In Norway, the government is treading into the bedrooms of the nation – to try to keep its married citizens from splitting up.
The new minister for children, equality and social inclusion has decided that encouraging date nights for couples is the trick to reducing the divorce rate, which is about 40 per cent in Norway and most likely among partners in their early 40s, the Guardian reports.
As well, Solveig Horne plans to increase funding for marriage counselling by reportedly creating state-run counselling offices, where, she said, "couples can learn more about how to be together before they have problems and talk things through when problems do arise."
The Guardian article points out that the state is talking about mandating date night – in that case, would they have to supply a babysitter too? But, Ms. Horne said, "It's important to find small pockets of time where parents can be lovers."
Ms. Horne has made it a practice to be outspoken, and not without controversy. In 2011, she was criticized for comments about rape, when she said, "Girls are responsible for the situation they put themselves in, but boys also have a responsibility to respect a 'no.' I think both both boys and girls have equal responsibility." The media in Norway has also pointed to a 2010 tweet in which she questioned the use of a book with gay characters for kindergarten students.
Ms. Horne, herself, has had a divorce, something she suggests that "date night" might have prevented. She even cites the Tina Fey and Steve Carell movie, called Date night, in which a married couple go out on a date only to get involved with mobsters.
"In the film – everything goes wrong, but I thought it would be a good idea."
Whether it's a good idea for the state to start offering marriage advice is another question.