My Take On: "Married At First Sight"
After watching the most recent episode of Lifetime TV's #MarriedAtFirstSight with my mum, who posed the question, "Nasia, would you ever do something like this?", to which I responded with a pause followed by a "no", I reminded myself that I, indeed, thought of the same, a few episodes prior, where I did express some sort of intrigue towards the concept. And, after watching last season and now this season, I've found myself thinking about this concept of getting married at first sight more and more, each episode.
This concept is not new, as it is similar to an arranged marriage, but with the full consent of all participants. Okay, cool. That's fine. It's an adventure where the brave survive. But, this is the first time I have truly taken notice of it because of the show. Stay with me.
After each couple gets married (which is the first time they meet each other), they go on a honeymoon a few days after, and the issue of consummating the marriage is brought into play. This is one of the show's gems that fascinates me the most! Some couples choose to consummate right away, usually because they had a nice spark from the start; while other couples take a while to warm up to each other intimately.
This part of the show gets me the most because it makes me think about the true definition of "marriage". I've heard the saying that a marriage isn't truly a marriage until it's been consummated, with this even being a lawful requirement in many parts of the world, and a "get ouf of jail free" card for those who want to end the "marriage". But, then there's also the idea of marriage simply being a piece of paper or documentation that ties two people together legally, a contractual agreement as many say, that may or may not have anything to do with "love".
But, don't forget: THESE PEOPLE ARE STRANGERS!!!!
When it comes to the idea of the show's participants consummating the marriage, it makes me think, 'Does this newlywedded "wife" owe her "husband" sex simply because they just legally became married to each other?' To me, it really does blow my mind that in a matter of hours and days, I'm suddenly a "wife" to someone who I literally just met. That is so wild to me! Like, am I really expected to have sex with this stranger simply because he now has the title of being my "husband"? It makes me wonder if him being my "husband" trumps him being a stranger. Like, despite the fact that we didn't know each other 24+ hours ago, but now we are married, does our marriage overwrite us being strangers and are we now just expected to leap into marital roles?
Obviously, none of the couples are forced to have sex after just meeting a few hours before, as we have seen with this season in Keith and Iris -- the show's first virgin (to my knowledge of all the seasons).
This couple, particularly, has challenged the notion of what a marriage is based on consummation, with Iris being a virgin and not having sex with Keith so close to Decision Day. With sex not even on the plate, it has forced Keith and Iris, the show's producers and experts, and audiences, to focus on other features that make a marriage a marriage.
For example, Pastor Cal has spoken to Keith and Iris about finances, where Iris ended up referring to Keith as "still a stranger", even though, at that point, it was a few weeks in. Pastor Cal told Iris to no longer think of Keith as a "stranger" but as her "husband", which is still strange to me, because technically, they really still are "strangers".
It takes regular couples years to form a bond before they even think of getting married or having kids or simply taking their relationship to the next level, whatever that may be. But, with Married At First Sight, the couples are in a peculiar situation because they willingly signed up to participate in an 8-week marriage experiment where, naturally, they are expected to view themselves and their partner as a spouse, not a stranger.
I'm not saying that this idea never works out either, because we know that is not true. Many couples have found the love of their life through this show and other reality shows about love, (e.g. The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, etc.) and have gone on to have children and a long, happy marriage, as well as people who participate in this in real-life as a part of their culture. But, just for the purpose of this blog post and how mind-boggling this concept and this show is to me, I find it odd to fall in love with a total stranger, and not just a "stranger", but a stranger who you are expected to see as your spouse, in less than 8 weeks, unless there was always chemistry from the start. However, to remain fair, there are also those couples who take a while to warm up to each other and end up having a solid relationship the more they spend time together and grow as a couple, but that also lends itself to this definition of what exactly a marriage is or should be.
All-in-all, I love all the questions the show makes me ask about marriage in its truest form in and outside of the show. Are people considered married simply because they signed documents and had a wedding? Can we even call the couples on the show "married" or would viewers be wrong in seeing them as just "dating"? If we can see them as dating, then can "love" be completely erased as a component or requirement for a marriage? These couples don't go into the marriage loving each other, because they don't even know each other. So can a marriage truly be a marriage if love isn't there from the start? Is it really a marriage if the couple hasn't consummated within the first three to six months? Should this be a lawful requirement? What about marriages for convenience (i.e. citizenship) and serial spouses? I don't have much to say on the topics of finances and household roles because even couples who have been together forever handle these differently based on their upbringing/generation and what works best for them.
But, when it comes to the show, specifically, I'm sure they're not actually showing us EVERYTHING because, after all, it is made-for-TV and editing omits a lot of footage that would probably expose too much, and makes some things more dramatic than they actually were - as many saw last season with how badly Luke appeared to be treating Kate and this season with how clingy Amber is compared to how distant Matt is. So, I can only go based off what the show reveals.
Still, it is really good TV (they aren't the Critics' Choice Real TV Awards Winner for Best Relationship Show for nothing). In fact, it appears as if when the experts and producers are choosing which four couples appear on the show, they deliberately pick at least one controversial couple (as was the case with Luke and Kate), which can be seen as a good and a bad thing. On one hand, it can be a good challenge for the couple to put aside what they thought was their "type" and see if they can see the good in someone they never thought they would be with, but on the other hand, that can easily all go left and backfire on the couple which ends up being painful for audiences to watch (again, Luke and Kate and Amber and Matt); which also then leaves audiences wondering if the show is really just there to rack up ratings.
And yes, there is also more to it. After assessing everything, is my answer still "no"? Who knows? I think the part that gets me the most about the show is that it's a show; meaning, it's on TV. If I was to ever consider something like this, it would probably only be a blind date that is in the privacy of the real world, not in the land of make believe.
But on that note, more power to those who are brave enough to air their lives on TV in the name of "love"!