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Is dating essential to successful marriages?

Readers are divided on the value of date nights to marriages and families.

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We asked readers: Is date night essential to a healthy partnership? Here's a sampling of their responses:

YES

"We put a strong focus on our marriage and have continued to do things that we enjoy. My in-laws live close to us and are usually happy to have our daughter during the day or overnight. We try for one or two dates a month. My husband and I enjoy doing interactive things like cooking classes, wine-tasting classes. We go to concerts and cultural events. We have often had date nights at home and enjoy cooking a late dinner together after our daughter has gone to bed."

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– Christina in Winnipeg

"We go out for dinner every couple of months or so. It's important for escaping the stresses associated with being at home, whether or not you have children. Getting away from the house helps us reconnect and have a conversation, like we did in the courtship phase. It helps to remind us of why we fell in love in the first place. It also gives us an excuse to get dressed up, which is always good to help kick-start the libido!"

– Jennifer in Ottawa

NO

"We never 'dated' in the 12 years prior to kids so doing it during the 12 years since kids feels contrived."

Acjcarlson, Toronto

"We have three kids 4 years old and under. We don't have much free time, and when we find ourselves with the odd spare hour or two alone, we're exhausted. Date nights are not essential to a healthy partnership. Every relationship (especially one that includes young children) has patches of, dare I say, drudgery? A strong relationship survives when the partners can laugh together … even if it's while you're cleaning vomit off the floor."

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– Marianne near Philadelphia

"Date night seems a very indulgent, North American, middle-class construct. I spend time with my husband and the kids in the evening. When they were younger, we had time alone after they had gone to bed. Now we have time alone when we go to bed. I didn't choose to have children so that I could constantly find ways to get away from them, as some seem to do with their endless date nights and yearly adult-only holidays."

– Louise in Victoria

"After a busy week of working, we're too exhausted to do all the co-ordination required to go out (find a babysitter, co-orindinate date and then actually go out). It's often just easier to hang out at home."

– Elizabeth in Regina

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