Within moments of being Married at First Sight, Greg Okotie learned his wife Deonna McNeill hadn’t been in a committed relationship for 10 years.
His initial response was a bit of shock, which turned to awe and eventually curiosity. With this information, Greg knew he would have to proceed with caution. In fact, the success of his marriage would depend on it.
Building Deonna’s trust wouldn’t be easy, but brick by brick, he’s been successful at chiseling down the wall that protected her heart for so many years. Let’s find out from Greg his approach in this exclusive interview.
The first step was to build a relationship with Sandy. He shares his experience, “It was definitely an adjustment. Going from single to married with a step dog is a lot! [laughs] I’ve had dogs before so I know what it takes to take care of one. I just had to go back to that dog owner mindset.”
One concern Greg had was Sandy’s shedding. “My previous dogs were all short-haired, so I had to get used to Sandy’s long hairs everywhere and cleaning more often,” he says.
We got our first glimpse of Greg’s slow and steady approach in his interaction with Sandy. In no time, she was high-fiving and eagerly awaiting his attention.
Greg admits his wife was impressed with his smooth transition to dog daddy. “Deonna was receptive to my efforts with Sandy. I think it helped her feel more comfortable with me and this process because I was treating Sandy like my own.”
Now that Greg openly accepted Sandy into their lives, it was time to move forward on building a foundation of trust with Deonna.
He explains his initial thoughts in this process. “Based on Deonna’s lack of relationship experience and vulnerability, I knew I had to be patient because we were starting from two different places.”
Although this could have been an overwhelming task, Greg knew it would take completely stripping down his own walls. “I started by just being transparent, patient, and intentional with Deonna. I was transparent about my motives, my past, and beliefs of marriage and faith during the first week of knowing her,” he notes.
Even as he proceeded with baby steps, he wasn’t confident it was the right thing. “I did not know if this would work or not. I was just being myself, intentional with making this marriage work and [trying to] understand why we were matched.”
We saw a major shift in Deonna this past week. Greg reveals his thoughts on what brought on that change.
“I believe Pastor Cal’s visit [had] an impact with the huge change in Deonna. She took Pastor Cal’s advice to heart and was intentional herself with understanding what needs to be done to build the foundation for this marriage.” He went on to explain, “I also believe the work we put in to learn one another and why we were matched, played an integral part in Deonna’s change.”
The evening of Greg’s birthday gathering, the couple finally bridged the intimacy gap. He talks about the ways it changed their relationship. “It brought a different sense of closeness between us. [Intimacy is] another piece of the puzzle that fit well and helped us grow to the next level.”
We know that sexual intimacy does not equate to compatibility in other areas. At times, it can further complicate things.
One example is the disconnect Greg and Deonna have regarding emotional intimacy (compliments, affirmations) and sexual intimacy (frequency and outward affection). The couple had a conversation on film that the communication gap was in using non-verbal vs. verbal cues.
Greg articulates the importance of compromise with this discrepancy. “We resolve our differences by understanding each other’s perspectives and compromising on what would work best for the marriage to help grow our intimacy. There had to be some give and take to make it work.”
With one month left, I asked Greg to give us insight into something we can expect in the next four weeks. “You’ll see me being more adventurous! Having a partner to take me out of my comfort zone is something I asked for. The experts definitely did not disappoint [he laughs]. I think that this will be worse than when I ate the octopus! But I’m not sure how much of this will be shown,” he expounds.
Time constraints of the show admittedly leave some golden nuggets on the cutting room floor. In closing, I asked Greg to share one of those moments with RealiTVwithBee.
He expresses, “[It was] the gifts that Deonna and I gave to one another on our wedding day. Deonna gave me a beautiful basket filled with items to let me know more about her, as well as a personalized tie bar.”
He went on to share, “I gave her a letterbox filled with letters that she read each day in the first two weeks of our marriage. These letters were a way to help start her day in order to provide encouragement. It also gave her a bit of insight into some things about me.”
Greg finalizes his thoughts, “I think this helped speed up the ‘getting to know you’ process and helped bring some walls down. We filmed most of the letter readings. I’m kind of sad to find out that they didn’t make the cut.”
I’m pretty sure there’s a line of people that would want to clone this amazing man. Do you think Deonna realizes the gem she has in him?
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