Lifetime’s Married at First Sight fans are some of the most passionate in reality TV land. Social media reflects that fervor in trending tweets, Instagram posts and stories, and Facebook chat groups.
As I view the show with an abundance of curiosity, questions enter my mind…like an unannounced visitor ringing the doorbell. (Yes, that just happened here.) I can ignore that doorbell, but my thoughts refuse to go away.
In recent weeks, issues around masculinity and clinical depression have come to the forefront with one couple, Karen Landry 30, who married 26-year-old Miles Williams.
In the fragile state of an unprecedented pandemic and great political unrest, I felt compelled to address these issues with Karen.
The one thing we know is, people are multi-faceted and complex beyond measure. We also know that five-minute segments only give us a small glimpse of those complexities. Let’s take a deeper look under the veil of this bride.
You’ve described yourself as being reserved and a private person. What motivated you to apply for and marry a stranger?
I wanted love and a lifetime partner. As scary as the process was, I felt the risk was worth the reward. So I decided to do something totally outside of my comfort zone that I knew would push me, with the hopes of finding that special someone. It was one of those moments where I told myself that I couldn’t expect different results if I kept doing everything the same way.
How do you think being more private with sharing your thoughts affects the telling of your story on National TV?
I think that I am misunderstood a lot. People don’t realize how brave I am to be a part of this process to begin with. I am more of a private person, but there is so much more to me than that.
I’m silly, fun, and adventurous…elements that haven’t transferred over to camera well yet. There is so much more that is said and done that you all don’t get to see.
In the early days as you are getting to know Miles, why do you think the experts matched you with him?
I saw why the experts matched us from day one. Yes… day one. We had a ton of similar interests— music, traveling, art [and] progressing the black community as a whole.
We got along well. We started cracking jokes with one another immediately. We had really good vibes. I think ultimately the experts saw our similar interests and that we both had very similar asks in terms of a partnership.
Let’s address #textgate.
There is a hashtag? [laughs] That’s wild!
From looking at Miles’ social media, you felt he was too emotional and more in the spotlight than you would like a partner to be. Can you expound on what specifically made you feel that way?
Miles is very open about his feelings and what he is going through on social media. As a more private person, that made me a little concerned. I could tell he was ‘Mr. Popular’ too (laughs).
I had not dated a guy who was as present and open on social media as Miles was. I don’t have anyone close to me that is that way either. It was a bit off-putting for me because there is a difference between ‘over-sharing’ and openness, in my mind. I couldn’t tell what side of the line Miles was on at that point.
Do you see men that show emotion as a sign of weakness?
NO, I absolutely do not see a man showing his emotions as a sign of weakness. I hate that people take my concern that he was a more emotional guy and equate that to me thinking men shouldn’t show emotions or that I want a toxic male who doesn’t know how to talk about his feelings. Like come on… let’s not reach!
Being ’emotional’ is a spectrum. You can be a more (or less) emotional person, but still emotionally healthy. You can also be ‘overly emotional’ or lack emotions completely, which isn’t healthy.
Ultimately, I want to be and want someone who is emotionally healthy and emotionally intelligent.
This experience is hard enough under the normal confines of the experiment. What obstacles did having preconceived ideas about Miles have on your marriage?
Contrary to popular belief, the preconceived ideas about Miles didn’t come with a bunch of obstacles for us. I decided to walk down the aisle and knew what that meant — I had to get to know Miles for Miles and not what I saw on his social media. I was well aware of that and just took things for what they were.
I would have acted the same towards Miles and still approached the situation the same even if I did not know who Miles was on my wedding day.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret. The real obstacle in that moment was simply feeling like my MAFS experience had been ruined. It was a lot to take in the night before my wedding and I definitely freaked out.
You prefer a masculine man. How would you define those characteristics in a relationship?
Masculine energy in a relationship to me comes from a man stepping up and taking initiative. It’s standing up for himself first and foremost, as well as his partner. Having the ability to make decisions for himself and his family. It’s being honest and direct; supportive and dependable.
You said Miles speaks of being masculine, but you hadn’t seen it yet. What specific actions or behaviors are you looking for?
We’re only two weeks in and these are traits that you see through time and consistency. I am looking for something real. Therefore, I need to see these traits displayed consistently, over time, and in different situations to be able to gauge if it’s real or just a ‘good performance’.
Miles is very tuned in to your thoughts and feelings. Do you think his concern not to push you out of your comfort zone may be prohibiting him from showing you his more masculine traits?
This is a great question. Miles is patient and a great guy, but he was honestly missing the mark on my thoughts and feelings in the beginning, as many folks have.
I absolutely think that his concern not to push me out of my comfort zone prohibited him from showing more of his masculine traits. And honestly, I wish I could have found the right words in that moment, but it just felt like an over-the-top performance.
He was throwing a lot at me, without taking the time to really get to know me and understand me fully. I want someone patient, but not at the expense of their own feelings. I need to trust that my partner can tell me respectfully how they are whole-heartedly feeling. It’s just as important to me as their ability to be patient at times.
The honeymoons are over and you are about to start your daily married life together. Besides sharing your personal space and time, what other concerns do you have about moving in together?
My only other concern at this point is closet space and how tidy Miles will be. His dad warned me that he is not neat…enough so, to state it during the family/friend statements on our wedding day (laughs).
Outside of that, we were getting along well. He’d been respectful and thoughtful about sharing space on the honeymoon, so I don’t really have any major concerns.
In part two of my interview with Karen, we’ll talk about her reaction to Miles’ diagnosis of clinical depression, their visit with Pastor Cal, and how the friendship between Miles and Woody impacted the experiment.