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Why Married at First Sight proves marriage is about more than compatibility

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...

How a reality TV show is proving that finding the right person is about more than matching personalities

It's Married at First Sight decision day for the last two couples in the second part of the season finale. We saw in the first part of the finale that David and Ashely have already decided to get a divorce. In the second finale, we find Samantha and Neil discussing their six weeks together in the opening scene.

Samantha seems confident in front of the camera that she wants to continue the marriage, however we do not know Neil’s thoughts as of yet. I find it interesting that as she became more confident in the relationship, he appeared to question it more. Eventually we see this in his final decision to divorce.

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The other couple, Tres and Vanessa, show their anxiety toward decision day, but this couple seems to have formed a strong connection since the beginning of the show. Their connection leads to a positive ending for them.

Six weeks is very little time to be able to make a decision about a marriage. In this experiment, they must go through the journey in such a short period of time. The psychologist, Dr. Joseph Cilona, tells the camera, "The couples have to really soul search and find a decision that is one of the most important of their lives." However, how can anyone be given only six weeks to make the biggest decision of their lives? Of course this is reality TV. The time line might not be enough for most couples to make such a tremendous and life changing decision. More time might be a better idea for this type of reality TV show to produce couples that stay together, no matter how compatible the couples might seem on paper.

Vanessa actually admits to the camera, "This is a lot of work and feels like a marathon." Greg Epstein and Dr. Pepper Schwartz meet with them to make their decision. Keep in mind the issue about the finale is that the couples are making separate decisions and not jointly coming to decision day together. Vanessa decides to stay married, and we then hear Tres agree that he would also like to stay married.

More: What Married at First Sight gets wrong about relationships

The experts look more relieved than the couple at this point, probably since last season none of the couples stayed together and Ashely and David were on the road to divorce. From the beginning, we could see a connection between Vanessa and Tres; and even with such a short period of time, they decided to continue to build upon it.

A success finally! Congratulations to this couple.

Sam and Neil meet with Dr. Cilona and Dr. Schwartz to discuss their decisions. In this reveal, Sam opens up to Neil and tells him that she feels that she has learned a lot about herself and how to communicate better, which are really great things to learn. If nothing else, the show is helping individuals gain tools that will help them in their relationships. Dr. Cilona asks the couple to decide to stay married or get a divorce. Sam wants to stay married, and Neil decides to get a divorce. The ending with this couple is more dramatic, as Sam runs out in tears. Neil reveals that he feels that the first two weeks of the experiment have been “an unhappy journey” for him. The issue is that six weeks is really not adequate time to know someone enough for long-term marriage. We can tell that with the three couples; only one couple remained together, which is still one out of three.

I believe that if they increased the length of time, couples would be able to build relationships. This might increase the likelihood of couples staying together at the end. Another odd part of the show is watching the divorced couples separate their homes and possessions. We have some awkward experiences, seeing some real emotions on display and watching them interact when moving out.

Obviously, these two couples in the end could not find connection or magic. Sometimes what looks fantastic on paper does not work out in person. Remember that love is more than matching qualities; it might be about an unspoken connection or chemistry. However, there is an interesting twist as we see that next week they will show us what happens with all of the couples over the next six months.

More: Married by Mom and Dad: Why these relationships could work out

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