“You have nothing to lose; everything to gain,” boasted Ryan and Jaclyn, a couple on Lifetime’s Married at First Sight.
The pair, along with their fellow Boston and Boston-adjacent cast mates, had an extremely odd way of framing their Married at First Sight experience, but, after all, they had just done exactly what the show’s name implies: They had met at the alter and, following the requisite giggling and awkward posturing in front of their respective extended families, gotten married.
Perhaps “you have potential future divorce lawyer fees to lose; everything to gain” would have been more accurate.
Still, I’m rooting for the season six couples to make it work. But even if they can’t, their experiences leave some valuable lessons for the rest of us. Below are a few key factors for success from the season so far.
1. Familiarize yourself with the name of the show.
As he so frequently reminds his wife, Jephte doesn’t want “to feel forced or pressured or forced into something.”
Unfortunately for Jephte, he already has been, and on national television, when he married Shawniece immediately after meeting her at the altar.
It’s a little late to worry about “rushing things,” Jephte.
Sure, I understand that marriage doesn’t magically transform a relationship (or lack thereof) into something deeper. I don’t even think it’s time to follow in the footsteps of Bachelor in Paradise’s Grant and Lace with matching tattoos. I do, however, think it would be nice if he put a little effort into pretending that he enjoyed spending time with his new wife. Or if he stopped calling her “stranger-wife.” Given the previews for next week’s episode (which feature Jephte sleeping on the floor as Shawniece sobs about it), he doesn’t seem any closer to coming to terms with his own life decisions.
2. Know what words mean.
The wedding is the easy part (at least when it comes to Married at First Sight couples). Sure, there’s the inevitable person whose family doesn’t approve, driving a little will-they/won’t they drama over whether or not they’ll show up for the ceremony (not-such-a-spoiler: they almost always do). But as the ceremony leads to the reception to a tequila-fueled chicken dance, things generally have a way of working themselves out.
Everything that comes after – from the intense one-on-one time of the honeymoon to finding an apartment and navigating holidays – forms the real meat of the show, and that’s where the panel of “experts” come in.
Of the experts’ many responsibilities, the role of walking dictionary appears to be one of them. They have endless insights into how marriage-related words mean one thing in a normal context, and quite another in the world of the show.
“Usually, the honeymoon is an exotic vacation for two people who know and who love each other,” observed Dr. Pepper, speaking as if she were unveiling some great universal truth. Hopefully, her and her follow experts’ substantive contributions to the couples’ relationships (in the form of getting-to-know-you homework and Skype-based counseling sections) will be slightly more helpful.
3. Retain gainful employment.
One of the first things we learned about Jonathan was that he quit his job to be on the show. If the fact that he chose to marry a stranger on television didn’t already bring his judgment into question, this certainly did.
And while his new wife Molly has been a shockingly good sport about the whole thing, I remain skeptical. If I were going to marry a stranger who immediately required my full financial support, I’d at least want a quick word of warning.
4. Reevaluate your ‘stranger danger’ complex (or not).
Molly harbors an extreme dislike of being touched by strangers. Naturally, the producers sent her and John for a couple’s massage, where she could be touched by strangers while talking to a stranger about why she didn’t like that. And though she certainly has the right to dictate her own boundaries, perhaps one of those boundaries should rightfully have been placed between her and the stranger that she married.
5. Use extreme caution when selecting eyewear.
There’s nothing that says, “I’m here for you, new wife that I just met” like a multi-colored, reflective shield covering half your face.
Ryan may have other problems (as Jaclyn politely puts it, his tendency to talk “hinders his listening”), but I’d place those sweet shades at the very top of the list.
New episodes of Married at First Sight air 9pm ET Tuesday on Lifetime and are available the next day on-demand.