I had just gotten to the grocery store with my two kids, but I sat in the car a bit longer to listen. Two radio hosts were discussing something called the 2-2-2 rule, and I was intrigued. Their claims were bold.
Now I’m not saying my marriage isn’t romantic, but my husband and I have been together for 13 years and married for seven of those. We have two kids, are working on more, and have a homestead we run together, all on top of my husband's normal work schedule. What I’m saying is that between the herds of animals and kids, the cleaning, and cooking, the meal prepping, and working, things have lost their…newness. I miss the sparkle everything seemed to have when we were newlyweds. I miss the way I sparkled.
As I listened to those radio hosts, I found myself looking for something I didn’t even realize I had lost, and the 2-2-2 rule seemed like the perfect way to find it again.
So, What Is the 2-2-2 Rule?
Simply put, it’s this:
Every 2 weeks, go out for the evening.
Every 2 months, go out for the weekend.
Every 2 years, go out for a week.
When the rule first surfaced on Reddit in 2015, the redditor claimed he started the rule with his wife on their wedding day. He claims that all this time later, people still ask when the couple’s “honeymoon phase” will end.
It’s honestly a genius little rule with a heap of anecdotal success stories to go with it. I can see why it would work. The thought of intentionally going out every so often with your husband for the sole purpose of putting your relationship in the spotlight instead of the house or the kids or work is the perfect way to stay connected and not let romance get swept under the rug during the business of life. Not to mention, it always makes sure you have something to look forward to and something to share together, other than the daily grind.
Following this rule doesn't have to be difficult or financially draining either. You can make it as elaborate or as simple as you’d like. The whole point of the 2-2-2 rule is to break up routine and combat monotony. So as long as the two of you are doing that, you’re golden. If you have kids, this does mean you need to entrust them to a babysitter/relative/friend from time to time, but again, don’t overthink this. Let’s go over what the rule could look like when put into practice.
When You Can’t Leave the House or Are on a Budget
So say you do have kids, but no caretaker. Implementing this rule will require some extra planning from you, and you won’t really be able to do part two and three of the 2-2-2 rule, but part one is still completely within reach. You could always take the kids with you for the weekend and week getaways, but to me, that kind of violates the spirit of the rule, so let’s just focus on part one.
You’ll have to do all your date nights when the kids are asleep, so this means your dates will always revolve around dinner. The weekend before, work together with your husband to plan what date night meal you both would like to cook together. I recommend picking something special, something you don’t get to eat often, but really enjoy, or, just simply something new and different. The two of you could even take turns cooking and “treating” each other every other date night. Next, come up with a grocery list, and on grocery shopping day, pick up some nice wine, flowers, and candles. The day of, tire the kids out so that you can put them to bed early that evening without a fuss. As soon as everyone’s asleep, make sure to get dressed up to show each other that this is, in fact, a date, and after that, the real fun begins. I’d recommend saving this date night for Friday or Saturday as the two of you may be up late for…various reasons.
If you don’t have time to cook a full dinner after the kids are in bed, see if there’s anything you can prep beforehand to cut down on time. Or, maybe just opt for making a fun dessert. Also, the date doesn't have to be a fancy dinner. You could have a picnic, build a blanket fort and play board/video games, or if you’ve always had a candles and rose petals fantasy, give yourself and your husband that experience. A word of advice though – take the rose petals off the bed before getting into it. They do stain.
If a budget is your only limiting factor, that’s easy to get around. For your dates, just pick inexpensive or free options. This could look like going out for ice cream or dessert together, driving to a specific location and taking a scenic walk, or picking out a rooftop/penthouse bar in the city and, just for the price of two cocktails, enjoying the skyline sunset together.
For your weekend getaway, the outdoorsy options are going to be your best friend. Roughing it in a tent will obviously be your least expensive option (this would allow you to see more scenic locales such as Colorado and Washington), but cabins are also completely affordable in other beautiful (just less well-known) places such as the Ozarks and Appalachia. Drive to your destination, make sure you're able to cook your own meals, and you’ve got yourself an Instagram-worthy weekend away for just a couple hundred bucks.
If the city is more your speed, there are plenty of hotel deals/websites and Airbnbs these days that are able to accommodate all sorts of budgets. You might not be able to stay smack dab in the middle of it all, but with your own transportation, who needs to? Besides, you could always save a splurge like that for the week-long vacation you’ll be taking every two years now anyways.
Speaking of that luxurious week-long trip, the best ways to save money on those are, again, driving your own vehicle (no flights) and cooking most of (if not all) your own meals. Additionally, since it’s a week long, a road trip could be fun too. You could vacation outside your typical radius and see much more than the two of you are accustomed to. Also, this is a vacation you’ve had two years to plan for! That’s plenty of time to save up a little extra to treat yourselves with. Make the trip coincide with a birthday or anniversary, and you’re practically saving money!
Use this as an opportunity to find shared interests with your husband. Use it as a means to get creative and work on all the little facets of your relationship in ways you may not have thought of before. A date doesn't have to just mean dinner. Go to museums, the zoo, an amusement park, mini-golf, the ballet, a play – the possibilities are endless.
If you have more of a budget to work with, the whole world literally opens up. Take motherland trips to explore your genetic heritage as a couple, learn about your roots and grow stronger because of it. Go see that thing you’ve always daydreamed about, eat that food you’ve always wanted to try, and share the whole experience with each other.
More than anything, just be intentional. That’s the foundation this rule is built on. Intentionally spending time together, intentionally getting to know each other in deeper, more meaningful ways. What would you like to learn about your husband? What would you like him to learn about you? Plan outings that center around that connectedness.
A Friendly Word of Caution
These dates are meant to be an avenue to bring you both, as a couple, closer together. So if you find yourselves getting too stressed to meet one “deadline” or another, just take a break. Take some time to figure out where the stress is coming from, what it’s trying to tell you, and work on it. If you can think of a different schedule that would work better for each of you, then do it. The whole truth of the matter is, if the rule is stressing you out, then you’re missing the point, and therefore, the benefits. The objective isn’t to simply do the 2-2-2 rule for the rule’s sake, it’s to bond. If the rule starts to drive a wedge between you and your husband, well… You see what I’m getting at here? All you have to do is reassess and try again later.
When talking about why the rule is causing stress on your relationship though, you do need to be honest. In turn, you need to be open to your husband's honesty as well. If either of you shuts down, or isn’t completely forthcoming about your thoughts and feelings on the conflict, it’ll never be resolved.
At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone has to worry about conflict coming from the implementation of the 2-2-2 rule at all (or at least a substantial amount of it) because if the radio hosts and the internet are right, the 2-2-2 rule has solved a lot of relationship woes, not caused them.
Personally, there are a lot of boutique eateries, scenic views, and specialty lodgings that I want to experience, and I’m sure my husband has his own list as well. I know we won’t agree 100% on everything we do, but I do know it’ll be exciting and memorable all the same because of who I’m with.
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