Married couples who regularly go out together on ‘date nights’ stay together longer, new research suggests.
The Marriage Foundation examined data relating to 9,969 couples with small children. The data came from people who had taken part in the Millennium Cohort Study, a long-term research project run by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at University College London.
Among the sample of couples, around 30 per cent went on date nights once a month. According to the Foundation’s analysis, such couples had a 14 per cent lower chance of breaking up than those who either rarely or never had time away from their children.
However, couples who go out too often do not enjoy the same benefit. Those who had weekly date nights did not see any change in their likelihood of separation.
Harry Benson is the Marriage Foundation’s research director. He said that when it comes to finding “the magic recipe” for a lengthy marriage, date nights were an “obvious answer in an age where we are busier than ever and couples struggle to spend quality time together away from the constraints of family and home”.
The group was founded by former High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge in order to “champion long-lasting, stable relationships within marriage”. Although this latest piece of research may be “light hearted”, Sir Paul said it nonetheless “highlights an essential truth about the importance of maintaining a stable and healthy marriage especially where there are children”.
He urged parents to take some time for themselves every now and again, insisting that “enjoying your relationship is the best thing you can do for your kids”.
Sir Paul warned:
“Neglect your relationship and your children are the biggest casualties.”
The Foundation also claimed that in their analysis, they found that date nights once a month did not have the same positive effect on cohabiting couples. Harry Benson insisted that, overall, the “odds of married parents splitting up are 57 per cent lower than for cohabiting parents”. This assertion is somewhat at odds with an Ohio State University study from last year which suggested that cohabiting couples are just as happy as their married peers.