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Date night — the secret to a happy and long-lasting marriage

SHARE Date night — the secret to a happy and long-lasting marriage

It’s National Proposal Day. Have you popped the question? Did your significant other say yes?

Whether the answer was yes or no, the fact that you asked probably means you’re one step closer to marriage. And if you want to make that marriage last, new research from Indiana State University suggests you keep a date night with your partner.

Those who keep date night alive are more likely to have long-lasting and happier relationships than those who don’t embrace date night, according to the study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. This happens because date nights keep relationships fresh, even as the people change as they get older, the study found.

After all, date night forces couples to experience new activities that will help partners grow, the study said.

"If you are supportive of each other and feel like you grow as your partner improves, you gain,” Virgil Sheets, the study's leader author, told Mic’s Kate Hakala.

Relationship expert Aaron Anderson said date night allows couples to forget day-to-day tasks for a night and focus on helping their relationship improve.

"Your identity as a spouse and as a couple often gets lost behind the routine chores and everyday tasks,” Anderson wrote in a blog post for Relationships Rx. “You forget about things like talking as grown ups, flirting with each other ... so date night is an essential element to put into your routine as a couple because it allows you to focus on your relationship and on each other in adult ways."

On date night, you can observe your loved one’s behaviors and see how you can improve or change to better accommodate the partnership, Lois M. Collins reported for Deseret News National back in 2013. Couples who make changes in their relationships based on what they learn about each other on date night will see “dramatic results” for their relationships in a positive direction, Collins reported.

Joseph Grenny, a New York Times best-selling author who has continued to go on dates with his wife during his 26 years of marriage, agrees.

“Behavior is always a team sport,” Greeny told the National. “Other people play a role in my behavior, influencing, provoking. It’s always a social process. Even if you’re thinking about career advancement, others play a powerful supporting role (in decisions and process).”

And even if you’re not married yet, date night can still help you with marriage. The National Marriage Project’s W. Bradford Wilcox and Jefferey Dew found that couples who carve out time for date night during the early stages of their relationship often have lower divorce rates once they’re married.

Date nights also makes couples, married or otherwise, have better communication, romance, passion and commitment, the report said. This is because date nights offer couples a chance to talk about personal and relationship problems, which the pair can work through together during or after the date. Working through these problems lessens the stress they have and improves the relationship, the report said.

“Given the expressive focus of today’s ‘soul-mate’ marriages, from which couples increasingly expect high levels of intimacy, communication and personal fulfillment, date nights may be particularly valuable to our contemporary cultural moment,” the report said. “Accordingly, the growing grassroots movement on behalf of date nights may be especially meaningful to today’s couples, often intent on cultivating and maintaining an intense emotional or romantic connection with one another.”

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at hscribner@deseretdigital.com or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.