Relationship Advice for Couples - The best relationship advice ever

Relationship Advice for Couples: The best relationship advice ever!

Relationship advice for couples is everywhere. All couples have opinions about what works. However, not all relationship wisdom is created equal. Offering advice isn’t something we take lightly, especially when suggesting what might be the best relationship advice ever!

So, what is the best couples’ advice around? The answer may surprise you! But before diving in, first, we need to establish some criteria. Just know, we promise not to keep you in suspense for long. 

Keep reading and see if you agree. Because this is certainly the best relationship advice, Jenny and I ever received! 

Establishing Criteria for the best relationship advice ever. 

As a marriage and family therapist, relationships fascinate me. Geeking out on evidence base research brings me joy. It’s a little weird, but I love it! As the husband to an amazing wife and daddy to five incredible girls, I know just how important relationships are. But research alone is never enough. To fit the criteria for the best relationship advice ever, relationship wisdom has to go beyond mere theory. It must actually work! Fortunately, we’re eager to test new ideas out in our home.

Here are the foundational criteria we established. To be in the runnings for the best relationship advice ever, at least four criteria must be met. The relationship wisdom must be:

  • Research-based.
  • Aligned with Scripture.
  • Validated by yours truly (Meaning it has to work for us).
  • Agreed upon by other couples (In this case, 100+ couples affirmed this relationship wisdom adds massive value to their bond).

While our conclusion is surprisingly simple, it certainly meets the above criteria. And it truly is the best relationship wisdom we know! 

So, What is the best relationship advice for couples ever?  Dive in and find out. Use the table of contents to navigate this post, or read straight through. Either way, we think you’ll find extraordinary value. And if you’re going through a rough patch, this may even save your relationship!

The Best Relationship Advice Ever

If you offered one piece of relationship advice to couples, what would it be?

For my amazing wife Jenny and I, the answer is easy. It’s “Make tiny love-investments daily!”

This wisdom is powerful! Tiny acts of love compound over time, generating exponential growth and creating happiness on part with being a millionaire. If you want proof, then read on. First, we’ll explore the power of tiny investments with The Penny Principle. Then we’ll examine Scripture, and hear what other couples have to say. After that, we’ll share our personal story of love-investments, and compare our conclusion to the evidence-based research.

So grab a cup of coffee, tea, or other favorite beverage. Then, dive in! Discover why making tiny love-investments daily might possibly be the best relationship advice ever!

Tiny Love Investments and The Penny Principle

Imagine a rich uncle offers you a choice between two generous gifts.

  1. You can have one-million dollars today.
  2. Or take a penny a day, doubled every day, for the next thirty days. 

Which offer would you choose?

If you’ve heard this illustration before (or if you’re really good at math) then you know to take the penny. Although it’s the right choice, it’s also shockingly deceptive. Here’s why.

The gift of a penny a day, doubled every day, for thirty days, starts small.

  • On the first day, you’re given $0.01.
  • The next day that amount doubles. But you still only receive $0.02.
  • Following this pattern, you receive $0.04 on day three and $0.08 on day four.

The gift of a penny a day doubled every day starts small. But as we will see, it grows exponentially over time. And this is precisely why making tiny love-investments daily is the best relationship advice we know. In relationships, the little things are big things. Small acts of love that seem insignificant at first compound over and over again.

Don’t worry, we’ll return to our penny metaphor in a moment, fully explaining why taking that penny is the best choice. But first, let’s examine why wise couples pay attention to tiny moments of connection in their bond.

Small Things and Scripture

Scripture validates the value of small things. Zechariah 4:10 says, 

Do not despise these small beginnings.

Although this passage isn’t speaking specifically to couples, wise couples follow this advice. It’s often the little things that draw a couple together, and the little things keep a couple together too. It’s often said, the things you did to attract your spouse are the same things you should do to keep your spouse. Over a hundred couples have confirmed this wisdom rings true.

So what draws and keeps a couple together. Let’s explore that next. The answers might be smaller than you think!

Couples Advice: How do you know you are in love?

“In relationships, the little things are the big things.” This is a favorite saying in our iThrive Community. When we asked couples How do you know you are in love? Jenny and I were astounded by the reply. Well over 100 couples sent in their answers. What we ended up with was an extensive list of tiny but meaningful love habits. Here’s what a few couples said:

  • We enjoy spending time together.
  • We watch movies together.
  • The two of us laugh often.
  • We’re so connected we finish each other’s sentences.
  • We talk about everything.
  • God is at the center of our lives.
  • We cook together, share food, and swap plates at restaurants. 
  • Understanding and empathy are present in our bond.
  • We feel in synch.
  • We’re affectionate.
  • Physical touch and sex bring us joy.
  • There is peace in our home.
  • Serving, praying, and planning together are what we love to do. 

