Marriage help: Made to order

Power of Two has been working hard over the last many months to follow the entrepreneurial theories of Customer Development (see Professor Steve Blank, and Lean Startups (Eric Ries,  I first heard about Customer Development when I took Steve’s course at the Haas Business School at UC Berkeley while completing my MBA.

If you haven’t heard of it, the theory is basically this:  focus on understanding your customers and their problems.  Let them be the judge of what’s valuable and what’s not.

We talk to our members everyday to learn how to fulfill our mission of helping the millions of couples who want a better marriage.

If you’re one of our members, perhaps you’ve spoken with me?  If not and you’d like to tell me your thoughts, please call me: 877.411.4948.

I thought in this post, I’d try to summarize some of what we’ve learned.

1. Many couples are looking for an alternative to traditional therapy for any of the following reasons:

  • They’ve had bad experiences with in-person therapy in the past.  (It’s hard to believe how many so-called couple’s counselors seem to make things worse, not better.)
  • They find scheduling time with a therapist too difficult.
  • They can’t afford or don’t want to pay the thousands of dollars in-person therapy costs.
  • One or both of the partners in a couple cares about their privacy and feels uncomfortable bringing a third party into their relationship.

2. One person’s looking for help before their partner is ready.

It’s amazing how often one person wants outside help and their partner doesn’t.  Interestingly though – it’s about 50-50 whether it’s the man or the woman.

For a while we were experimenting with teaching live-online workshops.  When we spoke with potential customers, the conversation would often go like this:  “Great!  This is exactly the sort of program I’ve been looking for.  Let me just talk it over with my husband (or wife).”  And then… they’d never call back.  When we’d reach out to find out what happened, they’d say, “my partner wants to work on it ourselves for a while first.”

Even though the live workshops worked well to deliver our content, they were broken in that they weren’t really designed for individuals.  Here’s the good thing though:  most of the Power of Two skills are effective even when only one person is using them.  (Btw – that’s why so many of our members say the program is having a huge impact on their success at work as well.  They’re communicating better with their colleagues, managers, and employees.)

In designing the membership program we paid particular attention to designing the program for both couples and for individuals who are ready to start making a change in their marriage on their own.

3. Scheduling is hard.  People are busy, busy, busy.

When we were offering the live-online workshop, many of our customers would sign up for the 4-part online workshop (like a live-online marriage retreat), and then not show up for their sessions.  The sessions were expensive too, since we had a live teacher.  And even when we experimented with letting couples choose their own schedules, couples would still miss one or two of the four sessions.

So, we developed the membership site with people’s busy schedules in mind.  You can learn new skills and practice using them anywhere, anytime.  And, we’ve broken down each activity into a small 3-15 minute bite size chunk.  So our members don’t need to set aside 4 hours, like they do for a weekend retreat.  They can learn for 15 min a night before they go to bed, or for 10 minutes during their lunch break at work.

4. Learning a concept is quick.  Changing behavior takes time.

We found with our live-online workshops that couples’ relationships changed dramatically for the first few weeks after the class, and then they’d slowly drift back into their old bad habits.

Other studies of marriage workshops seem to show similar results.  Couples are energized about their new skills when they walk out the door, and then their new skills slowly start gathering dust.

Changing behavior takes time.

We decided that to really affect relationships, our members were going to have to learn the skills, practice them, and incorporate them into their lives over a long period of time – months, not weeks.

Our soon to be published study (currently being edited by the Psychology Master’s Student who conducted the study) showed that couples that used the Power of Two online program for 1 month showed better communication and higher marital satisfaction.  And, the couples that used it for 2 months scored even higher than those that were only given 1 month of access.  And those that completed a full 3 months were even better off again.  This is called a “dosage effect”, and the Power of Two program is the only marriage education program we know of that’s shown such a statistically significant dosage effect.

The conclusion:  marriages take on-going time and effort.  And if the time is spent well, marriages just get better and better.

From our conversations with our members, we know that they appreciate that we’re there with them for the long haul.  When things are good, they sometimes spend a bit less time with the program.  And when things get a little rockier, they come back, refresh their skills, and put themselves back on track.

One last comment: In addition to calling our members to find out how they’re doing, we’ve gone to great lengths to listen to our members from inside the program.  We ask for feedback after every activity, and we read everything our members write.

Please continue to let us know what we can do to help you improve your marriage, and I’ll write another blog post about what we’ve learned in the coming months.

- Jacob

VP of Business Development


  • The key to delivering great marriage help online, is to listen to the people who are looking for the help.

  • What we’ve learned is that our online membership program is a better fit for changing marriages for many people than either traditional therapy or more conventional marriage workshops and marriage retreats.

  • If you have a suggestion, please call me: 877.411.4948.  I actually want to hear what you have to say.


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