In the reality TV show, Married At First Sight (MAFS), six singles put their trust in four experts, Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Joseph Cilona, Sexologist, Dr. Logan Levkoff, Sociologist, Dr. Pepper Schwartz and Spiritual Advisor, Greg Epstein, to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives…that of choosing a spouse.
“I take this responsibility incredibly seriously. This is a legal marriage. If these relationships fail, the only way out is divorce”, said Dr. Logan Levkoff in the season 2 premiere.
From the lens of a viewer, MAFS is so much more than a documentary-style reality TV show. It’s groundbreaking TV at it’s finest. By tuning in, people worldwide learn valuable lessons about relationships, commitment and love. Experts give couples, and ultimately viewers, tools to better communicate, honor and respect one another and navigate through tough times.
Watching with your partner can lead to having honest and courageous conversations about the health of your relationship. Each week, my husband and I get out our notebook and write down key advice from the experts. Whether you are just starting out, have been married for 36 years like us, or anywhere on the spectrum, it’s advice that everyone can use.
Dr. Joseph Cilona:
- Learning to merge single’s lives to a couple’s life is really critical.
- In order for a relationship to develop, it’s important to prioritize work and travel schedules to spend time together.
- Expressing your feelings and being honest and open is important to feeling comfortable with one another.
- Couples need to have a safe place to discuss what’s really going on in their relationship.
- Making a list of trigger words that are “off limits” can help ensure emotional integrity when disagreeing.
- Compromise needs to be done in a way that meets the needs of both individuals.
- If we defend and guard ourselves based on the past, it does not leave room to be open and vulnerable for the future.
- Anger and resentment can be an outward expression of emotion that camouflages deep hurt.
- Making decisions and choices based solely on emotions, causes you to be more reactive rather than thoughtful about the future.
Dr. Logan Levkoff:
- Cohabitation means that you are blending your lives together. Not as two individuals, but creating a totally whole new identity…that of you, as a couple.
- Both people need to hold themselves accountable for their actions and be willing to admit they are responsible for the ups and downs in a relationship.
- Trust is something that is earned. If you don’t trust someone, you’re not going to want to open up that vulnerable side of yourself.
- Talking about finances can be uncomfortable. It’s important to discuss your gender role expectations with respect to finances.
- Many couples have different incomes. The key to navigating through this is to be thoughtful when talking about money.
- Conflict between partners isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We’re different, we don’t always get along, we don’t always agree. The key to a good relationship, are partners who know how to fight fairly and respectfully.
- If one of us thinks that the other person has checked out, then we tend to pull away too. This creates a huge divide between partners that can be very difficult to get past.
- To engage your partner emotionally, you have to make them feel like they are wanted.
Dr. Pepper Schwartz:
- In a relationship, you have to give to each other. There has to be some generosity, as well as some equity and equality. That lifestyle, that becoming a team, is critical in a marriage.
- Relationships aren’t just about emotion. They’re about the little things like creating a home, cooking and even shopping together.
- You need to have domesticity and emotional generosity for a couple to feel grounded in a marriage.
- There is nothing more important in a relationship than communication. You have to listen to what your partner is trying to say, and sometimes even read between the lines, if they’re not being articulate.
- Words matter. You have to be very careful of the words you use towards each other.
- You need to forgive yourself for the tough stuff.
- It’s important to take time away. Make romance a part of your life and be playful. Research shows that it’s good for couples to learn new things together.
- When you hold hands you’re a team…and that’s powerful.
- You need to communicate well, in order to have a deep, lasting, intimate, connection.
- The biggest obstacle can be to get out of your head. Allow yourself to feel what you are really feeling and to admit it to yourself and one another.
- There will always be strain, tension, fights, arguments and disagreements. Commitment is the moral force that can allow us to overcome those struggles.
- Spending an extended amount of time together, without the distractions of home and other people helps us to grow in our relationships.
- Give what gifts you can. Know what you are feeling, but also focus on what the other is feeling.
- If we make an effort to connect with our partner, the feelings of intimacy can come back.
- There is a real power that we each have in being able to step back, look at our mistakes and grow.
- There is no perfect, but there can be wonderful.
Whether it’s the couples on MAFS or viewers watching from their homes, the free tools and advice from experts can give you a better chance at achieving a successful long-term relationship. But the bottom line is, it has to be applied. We have to take responsibility and be willing to put in the work that’s required every single day.