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West Jordan Journal

Residents Date Their Mate at Viridian Celebration

Mar 10, 2016 11:03AM ● By Bryan Scott

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

West Jordan - Kara Ripplinger was walking home from the University of Utah campus to study for a test when she was unexpectedly “kidnapped” and whisked away to eat tacos in celebration of Taco Tuesday. Jordan Ripplinger, and some of her other friends, came up from behind and brought her into their car, she said. 

“I wasn’t worried because I knew it was him the whole time,” Kara Ripplinger said while pointing to Jordan Ripplinger, who’s now her husband. 

The couple considers that Tuesday their first date. Even after three and a half years of marriage, they said they still find it important to date each other, and that’s why they said they attended Utah State University Extension’s annual Date Your Mate Celebration at the Viridian Event Center on Feb. 5. 

The celebration was a series of workshops and presentations by licensed marriage and family therapists and university faculty. The idea was to give couples new ideas of how to strengthen their marriages, according to Fayth Bushman, event planner. 

The celebration has taken place for five years, but this was the first time it took place for one day. Usually the program encompasses short hour-long classes one day a week for six weeks, Bushman said. 

This year, each couple had the opportunity to attend three of the eight 25-minute break-out sessions offered throughout the night. Breakout session subjects included finance, intimacy, communication, commitment and overcoming conflict. 

“I want to be more serious about reaffirming our commitment to each other after tonight,” Jordan said after one breakout session. 

Kara Ripplinger said after the celebration she’s committed to herself to plan date activities in advance. 

“It helps to show that it’s important to you and that you really care,” she said. 

Erik Prestwich said he had so many new dating ideas after attending the celebration. 

One of the presenters in Prestwich’s breakout session gave suggestions on how to generate date ideas. Prestwich said his favorite idea was to fill a jar with slips of papers that have seemingly random words on them. 

“Then each night you want to go on a date, you can draw out a word and use it as a theme for the date, or build a date around that word, whatever it is,” he said. 

Prestwich’s wife, Susan, said she’s excited to try that idea. She said after 28 years of marriage it can be hard to come up with date ideas. 

The couple also attended a class by Bonnie Nielson, a licensed massage therapist, who said she focuses her treatments on positive touch. Susan Prestwich said she learned how massage can bring couples closer together. 

“There’s so much to learn about being a couple,” Susan said. “It’s something you have to continually keep working on.” 

Randy Chatelain, a marriage and family therapist who recently retired as an associate professor of family relations at Weber State, finished the nightly festivities with a keynote speech titled, “Play: The Secret Ingredient to the Best Marriage Ever!”

Chatelain gave personable advice in a comedic way to help couples learn how to “avoid being boring,” Bushman said. 

“If people told me they wouldn’t be able to come to all the Date Your Mate events, I’d tell them to come see Chatelain’s, because he really knows how to engage an audience,” Bushman said. 

Bushman said there’s a possibility that Chatelain will be back for the celebration next year. The Utah State University Extension is already beginning to plan for that event. More information about the 2017 Date Your Mate Celebration will be posted on the Extension’s website as it become available.