Married at First Sight’s Iris Caldwell and Keith Manley were filled with joy as they caught their first glimpse of one another on their wedding day.
Although physical attraction was there from the beginning, the challenge would be whether they could build an emotional and sexual connection.
Their honeymoon was full of light, fun and playful banter. However, once the honeymoon was over, the reality of living with a stranger set in.
As the weeks progressed, one specific area the couple didn’t see eye-to-eye on, is in how they defined sexual maturity. On Married at First Sight: Unfiltered, Iris showed surprise when Keith told experts, friends, and family he felt his wife was sexually immature.
In this exclusive interview, Iris and I went deep into her thoughts on that. She was open, honest and vulnerable with RealiTVwithBee…and I thank her for that.
First of all, sexual maturity is a subjective opinion. To open the conversation, Iris shares what it means to her. “Sexual maturity, in my opinion, means that I understand sexual relationships are a shared experience. [It] involves getting to know the preferences of your partner by communicating with your partner about those preferences.”
Iris doesn’t understand or agree with Keith’s assessment of her. “Sexual maturity isn’t based on how many partners you have,” she says.
She further explains that she feels a person can be sexually mature and still be a virgin. “Maturity comes with understanding and learning. It is not limited to one’s actions.”
That’s an area she and Keith seem to have a disconnect on. His comments of her are based on her actions on camera. Let’s take a closer look at that.
“Being able to be open up completely in front of cameras is difficult. Parts of my marriage I would want to be allowed to remain private and behind closed doors. I’d like to have off-camera talks with Keith,” she states.
Assignments like the fishbowl exercise or the dice game cause Iris discomfort because many of the questions and conversations are extremely personal.
She shares, “I don’t feel comfortable licking, blowing or kissing parts of the body on TV. The dice rolled on things like, ‘Lick Nipple,’ ‘Kiss Boob,’ or ‘Blow Nipple’. I did not feel those activities were appropriate on camera for all viewers, including family members and students [that are] watching.”
Iris reveals an interesting behind-the-scenes conversation we didn’t get to see. “This was something Keith and I both agreed we would not do nor talk about on camera because we both work with kids and did not want them influenced by our actions on TV.”
That brings a whole new light on the subject. With that insight, it’s understandable to see the confusion on Iris’ face during Married at First Sight: Unfiltered segments.
She confesses, “It was upsetting to see Keith had an issue with this when we both discussed we wouldn’t talk about certain things on camera. I was surprised by continued comments referring to me as an ‘immature’ person because I wanted to keep some things private.”
Show expert, Dr. Viviana Coles, told the couple they were both responsible for walking each other through sexual intimacy.
Iris explains how she viewed her responsibility. “My role is to show Keith I am open and willing to experience intimacy with him, to break down walls and build up our sexual intimacy.”
She also expresses the role of her husband. “Keith’s responsibility is to show me he is vulnerable, open and that he actually likes me or cares for me.”
Iris goes on to explain what that would look like for her. “Simple words of affirmation, romancing me or even just doing something nice for me will help walk me through this.”
Iris needs her husband to show her he cares about her and then articulate it. “Something as simple as cooking for me or cuddling in bed at night. That’s what I need…to know he actually has feelings for me and wants this to work,” she admits.
There’s no question the time frame of the experiment has a direct impact. Iris shares her lens on that, “This is only a two-month process. We have a short amount of time to grow together. That, in turn, is very difficult with someone in the early stages of a relationship.”
We see Iris soaking up the advice of the show experts. “I was taking ‘small steps’ to let this new person in my life know that I’m trying to be vulnerable and open to the experience,” she notes.
She describes one example, “The edible paint exercises was a huge step for us and certainly brought me closer to Keith. But the disappointment at the end of that night was either Keith went out with his friends or didn’t talk to me once we got in bed.”
That sounds like a huge missed effort to connect on a deeper level, which led me to ask if Iris feels they are living up to their responsibilities.
“I feel I am living up to my responsibilities and expectations, given this process is so extreme. As a wife, I’ve demonstrated care and compassion toward Keith in the devastating loss of his sweet grandmother,” Iris reveals.
She then notes her efforts with household duties, meal preparation, “as well as ideas for shared activities to get to know each other in this accelerated process.”
Iris says Keith is not fulfilling her expectations of what his responsibility is. “He doesn’t open up to me about his thoughts or feelings. He has never done anything romantic for me or even voiced his feelings to make me feel warm and comfortable,” she admits.
The bottom line is Iris isn’t feeling the effort she needs from her husband to move forward with sexual intimacy. “I can’t break down these walls when Keith is building them back up,” she reiterates.
Keith’s lack of effort has had an impact on where they are at this point in their marriage. She expounds, “It’s challenging to open up to someone who hasn’t opened up to you. Nor can I be vulnerable with someone who has not been vulnerable to me. I have found it so difficult to grow sexually when he isn’t trying to help me do that. I want to be more vulnerable with him, but it’s hard when it feels I’m doing all the work by myself.”
In part two of this exclusive interview, we discuss the ‘secret reveal’ exercise, the challenges holding Iris back and what she needs to move their relationship forward until Decision Day.