Date nights save relationships

Relationship educators often recommend that couples go on regular ‘Date Nights’ to keep their relationship alive and healthy. But is there any evidence from research that they work?

The answer is an emphatic yes.

For this analysis, I used data from up to 6,420 couples in the Millennium Cohort Study whose children were born in the years 2000 to 2002. The parents were interviewed at 9 months, 3, 5, 7, 11 and 14 years. The sample is weighted so that it fairly represents the population of the UK.

Parents who went on ‘date nights’ at any stage of parenthood were significantly more likely to be happier with their relationship and satisfied with life when their child was aged 14. Those who went on date nights when their children were aged between 3 and 5 years old were also significantly more likely to remain together.

These findings held true regardless of a wide range of other factors, including whether couples were ever married, their age, ethnicity, education and income, their relationship history and their initial relationship happiness soon after their child was born.

Yet above and beyond all these factors, date nights made an additional difference. What this strongly suggests is that being intentional about your couple relationship when your children are still quite young pays real dividends in later years.

According to the Census, 1.5 million couples in England & Wales had children aged 3 to 5. My analysis suggests 1.1 million of these couples go on some sort of date night. Net of all other factors, date nights reduce the probability of family breakdown by 20 percent. If the other 420,000 couples made time for a date night, in theory 23,000 relationships could be saved.


Here you can download the Research Briefing Paper as a PDF and the Press Release where it is available.

Media Links

Mail on Sunday – page 3 – How date nights really can save a marriage – and could actually be the secret to avoiding divorce

BBC Radio 5 Live – This will bring a smile to your face, says interviewer Connor Phillips. Harry and Kate talk about their own experience of date nights. Listen from 49 mins 30 sec

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