I have long held the belief that the hardest part about living with your partner is, well, living with your partner. And one of the three experts on Married at First Sight Season 9, basically confirmed my theory in a phone interview ahead of the new season premiere. New Married at First Sight expert, psychotherapist Dr. Viviana Coles, says the couples had a lot of the same issues she sees in her private practice clients — one of those being learning to live with another person.
Of course, in this situation, the couples have no loving foundation to fall back on. On the show, couples are set up by a team of relationship experts that include Coles, Pastor Calvin Robertson, and Dr. Pepper Schwartz. They are then introduced to one another on their wedding day and for the next eight weeks must attempt to live as a real life married couple.
So on the show, instead of compromising on dishwasher loading styles for the sake of a person you love, you're supposed to learn to love somebody who, for example, throws their socks at the laundry hamper at the end of the day but always misses and then just leaves them lying on the floor in front of the hamper for days (this is a hypothetical scenario).
We kind of take it for granted that people will figure it out when it comes to moving in together; that they’ll each find their own space, and their own space to retreat for “me time,” or that they’ll be able to kind of reconcile the way that they clean or don’t clean, the amount of time that they spend away from the house, or even just the amount of time that they spend eating at home.
But especially if you're an adult who has lived alone, this is a lot easier said than done. And, big surprise, it caused a lot of issues with the Married at First Sight couples.
However, learning to live with each other may not have been the participants' biggest worry going into this. Especially after watching the chemistry-less horror show that was Kate and Luke in Season 8 of Married at First Sight, I know I would be extremely anxious that my mystery spouse find me physically attractive. Heck, that's my main concern when I'm on internet dates. But Coles says physical attractiveness barely ranks on her list of important factors for a successful marriage.
"Physical attraction can change over time," she points out first of all, mentioning that people go through all kinds of physical changes in their life like illness, weight change, pregnancy, etc. She also mentions that compatibility in general can alter your perception of people, including how much you want to jump their bones. "There is an emotional attraction and a psychological attraction and an intellectual attraction that can happen that all of a sudden makes you look at somebody and say, 'Hm, I never knew I would be into brunettes,' or, 'I never knew I would be into somebody with freckles.'"
As for specifics with the four couples she helped match, she tells me she wasn't there for their private conversations so she can't say who felt a spark right away and who did not.
So while she doesn't know for sure who got all bow chicka wow wow right away, she does say the couples who were most successful in this experiment were the ones who followed the experts' advice and took the experiment seriously.
The thing is, as far as reality TV dating shows go, Married at First Sight has a pretty good track record actually. Several former participants are still happily married with kids now. All I'm saying is maybe we should all be paying more attention to what these experts are saying.
Married at First Sight airs Wednesday nights on Lifetime at 8:30 p.m. ET.