And the list goes on!

Are you surprised by these answers?

We were! Jenny and I thought couples might provide grandiose examples of love. Instead, they affirmed it’s the littles thing that makes the biggest difference.

Looking back on our relationship, Jenny and I see this is true for us too. We can attest that great things do, indeed, have small beginnings. But before diving into our story, let’s finish our story of The Penny Principle and see why making small love-investments regularly really is the best relationship advice!

Relationship Advice for Couples and Compounded Love

The Penny Principle illustrates the power of compound interest. But it’s equally relevant for couples because love also compounds. Now, let’s return to our penny metaphor and see how the compound effect works.

The Power of The Penny Principle Explained

So far, we’ve seen that if you chose the gift of a penny a day, doubled every day, on day three, you’d receive $0.04. By day 15, you’re probably feeling frustrated. After all, you’d only get $163.84 that day. When added to what you were gifted on previous days, your grand total is a mere $327.67.

Needless to say, this pales in comparison to the million-dollar gift you could have chosen. By now, you’re probably mentally beating yourself up. But not so fast! Because if you’re patient for a little longer, this gets exhilarating.

Fast-forward a bit. If you accepted the gift of a penny a day doubled for 30 days, on day 27, you’d receive $671,088.64. This is exciting because when this doubles tomorrow, you’ll receive well over a million dollars. And there are still two days left! On day 30, you’ll receive $5,368,709.02. And if you add this to what you collected on the previous days, the grand total of a penny a day doubled for 30 days is $10,737,418.23.

Wow! That’s over 10 times the amount of the other gift! And it’s astounding exponential growth.

For an exact breakdown of how The Penny Principle works, click here.

You might wonder, Jed, how is this the best relationship advice for couples? This sounds like investment wisdom. Trust me and keep reading. Next, we’ll demonstrate how love compounds too!

The Best Relationship Advice Ever: How Love Compounds

Did you know love compounds?

It’s true. Just like the penny illustration, a single act of love is rarely a single act.

According to Object Relations Theory, human beings internalize people and objects. Picture a child with a favorite stuffed animal, or an adult with a best friend. When upset, the mere thought of this person or thing brings relief.

Love works the same way. We internalize love and play back kind acts in our minds, over and over again. This is how love compounds.

If you don’t understand yet, it’s OK. We”ll explain exactly how this works in our relationships, when we she the story of our first date.

Compound Love Made Easy

Here are a few other ways we know love compounds. When we asked How do you know you are in love? couples easily recalled favorite memories with their partner. Chances are, you do this too. This is when the compound effect works. These tiny acts of love occurred in the past. Yet, by reflecting on previous acts, couples feel loved today.

In short, human beings internalize love. Small acts of kindness replay in our minds again and again. Like the penny in our illustration, love compounds too!

Simple acts of love echo in our partner’s minds for years to come. This was certainly true for Jenny and me. Here is our story. It’s how we know making tiny love-investments daily truly is the best relationship advice ever!

The Best Relationship Advice Ever: Our Penny Investment Story

We believe making tiny love-investments daily is the best relationship advice for couples because we live this. Our marriage is proof! A small investment of kindness that began on our first date continues to compound over a decade later. The two of us have, indeed, discovered the power of exponential love!

Here’s our story:

Our relationship started simply. Jenny and I met through an online dating site. And our first date took place at Village Pizzeria—a tiny restaurant with a breathtaking view of Coronado bay. The first time I saw Jenny, I thought to myself, Wow, thank you, eHarmony! Jenny had a sweet smile. She laughed at my jokes and her compassion for others was obvious from the start.

But what I remember most is what happened after dinner.

Eager to spend more time together, I asked Jenny if she was up for a walk. She said, “yes” and my heart skipped a beat.

An Epic First Date Fail!

As the two of us strolled along the bay, it seemed like the perfect eventing—that is, until the sun set. The evening chill set in fast, and I didn’t ask Jenny to bring a jacket. This was my epic first date fail!

When I noticed my date shiver, I asked if she wanted to turn back. As much as I enjoyed our time together, I also didn’t want her to freeze. “No, I’m fine,” Jenny sweetly replied, and the two of us kept walking. However, a few minutes later, I saw goosebumps running up and down Jenny’s arms. So, I asked if she wanted to turn back a second time. Jenny again confirmed she was fine.

When I glanced over a third time, Jenny was not only shivering and covered with goosebumps, I’m pretty sure she was turning blue too.

This time, when I asked Jenny if she wanted to turn back, she replied with firm determination. “No, I’m fine. Let’s keep walking.” Jenny’s resolve let me know there was no need to ask again. At that moment, I understood two things:

  • First, Jenny was freezing (although it was another two years before she would admit this).
  • Second, my date wanted to spend time with me more than she wanted to not be cold.

