Armstrong family photo
Nadie and Bill Armstrong enjoy a recent dinner date.
Armstrong family photo
Nadie and Bill Armstrong enjoy a recent dinner date.
Even eating crackers and sardines on a curb in a parking lot can be romantic if you’re sitting next to the right person.

That’s a truth Nadie and Bill Armstrong have learned from their weekly date nights. According to the Salem couple, the practice helps them feel close and connected.

Sometimes dates include a nice dinner out; other times Nadie and Bill stay in and cook a meal together. Once, on a lean budget month, they really did sit together in a Grocery Outlet parking lot, chatting and eating, and then set out on a walk together.  

“Many Fridays when we get into the car, we look at each other and say, ‘What are we doing tonight?’” Bill said. “It doesn’t really matter what we do as long as we spend the time together.”

The Second Vatican Council said, “The well-being of the individual person and of human and Christian society is intimately linked with the healthy condition of that community produced by marriage and family.” The Church sees marriage as a gift to society.

Methods to express married love are as abundant as there are couples in this world, but one nurturing activity for many relationships is one-on-one time.  
Originally from Burkina Faso, Nadie met Bill in 1998 when he was volunteering in her country on projects to improve access to drinking water. They moved to Salem to be near Bill’s family, and are now parishioners at Queen of Peace Church.

Nadie and Bill started the weekly date night tradition after their first child was born 11 years ago.

“I found that it was hard to get ‘me’ time or ‘us’ time because we were new parents,” Nadie said. “ All of your energy goes into the kid, and slowly you shy away from the ‘us.’”

Bill and Nadie make this time together a priority. Weeks without a date are rare. If they can’t go on a Friday, their usual date night, they find another time in the week to bond.

Discussion topics aren’t limited in any way. The only rule is that they must listen to the other attentively, with acceptance and empathy.

“If something happened with the kids that is on my heart that I haven’t been able to share yet, then I’ll bring it up and we’ll talk about that,” Nadie said. “If there is something that happened at work that Bill hasn’t been able to share, we’ll talk about that.

Sometimes we talk about us — where are we at; how is he feeling; how am I feeling. It’s whatever is on our hearts.”  

Bill and Nadie said their weekly bonding time wouldn’t happen without the support of family members, who help care for their children.

Volunteers at St. Pius X Parish in Klamath Falls support their married parishioners by offering free childcare service one evening a month.

“It’s a way we can give back to our parents,” said Mary Holder, director of religious education and youth ministry at the Southern Oregon parish. “The kids can come and have fun with their friends at church, while mom and dad can go out and have a nice evening without worrying about their kids or having the added expense of paying for a babysitter.”

Seeing the parents’ moods when they return to pick up their children is rewarding for the volunteers who help babysit the children, Holder said.

“They get to see how much it meant to the parents to have that time and know that they were part of making this happen,” she said. “Those volunteers know that they are truly giving a gift to those parents.”