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My husband and I watch Married At First Sight (MAFS) weekly – trying not to miss an episode. Every fan is affectionately dubbed a MAFS fan, and I love it. It’s so cringe I can’t look away and so raw that we usually end up seeing ourselves in relationships throughout the season.
Mostly they start out shallow and surface level with many guards up and always in their own way, but as the season progresses you see the real fear, love, and desire to be in a committed marriage. The women all gush over the actual day of the wedding and most of the men are in an alternate reality fueled by adrenaline. Each new husband and wife try to take it all in. My husband and I interject with our recounts of our wedding day; how we each had all the nerves, cold sweats, and heart pounding moments even after knowing, dating, and committing to each other for the previous 2 years dating. Each season we recount as the new couples get married and relive our wedding day to talk about what we liked / disliked.
The couples instantly go on honeymoons to get secluded 1:1 time together in some sort of paradise with strategically planned activities and romantic dinners to begin exposing the most basic of differences. MAFS couples don’t have an ounce of trust in the bucket yet. At this point, it’s the idea of love that’s enough for them. My husband and I comment about how our early fights were so minuscule to what we deem argument-worthy now. To have an argument now means we are going to take valuable kid-free time to actively not sleep, not have sex, or not eat a good meal. All in all, the argument better be worth it or we just simply decide love is enough at this moment and move on.
Each week on Wednesday night we assess the TV lives of these couples who decided to get married at first sight. I can’t explain it but it creates a connection for us, a midweek check-in time when we think and talk about us as we watch seemingly dumpster fires of relationships play out.
We critique the fights and judge from the vantage point of hindsight. Many of the arguments between the tv couples are rooted in childhood traumas and insecurities the other spouse has no understanding of. This is hard to watch because we all have this issue, my husband and I included.
Personally, we are big fans of therapy. My husband and I were in counseling individually before we even began dating and have continued it well into our marriage. I wrote about how I make it part of our postpartum care here.
Only when you learn your love languages (and the root of them) do you start to truly speak to each other in caring and understanding ways, and even then, you don’t always get it right.
Communicating is hard, and learning to speak another love language only adds to the challenge. With only 8 weeks to decide if these MAFS couples will stay legally married or get legally divorced, they move in together and are guided through many of the major conversations (kids, money, career plans) by relationship experts. At the end of the 8 weeks, we place our bets on which couples stay together and which couples call it quits – the finale is a nerve-wracking episode for those of us fully invested. Historically, the show has had some major marriage success. You can find it on HULU or Netflix to see for yourself.
What other cringe binge shows are you watching? I am well aware of the loyal following of the Real Housewives of (Insert: Every Major City) and have it slotted for when MAFS is over.