After our date was over, I couldn’t stop thinking about this amazing woman. She was cute, kind, tough, and wanted to spend time with me!

Relationship Advice for Couples and The Compound Effect

Over a decade passed since Jenny braved the cold so we could spend time together. I’ve told this story many times. And I’ve thought about that moment even more. Each time I reflect on this, Jenny’s love-investment grows. This is the compounding effect of love in action. On our first date, Jenny showed a simple act of kindness that has been re-lived by me time and again.

For the happiest of couples, small acts of love compound like money in a 401k account. They are added to new acts of love, thus, growing exponentially over time.

This is why making small love-investments daily is the best relationship advice ever. Tiny acts of love, performed consistently, generates exponential growth!

The Best Relationship Advice Ever and Science

But don’t just take my word for this. Relationship science confirms that making small love-investments really might be the best relationship advice! Expert, John Gottman, has observed over a hundred couples in his love lab. He and his team carefully code the fine details of each interaction. As a result, they produced a simple formula for relationship success. John’s system is so refined that he is able to predict with an astounding 96% accuracy which relationships will succeed and which will fail after observing a couple for only five minutes.

Here is one astounding discovery John and his team made that validates the power of tiny acts of love. According to John, happy stable couples have 5 positive interactions for every negative one. This 5/1 ratio is another reason applying The Penny Principle to your bond is such powerful relationship advice. According to Gottman, conflict is inevitable. It’s not the absence of conflict that makes or breaks a relationship. Instead, it’s a persistent love that makes the difference. Gottman says,

The difference between happy and unhappy couples is the balance between positive and negative interactions during conflict. There is a very specific ratio that makes love last. That “magic ratio” is 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy marriage has five (or more) positive interactions.

– John Gottman

How to Have a 5 Million Dollar Marriage

The best relationship advice ever is to make small love deposits daily. These love-investments compound over time and generate exponential growth. Just as a penny a day doubled for 30 days increases to over 5-million dollars, tiny love-investments bring millions of dollars in happiness. I know this from my own personal experience. But if this isn’t sufficient, the research confirms this fact!

A unique British study conducted in 2004 discovered how to assign a dollar amount to relational happiness.

Here’s the fascinating results and what we learned about relationships:

  • Engaging in sexual activity with a partner once a week created a happiness equivalent of a $50,000 raise.
  • A stable marriage with regular sexual activity boosted happiness to the tune of $100,000 a year.
  • On the other hand, the pain of divorce is equivalent to losing $66,000 in annual income. Add this to the actual cost of a divorce, (which averages $15,000 but can cost as much as 3.8 billion dollars), and the sum is quite hefty!

This means happy couples, who make love-investments daily and celebrate their golden anniversary together, literally have a 5 million dollar marriage. Here’s the math: $100,000 in happiness a year x 50 years = $5,000,000 in marital bliss. Isn’t that astounding!

The Best Advice for Couples Simplified

Let’s recap. What’s the best advice for couples? According to relational science, our personal experience, and a poll of 100+ couples, the best relationship advice ever is Make tiny love deposits into your relationship daily. These love-investments compound, generating exponential relationship growth and happiness. Truly, in relationships, the little things are the big things!

So don’t wait to invest in your bond. Start now! Here’s how:

The Love-Bank Metaphore

First, picture your partner with an internal love-bank. Every interaction either results in a love-bank deposit or a love-bank withdrawal. Much like a typical savings account, the goal is building a healthy balance and to never go in the negative.

Love-bank deposits only take a minute. A kind word, soft smile, a warm embrace, or simply being curious about your partners inner-world all add to Gottman’s magic ratio of 5 positive intersections to every negative one. These simple acts resonate in your loved one’s heart and mind, accruing interest over time. As the studies show, happy interactions lead to being a happy couple and make a couple feel rich!

This is why, when it comes to relationship advice four couples, making tiny love-investments daily truly is the best relationship advice we know!

Resources for Couples

Are you looking for more, powerful relationship advice for couples? Here are some excellent resources:

  • His Needs, Her Needs: For additional insights into filling your partner’s love-bank, check out the book, His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage. It’s where I first came across the idea of the love-bank.
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: Another excellent resource for couples is John Gottman’s book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. Gottman suggests the way to keep a relationship strong is to make frequent and consistent love-investments. His research shows the investment frequency, not the size of the love deposit, matters most. This book is packed with an abundance of research-based relationship wisdom!
  • The Five Love Languages: This mega-bestseller by Gary Chapman is an easy read. It will help you super-charge your love-bank deposits by speaking your spouse’s love language.
  • 131 Creative Conversations for Couples: Start making love-investments fast with this relationship book written by yous truly. Jenny and I had so much fun going through a conversation staters book before we married that we wrote a few conversation starters books of our own. You can get your copy here: 131 Creative Conversations for Couples.

