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Things I Learned From Married at First Sight

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Cecelia has researched H.P. Lovecraft and fairy tales. Working with kindergartens, Cecelia became interested in speech development.

Image from Married at First Sight official Facebook

Image from Married at First Sight official Facebook

What is Married at First Sight?

Married at First Sight is a controversial show broadcast on Australian Television roughly once a year. In 2018 it is airing on Channel 9 at 7:30 Pm Monday to Wednesday with 7:00 pm Sunday being a “Commitment Ceremony”. The participants sign up to go through a wedding ceremony with a complete stranger and associate with them for a few weeks until their relationship has reached some sort of conclusion.

I have not followed any overseas versions, I tuned into the first season and was put off by how unlikely the couples seemed. Nevertheless, I watched the finale, where the participants were asked to soul search and explain to their “partner” whether they want to continue the relationship or not. To my surprise, the few compatible looking couples agreed to go their separate ways. One couple, whom I had thought unlikely because of their diverse backgrounds and the female partner’s issues regarding opening up and trust, chose to stay together, and rumour has it this is the ONLY successful couple to emerge from the show so far.

Last year, I did not watch the show at all because I was busy watching the more entertaining “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”, so I only saw bizarre snippets. I promised myself that I would watch Married at First Sight faithfully this year.

1) Some women really do focus on the trimmings and not the relationship.

In the early episodes of each season a number of couples get fake ‘married’. The brides are shown choosing their gowns and the grooms are shown choosing their suits. (No one explains who chose the decorations, the bridesmaids’ dresses, the rings, flowers or venues.) We assume the television station footed the bills for these extravaganza to which both couples invite their families and friends.

The strange thing is: many of the brides describe these weddings as their “dream weddings” despite having no pre-existing relationship with the groom. I would have thought loving the groom ought to be part of the dream?

Even after her relationship with Sean Donnelly had clearly failed and both parties had voted to leave, Jo McPharlin described the wedding as her dream wedding. (Sunday February 18 2018). When Ryan Gallagher is angry with her Davina Rankin is busy describing the wedding as ‘beautiful’ to his mother. (Monday 19 February 2018)

So these women wanted the dress, the party, the cake and flowers more than they wanted the man. Why didn’t they just have a big 21st birthday party? Graduation party? Or celebrate some solid achievement like their job?


2) People believe fiction very easily.

NEWSFLASH – these weddings are not legal! In Australia, the notice of “Intention to get married” must be filled out by both parties with accompanying identification and lodged with the intended celebrant between one year and one month and a day before the wedding. A marriage of strangers is just not possible or legal under Australian law. At one stage, the government was even talking about bringing in up to six compulsory relationship counseling sessions before marriage.

So these marriages are NOT REAL and yet everyone watches their progression with bated breath. Davina Rankin and Dean Wells consider a partner swap on the grounds they may have been severely mismatched by the ‘experts’ and people talk about this as ‘cheating’. Blogs and headlines refer to them as ‘love rats’. They call it an 'affair' themselves during one episode.

The marriage was not real and if they were mismatched, they might well be within their rights organizing a swap. I believe that gossip columnists have spotted two other contestants who are currently being treated abysmally by their on-screen ‘partners’, on a sandy beach somewhere together. Good luck to these two if this has worked out, both were physically attractive and seemed very nice!

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3) Choice is important.

While Davina Rankin has received some bad press for attempting to change husbands on screen, the psychology involved is interesting. When Davina felt she had no part in choosing Ryan, he was not attractive to her and she was desperate to leave him. After the fall out, where Dean has toyed with her feelings and then gone back to onscreen wife Tracey, perhaps Ryan is all Davina has left.

However, there seems to be more to it than this. Davina sees Ryan in his home environment, where she says he walks taller, and generally seems more attractive. Davina is now choosing Ryan and it appears there might be a slight chance for them. This drama has not played itself out yet, but I am keen to see her try to win Ryan back.


4) It is cruel to pair a quiet person with a loud person.

During their break-up at commitment ceremony, Jo attempted to hit Sean with the looks card and imply that he was the bad guy for not liking her looks. However, as a quieter person, I had been on Sean’s team from the very moment the experts said something like ‘they would pair him with Jo because she was more social than him and would draw him out’.

That is not how it works. A quiet person needs time and space in which to be authentic! From the first moment Jo stepped on screen, laughing her loud laugh, and talking non-stop, Sean was intimidated and suppressed.

One of the signs of a good relationship is that the partners, whether they be outgoing or introverted, become comfortable with shared silence. Jo could not bear silence and broke it as often as she could. Only in the final week, when Jo knew that Sean had voted to leave during the previous week, did she allow some silence. This was too little, too late, and only because she was now feeling rejected and unhappy.


5) In general people stay in bad relationships longer than they ought.

In the case of Jo and Sean, the incompatibility was clear even before the minister asked Sean to say ‘I do’. To me, the most honest thing would have been to call off the wedding. Of course, then he might miss an all-expenses-paid trip to Singapore, as well as be abused by the media for ‘not trying’. Jo herself asked why he did not tell her he felt wrong several days into the honeymoon, as this might have allowed herself to prepare for her eventual rejection.

Another case was Troy Delmerge and Ashley Irvin. Troy appeared to be easy going and people pleasing. He perhaps needs to maintain his fitness because of sedentary work in IT (Information Technology). Ashley began to criticise him on the first day of the honeymoon and rejected all his attempts to please her.

It is hard to tell what really happened at times because of all the editing – but Ashley was allowed to demand Troy got his signature locks cut as a sign of love – but no similar request was made to her to cut her expensive artificially enhanced blonde locks? Ashley complained that Troy was always looking in the mirror – but how did her meticulous make-up get onto her face every day if she didn't look into a mirror?

The question remains as to why these couples did not call it quits earlier and in a more honest fashion. On television, there is the obvious incentive of one more week’s participation, fame, publicity and an expense allowance. In real life, there are always things that make us comfortable with our problems and prevent us from taking drastic action to correct relationship mistakes and injustices in a timely fashion.


© 2018 Cecelia

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