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Why the finale of Married at First Sight disrespects compromise in relationships

My work as a marriage and family therapist in Scottsdale, Arizona helps to  instill hope and change through the use of techniques including: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Parenting Skills Training, and Brief Solution focused therapy. I u...

The finale of Married at First Sight was a big disappointment

The experiment is over on Married at First Sight. The couples had six weeks to see how the journey would turn out. “They faced the highs and lows,” the narrator tells the audience. Let’s look at part one of the final episode and analyze how the couples were told to make their decisions.

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Can six weeks and a marriage license make for a strong, healthy couple on reality TV, especially ones chosen by relationship experts? The experts seemed to tell the audience that these couples have to be committed to the process in order for it — or any marriage — to work. They emphasized work and constant attention to commitment to create a good relationship, even though I would question the need for constant work in relationships.

In my view, a healthy relationship isn't about having to work to accomplish a goal, but more about growing together as a healthy couple by getting to know someone before marriage. I think a couple should be able to manage the differences or conflicts that occur without needing all the work from the start.

Marriage can be easy at times, too. A positive focus on how to make a relationship work with skills and tools is useful for any couple, but just because you commit to a process doesn't necessarily create the result of a happy couple. You have to have a genuine connection, which might not have anything to do with hard work. It might just be an unspoken connection or the magic that occurs when love happens. That would be effortless. Maybe some of these couples will find love, but just because they work at the relationship doesn't always mean there will be a positive result.

More: What Married at First Sight gets wrong about relationships

Next week, we'll find out if the other two couples find love.

At the end of the show, the couples are separated as they make their final decision and only share their thoughts at the very end when they have the final sit-down with the experts. It doesn't seem very positive that the show’s process has each person individually decide if they want to stay married or get a divorce. It keeps the other person out of their decision until the sit-down, but I assume this builds suspense and entertainment for the audience.

To be really productive for the couple and not just the individual, the two would not be so secretive about their decision and not make this big reveal sitting in front of the experts. If we're talking about couples who came together to build a marriage at first sight, then the natural flow at the end of the six weeks would be to bring the two together in the decision-making process, not alone talking to their friends and family as they prepare to surprise their spouse at the end.

Having the couple make the decision together would be a useful process. It seems counterproductive, as each person is told to decide the fate of his or her marriage alone and share their answer on decision-making day, which can blindside the other if the decision is different from the spouse's.

This was the case with David and Ashley – he wants to stay married, but she wants a divorce. She tells him she doesn't have the same feelings as he does. In this awkward exchange, the experts ask them to explain their feelings to each other, which of course hurts David. So, one couple divorces, and we'll have to wait and see what happens next week with the other two couples.

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