What Happened When I Took My Wife on Our Second First Date

Written by: Joe Medler

It’s strange to sit across from a person you clearly love, whom you’re clearly committed to and realize that you’ve forgotten how to be alone with them. I mean, how can you be uncomfortable with a person with whom you have an open-door bathroom policy, whom you have a nearly decade-old conversation going with?

I’ll tell you how. Have kids and don’t even pretend to take care of yourself. Fall so head-over-heels in love with your kids that you lose all sense of reason and balance. It is as unhealthy as it sounds. My wife and I made not even a passing attempt at fooling ourselves. The last time we were on a date, one with drinks and hopes of romance, we were entirely different people.

Our lives had been taken over by kids and we gave up our other identities long ago.

When it finally came around last weekend, our first true date in four years, we were woefully unprepared to let the shoulders down. We’d captured romance in the wild from time to time in the years since, and we are as solid as solid can be. She is the love of my life and I’m perfectly comfortable stating that I’m the love of her life. But there was the giant elephant that trampled our previous selves and left us with some work to do.

We found ourselves across from one another in a quiet restaurant chosen by our former selves — two people full of ideas and interests, eagerly and enthusiastically looking to share and listen to this person we wanted to impress. Those previous selves, while still in their same shells, were gone. All we could think of was the kids. We both wanted this to be about something else, but what else is there? At this point, they weren’t only our beloved children, they were also our only context for a relationship.

It was uncomfortable. The restaurant didn’t even serve alcohol so we couldn’t loosen up chemically in hopes to spark things. Nope. Just blank stares, apologies for everything, unable to get out of each other’s way. It was awkward and painful. In fact, by the time our server came to our table we had already decided to order a ridiculously overpriced appetizer, woof it down and get out of their as soon as possible. Which is exactly what we did.

We moved on to a pub with loud music, sports on the TV’s, and 50 or so adventurous and ordinary beers on tap. It was the best thing we could have done. We both started to unwind. We ordered french fries and onion rings. And we removed the unwritten rule that we had imposed about not talking about the kids.  In a matter of minutes, our shoulders relaxed and we started delighting in making one another laugh. Some of the laughter was about the kids, some of it was about our own foibles.

Some of it was about what was occurring in the room — in the moment. It was a delight. It was natural and easy. Before long we were up to our old tricks. We welled up and we cracked up and we felt a giant spark and shared excitement.

Then we started to cop to our general difficulties. It was midwinter and the combination of cabin fever, short days and freezing cold had made us both hard to be around from time to time. Not to mention the daily challenges of raising the boys. We haven’t always been fair and loving to one another, and it did us both some good to admit it and to be relieved of some of the responsibility for it by the other helping to carry the load.

It was our second first date, one in which we learned many things. And while we still have much more to learn, what’s becoming clear to me, and I think to us, is that we have to do some work on our own at this point. Each of us on our own have to think about how we want to engage the world around us and who we are each going to be as we slowly get out from under the crushing awesomeness of new parenthood. We have to share our new ideas and new dreams of the future with one another, as many of the parameters have changed in the years since we related to each other what those dreams originally were.

We have to discover ourselves again.

We get to discover each other again.

I fell in love with my wife almost instantly when we met. We were married a year and a half later and we were parents 2 years after that. What’s happened since has changed us and we have to take time to remember those people that we were. The wonderful thing is that I get to do it all over again. At this stage of the game, there’s nothing that holds so much excitement as getting the chance to fall in love all over again with the woman I love more than anything.


 About the Author: Joe Medler lives  in New Jersey with his wife, who is  universally understood to be far too  good for him, and his two young sons,  who are far too smart for him. His work has been featured on MamaLode, and Sammiches and Psych Meds. You can find more of his work at developingdad.com and follow him on Facebook.

About The Author


Mary Katherine is a southerner, born and raised. Growing up in Alabama, she developed an affinity for lightning bugs, sweet tea, playing guitar, and having strong opinions. She's happily married with a son (Nugget) and two fur babies. Fun facts: MK is a living kidney donor, speaks a little Thai, and has written two novels.


  1. I can very much relate and remember the first time my husband and I went out sans kids for the first time after we had them. Definitely takes some time getting used to, but totally worth it 😉

  2. I loved this. It’s so true that in your heads you think that talking about the kids is a bad thing if you spend time together without them, but in reality it’s sometimes the only time you have to just talk w.o interruptions and breathe!! Thanks for sharing. Reminds me that we’re kind of normal(ish) over here, too. 😉

  3. Great post, Joe! It sounds like you handled the second first date correctly in recognizing the work that needs to be done. As a new empty nester, I can tell you that it is a blast getting to know the love of your life all over again. There is no question that in our case, we acknowledged that the kids zapped our energy and looked forward to time alone. Now, we are having so much fun ‘dating’ again and focusing on each other yet enjoying the time we have when our kids come home. 🙂

  4. We become whole new versions of ourselves once kids and years of experiences come into the picture, don’t we?! Some days that’s exciting, and other days that’s exhausting–but if you have a partner you respect, value, and choose each day to love, I think it ends up all being OK. Great post!

  5. What a beautiful truth, and a great example of faith in a promise:) It takes work. I’m happy for you, my friend:)

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