This week on FYI‘s “Married at First Sight”, the couples started connecting through their shared activities of biking, paddle boarding, swimming and horseback riding. But it wasn’t all fun and games. Each couple had their first conflict and for viewers, there were many lessons to be learned.
Derek and Heather
Derek and Heather are on their honeymoon and fail to connect on any level. In fact, the disconnect is palpable.
Heather is clearly disengaged from the whole process. She wants her fairytale and this is not it. Herein lies the problem…Heather is uncomfortable confronting conflict, with a stranger, in front of cameras. She planned to have the smoking conversation with Derek in private, but that didn’t happen. Hence, her words and actions are distant when she can’t pull off a fake happy face for him and the cameras all day.
Derek can sense something is wrong and his frustration starts to show in his comments. Knowing how important communication is, he confronts the issue head-on. However, he quickly becomes defensive when he feels personally attacked.
At this point, they are in lockdown mode. Heather seems unwilling to compromise and Derek lashes out with brutal honesty. This is a damaging cycle that will only drive a deeper wedge between them. Individually, they have so many great qualities, but their disillusionment is clouding any forward progress.
Lessons learned from Derek and Heather
- Conflict must be dealt with expediently or it will fester
- How you view conflict is key – do you perceive it as a threat or a way to grow?
- It’s important to explain your feelings without blaming
- Anger, resentment and personal attacks quickly spiral the situation out of control
Nick and Sonia
Nick and Sonia are trying to develop their relationship organically. Setting aside the fact that they are married, their shared focus is on developing an emotional connection. I see cautious optimism on both sides. They clearly have an attraction to one another and an infectious easy banter.
Nick is an introvert, which I fully understand since I’ve been married to one for 37 years. As an introvert, it’s important for Nick to feel comfortable with Sonia before he puts his trust in her. It’s hard to share personal feelings until a bond is solidified. I also see Nick making decisions that look at the big picture vs. responding “in the moment”.
Sonia is a good balance of having both introverted and extroverted qualities. She understands Nick on a certain level and challenges him on another. As a social worker, she is much more in-touch and willing to share her emotions. And can we take a moment to acknowledge her crazy mad communication skills? We clearly see that she is not only comfortable with conflict, but handles it like a champ.
Lessons learned from Nick and Sonia
- We respond to conflict based on our own perception of the issue
- It’s important to actively listen and ask clarifying questions
- Taking a time-out to reflect is okay
- It’s possible to resolve conflict if you are willing to forgive
Tom and Lilly
Tom and Lilly are so in tune with each other that it seriously blows me away. Besides the amazing chemistry, let’s take a deeper look at why they work.
For Lilly, it’s about stability. Tom has her back, (lotion and all). She feels safe and knows she can count on him, which is key to her fully opening her heart.
Tom revels in his innate role to protect. He feels trusted, which is important to build a lasting foundation. He begins to let down his walls by sharing his minimalist values. Sonia doesn’t understand his indirect talk of generalities, which leads to their first miscommunication.
This conflict exemplifies what great communicators Tom and Lilly are. They ask questions, intently listen to answers and clarify misconceptions. More importantly, they are able to grow their relationship and come to a mutual understanding in their first disagreement.
Lessons learned from Tom and Lilly
- Conflict is best managed calmly and respectfully
- Be specific-express your feelings honestly and directly
- Pay attention to non-verbals like tone of voice, touch or gesture
- Keep the ultimate goal of improving the relationship
I can’t even imagine what it’s like to marry a stranger and have your life filmed for the next six weeks. As always, I give kudos to these brave individuals and hope this experience has taught them as much as it’s taught those who tune in.