A British political power couple has sparked a debate over whether the modern convention of the “date night” is all it’s cracked up to be.
In an epic two-part interview with the Huffington Post, Labour MP Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor of the exchequer, said he and his wife, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, don’t do date nights, never go out as a couple sans their three kids, and don’t even do nights out with friends without the other spouse there.
“Certainly, not for a decade,” he told the Huffington Post. “We haven’t.”
When reminded that British Prime Minister David Cameron recently mentioned that he and his wife Samantha keep their relationship “fresh” by having a weekly date night, as the interviewer put it, Balls stood firm.
“And leave the children with the nanny?” he said, apparently dismissive. “No.”
And he disagreed that it’s hard on his marriage: “I think it’s much stronger as a result,” Balls told the Huffington Post, “because we do lots of stuff together. Our view is that the times when we’re off work, we want to be with the children. It’s the sacrifice you make… we don’t go out and see our friends without each other. Friday night with the boys? That isn’t how we do it.”
In addition to prioritizing family time over couple time, perhaps Balls and Cooper early on realized that getting ready for date night, setting up a sitter, planning a meal for while you’re away – not to mention paying for it all – can be exhausting.
The couple has an unlikely sympathizer across the pond: new mom Jessica Simpson. She recently confessed that she and fiance Eric Johnson haven’t had much time for one-on-one dinners out since baby Maxwell arrived this spring.
“By the time we get to date night we’re too tired!” Simpson told iVillage. “Our date nights are pretty much laying in front of the TV watching Sons of Anarchy. We haven’t really gone out and had a full on like ‘I’m getting dressed up’ kind of date night… yet.”
Are date nights over-rated? Or utterly essential to marriage maintenance?