My first big job there was redesigning the company’s flagship app, The Knot Wedding Planner, which helps the majority of couples in America plan weddings. Every week, like clockwork, I’d interview new couples about their wedding planning journey to make sure I was focusing on the right problems.
Frankly, I loved talking with these couples (I was engaged, too). I enjoyed listening to the story of how they met; how they went about finding a DJ; how they created the guest list; why they fought about the guest list; but mostly, I enjoyed learning about their relationships, why they were getting married, and what their expectations were.
And unexpectedly, out of these interviews I uncovered a much larger problem: the marital expectations of America were way off.
Around the same time, I met up with my colleagues at The Bump, the leading app for first-time moms. It turns out they were also seeing a huge number of relationship struggles. In fact, the top questions from The Bump community all related to what relationships are like after Baby comes into the picture, with the majority of couples experiencing dips in marital satisfaction.
All of these findings led me to believe that the vast majority of couples underestimate the work it takes to maintain a healthy, happy relationship. And even many committed couples don’t know what truly makes a marriage healthy. Perhaps this is why, according to Dr. John Gottman, half of all divorces happen early on, in the first seven years of marriage.
In the Summer of 2016, I transitioned into a new role as XO Group’s first Entrepreneur-in-Residence to explore if it was possible to invent a new approach to marriage counseling and help the couples we were already serving. During that time, I synthesized 300+ longitudinal studies (selecting the most-replicated 126), interviewed dozens of marriage therapists, and prototyped nine different products.
This is probably oversimplifying it, but at a high level, here’s the most important thing I learned in this phase about the scientific process of relationships:
In the beginning, intentionally working on your relationship comes easily and feels natural. Partners appreciate one another’s character, personality, passion, attractiveness, and the special oddities that only they know about. In all relationships, as time passes, both partners begin to take one another for granted in small ways. It’s common for affection, curiosity, and appreciation to lose steam over time.
That’s why, contrary to popular belief, relationships aren’t about feeling happy, but about being vulnerable and learning how to connect with, commit to, and sacrifice for one another. That’s why it’s so easy for a relationship to feel “stuck”—because those things are hard!
The only answer is choosing to love, every day, by being emotionally vulnerable with your partner. The process of being vulnerable, revealing your emotional world, and being responsive to each other is more important than the actual outcome of any situation because it fuels lasting trust in one another.
And that’s how we designed the Lasting app (the one prototype that beat all the others by a long shot): as a simple tool that unlocks connection and vulnerability in your relationship. It’s become America’s no. 1 relationship counseling app.
Through this product, we believe that we can make the process of counseling dramatically more accessible and, therefore, make working on your marriage a cultural expectation in our time.
That’s also why we’re excited to announce our new #GiveLastingLove campaign (watch our video!).
While many types of couples are at risk for divorce, those with the highest risk are low-income families, who typically have greater relationship strain and less access to the right relationship resources. As a part of #GiveLastingLove, in the month of February, for every couple that subscribes to Lasting, we’ll donate a subscription to a couple who otherwise couldn’t access marriage counseling. That means, as you strengthen your own relationship, you’re also strengthening relationships across America.
Download Lasting today, and #GiveLastingLove.
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