published Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Baumgardner: Learn how to fight right on 'Date Night'

By Julie Baumgardner

Many couples consider "Date Night" a luxury they cannot afford. And, if they can afford it, they are frequently found across from each other, gazing into their cellphone rather than each other's eyes.

Just like Steve Carell and Tina Fey's characters in the movie "Date Night," couples get so caught up in work, children and community commitments, they totally forget the fun dates that actually brought them together in the first place.

Marriage experts across the country consistently say that one of the best ways to keep your marriage strong, healthy and adventurous is to spend time together on a regular basis, doing something you both enjoy. When couples are intentional about spending time together, they are often shocked at the positive impact on their marriage and their children.

Research shows that a marriage most at risk for distress is one that makes the children the No. 1 priority instead of the marriage. An astounding 80 percent of marriages fall apart at the seams not because of something huge, but because the couple says they have become disconnected.

Perhaps your marriage could use a little pick-me-up. Whether you can't remember the last time you went on a date or you went on one last week, Chattanooga's Ultimate Date Night with Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott may give you something to think about.

This comical husband and wife team have sold over 2 million books in more than two dozen languages, including best-selling "Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts," as well as "Real Relationships," "L.O.V.E." and their latest, "The Good Fight."

"We have been speaking to hundreds of thousands of couples at Date Nights across the country and the response has been incredible," said Les Parrott. "This is a fun evening of entertainment; nobody gets put on the spot and you will leave with new tools to enhance your relationship immediately."

The Parrotts will be sharing insights from "The Good Fight," including the secret to keeping a cool head and a warm heart and how 10 minutes out of your week will diminish conflict.

"Some people might be puzzled as to how talking about fighting could make for a fun date night," said Les Parrott. "Trust me, this could be one of the best things you ever do for your marriage.

"It is inevitable that loving couples will fight. We know that how you handle conflict is the biggest predictor of how your relationship will go over time. I tell people, conflict is the price we pay for a deeper level of intimacy ... but you need to know how to fight the good fight. At Date Night you will learn specific skills to improve your fights and discover how conflict can bring the two of you closer together."

James Murphy, who heard the Parrotts at Date Night in San Diego said, 'I thought this would be a huge waste of time, but it turned out to be the best thing we could have done for our relationship.'

So whether you are newlywed or not so much, engaged or seriously dating, you may be able to take your relationship to a whole new level. Remember, it's not whether you fight, it is how you fight that makes the difference.

For more information about Chattanooga's Ultimate Date Night, visit firstthings.org

Julie Baumgardner is president and CEO of First Things First. Contact her at julieb@firstthings.org.

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