Scenic view of trees at camp

The 40 Date Challenge

by Kathryn Shoaf


In the busyness of life, the relationship between a husband and wife can become strained.  As they strive to provide for their children, volunteer at church, and pursue a career, meaningful conversation is sometimes neglected.  Jonathan and Mali Eaton, campers at the Bluffs family camp, realized that their dating relationship dissolved once they were married.

“We pour so much into other things in life and get so caught up, we don’t stop to pour into each other,”  Mali states.  “We pour into our kids, church, work, etc.”  

While attending family camp in 2016, the Eatons heard of the Forty Date Challenge.

This challenge helps husbands and wives revitalize their marriage by going on at least forty dates in a single year.  The Eatons joined the challenge after leaving family camp in 2016 with plans to complete it before returning to camp in 2017.


I can tell you that last year was by far our best,” Jonathan says.  

During that year, Jonathan and Mali successfully went on forty dates together.  One weekend, they visited their college-aged daughter.  Another time, Jonathan planned an anniversary picnic on the beach. Every date was a chance to appreciate each spouse’s special characteristics.  

Jonathan says, “It’s been a terrific time, visiting places we’ve wanted to go, having adult conversation, and remembering why we love each other as people.”

Mali confirms, “We have been able to talk about things we normally wouldn’t, have found a better understanding of each other, and have grown closer because of it… I have been able to appreciate him more.”

The Eatons feel that every married couple should take part in the Forty Date Challenge.  

“It is a fun and necessary exercise to grow your marriage,” explains Mali.  “Even if you have a wonderful marriage, taking on this challenge would only take it to new heights.”

Jonathan and Mali Eaton plan to take the challenge again this year, and they encourage other families to join them.  

It’s a beautiful thing, marriage.”  Mali concludes.  “We should nurture it and treat it as the holy union God intended it to be.”

Are you up for the challenge?

Posted Feb 13, 2018

Kathryn Shoaf

Summer Media Intern

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