Protecting the family is something that has not been sufficiently prioritized. Under us, it will be. —Solveig Horne, Norway’s Minister for Children, Equality and Social Inclusion
Norway’s Minister for Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Solveig Horne, has targeted protecting the family as one of her priorities, starting with encouraging parents to have a weekly date night to combat the country’s divorce rate.
"In a busy life of work and family, the week can feel too short to attend to your relationship with your partner, so each couple needs to decide what sort of a date night they should have, whether it's a night at the movies or a walk together without the kids for a couple of hours," Horne said, according to The Guardian.
At 40 percent, Norway has one of the highest divorce rates in Europe, according to sciencenordic.com. Horne said she was inspired by a romantic comedy as well as her sister and brother-in-law’s practice of having a weekly date night.
"My sister lives in the U.S., and she told me that she and her husband have a weekly date night, and it really works,” Horne said in The Guardian article. “Date night isn't really something that's done in Norway, but I think it could be a good way to keep marriages together."
A study from the National Marriage Project says that “date nights are likely to strengthen relationships in a number of ways.” And although the Norwegian government will not regulate any form of date night, Horne advocated the practice. Since she became Minister in October of 2013, Horne hopes to strengthen families in Norway.
Some people support Horne’s push for parents to continue dating each other even after marrying and having children.
“I help run a marriage prep course, and we recommend couples agree (on one) date night per week, where they are there just for themselves and their relationship, and the kids, household problems, etc. are not to be mentioned,” wrote longbranch262, a commenter on dailymail.co.uk. “Every relationship, especially marriage, simply has to be nurtured. It doesn't happen by itself, and this is one way of ensuring this happens.”
Others do not believe Horne’s efforts in focusing on marriage will be beneficial to Norway.
“A date night is a good idea for couples, but Horne's argument is based on the assumption that divorce is a negative thing,” wrote commenter inmunich on The Guardian article. “Divorce in itself is not the problem, it's how people go about it is the problem. Just because a married couple stay together ‘forever,’ it doesn't mean that their marriage is a ‘success.’ A better advice to couples would be to discuss the possibility of a divorce before they marry and/or have children.”
But Norway is not the only country with government officials paying attention to the state of marriage. In August, The New York Times ran an article about how, over the past few years, South Korea’s government has created matchmaking events for young singles in an effort to help them meet and marry. The government started the matchmaking events to boost the country’s low birthrates.