Diving Deeper

To dive deeper into the best relationship advice ever, use the questions below for further reflection and discussion.

In putting this relationship advice for couples to work, the best time to start was yesterday. The second best time to act is now! Jenny and I encourage you to dive in. The two of us are on this journey with you and are cheering you on 100 percent. We read every comment and would love to hear what you have to say!

Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

22 thoughts on “Relationship Advice for Couples: The best relationship advice ever!”

  1. Jed,

    This is great advice. I call the million dollar investment the
    flash-bang. Its flashy, dreamy, and exciting. Then it is over. You get back to 9-5 and everything goes back to they
    way it was. It just seems like you step out of reality for a few days
    and then return to the grind. I love vacations but prefer mini-vacations
    across the year. These are small investments of time that allow us to
    re-connect more often. The ups and downs start to level out and
    stabilize. Just doing small things does add up over time and serves as
    compounding interest. You get to refresh, stay current and relevant. I
    also get to dedicate quality time to the most important person in my
    life. My spouse.

    1. Great insights Kirby! Our family loves those mini-vacations too. We visit my wife’s grandparents in Arizona a few times each year, among a number of other smaller trips. It is amazing how much difference a change of scenery and change of pace can make. Jenny and I were looking at our photo albums from the past few years, and realized these short outings are where we from many of our favorite memories. Do you guys have any favorite mini-vacation spots?

      1. We always love going back and seeing friends and family in Kansas City since we transplanted from KC to Wash DC. Since my parents retired and live in Savannah, GA. Tybee Island is a fun place to go the last few years. We also enjoyed out time going to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We also spend some time in the mountains in Shenandoah Valley a couple times a year.

        1. That’s fun. We enjoy doing the hiking & camping types of activities too–although not nearly as often as we would like 🙂

          I just saw your FB post with the baby backpack picture. Those are so great for making memories too! All three of my girls loved riding in those. They must be pretty comfortable as they will usually fall asleep. It sound & looks like you guys are making some awesome memories!

  2. Since I see Kirby has already joined in, I’ll put it this way: I’d much rather have the weekly mattresses-on-the-floor sleepovers than a once-a-year cruise.

    I think it’s also important to note that we are not the only one’s who may be making withdrawals from someone’s love bank. We might be nice as pie. But the rigors of grad school, a too-demanding boss, family drama that doesn’t involve us – it can all take a toll on someone. And those are great times for putting in some “extra pennies.” (Actually, what time isn’t, really?)

    1. Great insights Erik! I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s so true. The pressures of life can be reasons a person might value & even need extra love bank deposits. I know this is true in my life too 🙂

  3. Hey, Jed!

    I’m a fan of the love bank! I’m fortunate to work from home, and my wife is home too. I like to take breaks from my office and flirt, give her a hug, or listen to her tell me what she’s been doing. She also loves gardening, so I’ve learned that spending some time with her among the vegetables and flowers is an easy way to make deposits in her bank.

    1. These are all such great ways to make deposits. It’s amazing how much positive momentum little acts of love can bring. That’s awesome that you get to work from home–its a future aspiration of mine too. I’m curious, what kind of work do you do?

      1. I’m a licensed clinical social worker directing clinical quality management programs and accreditation for a national behavioral health services company.

  4. I really don’t like relating personal relationships to money but I do understand the principle. In fact I’m going to take something from this and write down all those little things that have made my relationship special. I think of them often but it would be nice to write them down.

    1. Hey Anne, even though the metaphor’s not your favorite, I’m glad this relationship advice post was still helpful. Thanks for stopping by, and I love your takeaway of writing down all the things that make your relationship special. That is powerful!

  5. I agree that it’s definitely the little things that make a marriage stronger (or break it). Those little loving moments add up a lot over the course of the day, week and year. Building up that “love balance” also makes a big difference when faced with tough moments too. #WotW

  6. Great advice! (And I appreciate the criteria for finding the “best” advice too.) All of my childhood, my mom had a poem hanging in our house. “The little things are most worthwhile, a quiet word, a look, a smile. A listening ear that’s quick to share another’s thoughts, another’s cares. Although they sometimes seem quite small, the little things mean most of all.” I was blessed to watch my parents live that and thrive. We really do build a habit of loving well through the little choices we make. Have a great week Jed!

  7. Great advice, so many nuggets for dating and marriage. I love the story of your wife being cold on the first date! My kids are dating now and these tips are so important for them to understand as they chose a mate. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Jed, such great advice here, and I appreciate the criteria you used to determine what was the best marriage advice ever. When each person in the marriage finds those ways to share love in small, consistent ways, the relationship strengthens. My husband has been amazing at showing me this, and hopefully, I’ve done the same for him. We’ll be celebrating twenty-five years in a few months.

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