Gabby and I have been watching the hit reality TV show, Married at First Sight. I have some thoughts and opinions.
I find this whole show to be quite interesting. I generally hate reality TV; Gabby can’t get enough of the stuff. For the uninitiated, let me explain the plotline: A Christian marriage counselor, a psychologist, and a sexologist (the Experts) get a large group of single people together who wish to be married. The contestants fill out personality quizzes, answer essay questions, are interviewed by the Experts, and eventually have their homes and family dynamics evaluated by the Experts as well. Finally, the Experts whittle the group of several hundred people down to four pairs, eight people, whom they believe would make good husband-wife couples. Here’s the catch: The pairs don’t meet or know anything about the other person until they’re moments away from saying “I do” at the altar.
To paraphrase the show, “It’s a modern twist on arranged marriage.”
After the vows are said, the pairs of people are legally married to each other. They spend the first night together after the wedding in the hotel and are then shipped off to some fancy place for a week-long honeymoon. After the honeymoon festivities, they return home, get housing together, and spend the next 7-ish weeks getting to know each other and attempt to mesh their lives and families with one another.
At the end of the 7-ish weeks, the couples have the option to stay married happily ever after or get a divorce and go their separate ways.
As I said, I find this show quite interesting.
I have a concern that it’s kind of totally commercializing marriage and trivializing divorce. If things don’t go well at the end of the experiment, the couples basically high-five and say, “Good game, bro.” But at the same time, the Experts and couples all treat getting a divorce like the big deal that it really is. For the couples who get divorced, their divorce is still a distressing experience and is repeatedly referred to as a “failed marriage” by everyone.
Married at First Sight’s strong juxtaposition of divorce being both casual and solemn isn’t something I’ve seen very much in other TV shows or movies. As an aside, I’m a little curious how this show would function if no-fault divorce weren’t a thing, but I digress.
I also find it interesting that religious couples always do substantially better than non-religious couples. Smashing two literal strangers together in a legally bound lifelong union is no small feat. There’s often a lot of head-butting between the newlyweds and some of it gets rather ugly…and sometimes it even results in divorce before the end of the 7-week experiment.
Interestingly, much like real life, the religious couples seem to butt heads differently; their bickerments aren’t quite as caustic and they tend to treat each other better in general. They almost seem to have a different perspective on marriage and happiness than the non-religious couples. Gabby and I were talking about this a few nights ago. Our current theory is that since the religious couples (usually Christian) have very similar—if not the same—belief systems (Baptist vs Lutheran), then they already have a common framework to operate on.
If nothing else, Married at First Sight demonstrates just why it’s so important to date and marry someone who shares your values. Much like with traditional date-then-marry relationships, the couples who have a common value and belief systems (religious couples) tend to behave better, care more, show more grace, and seem to be remarkably happier and more functional with each other when compared to the ones who don’t share the same value and belief system or religious commonality.