago and Palm Beach responded with city-wide efforts, churches and civic organizations working together to urge couples to keep on dating, especially if the novelty of the relationship has worn off. Events included downtown concerts, couples karaoke, and free dance lessons.

“For a lot of married couples, especially the ones who have children, they get into a routine and they kind of lose the momentum and the fun of dating a spouse, which is what they did before they got married,” said Chattanooga’s Andrea Perry of First Things First, a nonprofit family advocacy group. She expressed her hope that couples might “come out and rediscover what it really means to have a date night.”

Chris Peddicord of Palm Beach understands the need. He and his wife, Trish, have been married twenty-four years, and their couple time vanished when their now-ten-year-old daughter was born. “When you’re dating, you’re doing things and having fun and thinking about that person,” he said. “Then life happens and you get so consumed in the daily activities, work, the bills—all the things that the ‘honeymoon is over,’ so to speak, and you forget about the needs of the other person. You forget about dating and all the things that got you together as a couple.”

Enter Date Night PDX, where couples—married and dating—are challenged to go on four dates in four weeks during the month of August 2012. A recent study by the National Marriage Project suggests that couples who guard couple time in their schedule at least once a week are 3.5 times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriages than couples who have couple time less often. Dating can add a missing spark to many relationships, and it can sometimes save failing marriages.

For local date night deals, date ideas, Portland-area events, and other resources, follow www.DateNightPDX.org, or download the free phone app.

Date Night deal of the week: Mother’s Bistro & Bar, 212 SW Stark—During the month of August tell your server you’re on a date and they’ll offer you a special $25 prix-fixe menu.

The complete report, “The Date Night Opportunity,” from the National Marriage Project can be found here

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