w: Johnathon E. Briggs

Three Spook-takular Reasons Why Date Nights Rule

Three Spook-takular Reasons Why Date Nights Rule

— October 31, 2017 —

Editor’s Note: On this blog, I refer to my wife as “Dear Wife” (DW).  

Date night. It’s a ritual that has become an institution in the Briggs household, established years before my Dear Wife and I became parents, consistently observed before we married, and eagerly anticipated when we were dating.

When I tell people that every other Thursday is reserved for date night with my partner in crime, I sometimes get a look of amazement as if once you say “I do”, date nights instantly become “We don’t”, occurring with the frequency of a Big Foot sighting…or a coast-to-coast total eclipse…or a Cubs World Series championship.

But ever since we married in 2009, DW and I have made time to date. Today (Halloween) triggered a flashback to the Halloween of 2015 when we observed date night by dancing the night away at a wickedly delightful fundraiser in Chicago known as the Big Orange Ball.

That year, we saved the date with our babysitter and stopped at Party City to buy the ingredients for our costumes: a tiara, a Day of the Dead hand fan, a cape, a top hat. DW got all dolled up as a flamenco dancer; I transformed into a ghoulishly undead gentleman. It was one of the few occasions where it took me longer to get ready than DW because of my makeupnot hers. (It’s hard to look undead.)

After eight years of date nights, from Halloween to in between, here are three reasons why date nights rule:


Sometimes it feels like the purpose of marriage is to have someone in your life committed to helping you answer’til death do you partthe most challenging question of our time: “What’s for dinner?”

Somehow we aren’t terribly indecisive about breakfast and lunch, but when it comes to dinner, we need IBM’s Watson to calculate the possibilities.

I thought I was alone in the struggle until I heard about a recipe book by Zach Golden titled What the F*@# Should I Make For Dinner? which seeks to be “your go-to guide to save you from headache, hunger, and your own wishy-washy self.” On date nights, this problem is easy to solve for. Thank you, Restaurants of America.


Like most families with a young child (or children), our day-to-day schedules are hectic. Weekdays start at 4:30 a.m. in the Briggs family and are filled with daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, commutes by train, deadlines at work, and calendars filled with meetings. In between the hustle and flow, DW and I catch up and connect, but date nights allow us to shut out the demands and distractions of the world and focus on one another for a few hours. I get to talk to the woman I met B.W.P. (Before We Were Parents), seeing who she is now and how her inner world is shifting. Quality time keeps our bond strong.


Trust me, research has the receipts on this. Harry Benson from the Marriage Foundation and Steve McKay from the University of Lincoln analyzed data for a group of nearly 10,000 couples with a young child to identify what effect, if any, date nights have on the odds of staying together or splitting up.

The frequency of date nights across the couples broke down as follows:

  • once a week or more: 11 percent
  • once a month: 30 percent
  • less often than once a month: 23 percent
  • hardly ever: 36 percent

Over a ten-year period, the married couples who observed date night once a month had the highest odds of staying together compared to the other groups.

Surprisingly, the study’s finding only held true for married couples, not cohabiting couples (more on that later).

“Compared to couples who ‘hardly ever’ went out, couples who went out weekly or more often were no more likely to stay together,” Benson and McKay noted in their 2016 report. “In other words, the relationship between how often couples go out and their likelihood of staying together is not linear. Going out more often does not help couples stay together.”

Once-a-month date nights may be the sweet spot because, as noted by The Knot, going out too often may be a buzzkill (e.g., the stress of planning, increased babysitter expenses, loss of personal downtime). Less may indeed be more, but twice a month works just fine for me and DW.

So there you have it. If you’re married, get out and do something new with your boo (dinner, movie, comedy club, concert, etc.). Once a month is all it takes.

Oh, and for that bit about couples who cohabitate? Benson and McKay put it this way: “By going out every so often, married couples reinforce the importance of their relationship. Because their relationship is founded on a clear public act of commitment, a night out together makes a statement about the nature of the relationship. Among cohabiting couples, where there is some element of ambiguity about the future of the relationship, a night out of any kind is simply a night out.”

Definitely something to think abouton your next night out.

Father on,

865 words


Johnathon E. BriggsA 40-something father who favors wingtips + statement socks • Husband • Autism Dad • Comic Book Fan • ΑΦΑ

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Six weeks before my 40th birthday, I became a first-time father. This life-changing moment made me think about my own dad, who became a father at 44. As my parenthood journey unfolded, I noticed that most of my friends had become parents earlier in life yet, here I was, changing diapers and battling sleep deprivation at (nearly) 40. I told my wife, “Parenting is definitely a young man’s game.” But is it really?

Where most of my friends were preparing for their children’s middle and high school graduations, I was mastering the art of the swaddle, perfecting the one-hand baby wipe, and learning to decipher my daughter’s gurgles and whimpers. It occurred to me that I had so much more to offer my daughter at the sure-footed age of 40 than I did at, say, 28, when I was still coming into my own.

In this awareness, I gained an appreciation for where I am in life and the idea for Fatherhood@Forty was born. Fatherhood@Forty is a creative outlet to blog about my experiences and inspire other (relatively) late-in-life dads. It’s been said that each child is their own assignment and I believe each parent’s journey is its own destination.

Here are a few factoids about me, Johnathon Briggs, the editor behind this blog:

  • I am a former journalist (Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune).
  • I love exploring Chicago and the Midwest with my family.
  • I remain on a constant quest to stay fit.
  • I support charities that fight HIV, uplift families affected by incarceration, and ensure African American boys graduate from college.
  • I enjoy reading comic books and binge-watching House of Cards.
  • I am a child of the ‘80s, so please expect occasional references to the Golden Age of Hip-Hop.

As a reporter for daily newspapers, I had the opportunity to interview fascinating people and to test out great products and brands for my readers. I hope to do the same for you as I blog about the moments that make up this adventure called fatherhood.

Please email me if you’d like to collaborate or have ideas for a blog post: fatherhoodforty@gmail.com.

Father on,

Disclaimer: Fatherhood@Forty may contain affiliate marketing links, which may result in commission on sales of products or services I write about. My editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Copyright © 2019 — Blank Canvas Studio, LLC | No use without permission