By Gary Krane
I came about developing CoupleWise out of my own painful divorce. It was especially painful, because I was completely blindsided, thinking all along that my wife at the time was happy with me and our marriage. When I got into bed one night, and she announced she wanted a separation, I was totally stunned. In the course of a week, being a former investigative journalist, I discovered she was having a secret affair. I was devastated.
I later discovered that about 25% of men and 20% of women are blindsided. So if my math is right, about half of all divorces involves someone being blindsided. When I went to a divorce support group, and heard the stories of everyone else, all of them parents, I actually began to feel lucky. Fortunately, we had no kids. The impact upon an adult is hard enough, and then to have your own child suffer through it as well; it would have been that much more crippling for me.
(In case you’re wondering, why no kids: I got married rather late, and when I was younger and thought more seriously about having kids, it was the 80s and height of the cold war, and I was then obsessed as a filmmaker with using all my time and energy to prevent nuclear war: I felt that I would be doing a greater service, if I could save the lives of millions of kids, rather than to take on raising one or two of my own. (Why not do both, you might be asking? I wanted to be honest with myself, and I felt that the life of an independent filmmaker would be too difficult to let me also be a good father.)
Though my doctorate was in Educational Psychology, I had until then no serious interest in marriage therapy. I had gone into Educational Psychology out of a passion to change the educational system for kids. In retrospect, however, it was also out of a passion for creating a completely different kind of educational experience, which is what I realize I am still up to, in creating CoupleWise.
However, in my pain, I became obsessed with reading all I could about marriage therapy; to discover at first what I could do to maybe save my marriage, and when I discovered that when a woman has an affair (unlike a man), the odds are pretty close to zero, you can get her back, I became much more interested in how to get it right the next time.
So I began reading all I could about what I could have done and should do next time around to have a successful marriage. This went on for almost five years. At the same time I was becoming increasing intrigued with the power of the Internet to help society by empowering ordinary people to organize and therefore to gain power (examples on the center left being MoveOn, and on the far right, TheTeaParty). I had become a filmmaker, after all, out of a desire to use media to create an educational experience that would lead to empowering people to create social change.
Then one day, it hit me: Why couldn’t we use the Internet to do many of the things, maybe most of the things, I was reading about that were working to help couples turn around and save their marriages/committed relationships?
I was seeing how it was possible for an Internet application to be individualized to the needs of the individual user, so why not the individual couple? I knew from my readings about marriage therapy and my own experience with marriage therapists, that almost everything they do could be done via the Internet. From reading the best research on the predictors of long lasting happy marriage, I was clear what couples need to learn to succeed. So why not proceed? I became obsessed with doing so.
When I learned how the genius of the internet is it’s ability to tap the wisdom of crowds, I realized that CoupleWise could be a way to tap “The wisdom of the best therapists and also the wisest couples.” Though I had learned a thing or two from my own pain, I knew from the start that it certainly was not going to be a site about whatever I now know or think, especially not being a guy who has yet had a long lasting happy marriage!
Little did i know that not being a programmer myself–my biggest mistake, I would proceed to for the next 5 years to make about every mistake a non programmer CEO can make in starting an Internet company.