Date Night With Our +1

“That looks like you, Mommy,” says my eight-year-old with a wide grin on her face, while doing a little window shopping on a family outing in St. Augustine, Florida. “Really now…I knew we should have left you at home,” I say back with an equally large grin. And just like that it hit me: my husband and I really need to get out more…alone.

If there’s one thing we haven’t been good at, it’s making time for date nights. Maybe living in a smaller city has made us home bodies, or maybe we know that we only have a few more quality years until our daughter doesn’t want to hang out with us anymore so we’re trying to soak it all in. Or, maybe we both had our fair share of fun over the years and so it just doesn’t seem that important. Either way, our version of date night usually consists of dinner out with our mini-gourmet by our side.

| Reader note: You can listen now to our podcast about date night |

Don’t get me wrong, I would like us to be that couple that has date night once a week, or enjoys a romantic weekend doing things that grown-ups do when they aren’t coordinating play dates for a highly social, only child. Unfortunately, I can probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve gone out for some quality alone time in the last couple of years. Between Daryl’s self-imposed sobriety, mild “social” anxiety and frequent trips to Lowes and the gym, he is perfectly satisfied with the arrangement. And, I usually have enough work trips and girls nights out to keep my self-identity intact, so it’s not been a big issue for either of us.

In fact, I recently had a girls night out with a friend at a local Gainesville craft brew pub, Crafty Bastards. Another friends’ husband was playing guitar that night, so it was a good excuse to get away from our mommy responsibilities, if only for a few hours. Thanks to a full house, we decided to sit at the bar. A few minutes in, a young man sat next to me. He appeared to be a regular as he chatted casually with the bartenders. Soon he and I were exchanging stories, opinions and harmless banter over a few beers. Before you know it, I felt like I was on a date. The only problem being that it wasn’t with my husband.

Let’s put aside for a moment that the man was nearly half my age, and that I could imagine a giant “word bubble” hanging over my friends heads that read, “please stand back: mid-life crisis in progress.” But, outside of the obvious age difference, it was nice making a new friend. I’ve always enjoyed developing new relationships. It’s only in recent years that my inner social butterfly retreated into a state of hibernation — thanks no doubt to the “M” words: marriage and mommyhood.

When I got home, I shared details of the evening with Daryl. He and I proceeded to laugh and bond over a few stories involving the word cougar. He and I will try again next month for a real date night, but in the meantime, we’ll keep hanging with our + 1.

What do you think? Is going out without your spouse harmless fun and good for a healthy marriage? Or, do you think it’s more akin to playing with fire?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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