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March 30, 2024

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‘Married at First Sight:’ How TV is making mockery of marriage

Confession: I binge-watched the television program “Married at First Sight.” Congratulations if you’ve avoided it.

The gist of the show is in the title: Complete strangers get married without knowing anything about each other. They’re matched by so-called “experts” based on God knows what criteria and see each other for the first time at the altar. They swap vows, go on a honeymoon and spend two months living together. It gets worse. There’s a get-out clause: If after eight weeks the couples can’t handle being married, they divorce. In season 13, all but one couple did exactly that and at least two participants went into therapy.

The series got millions of viewers per episode, all eager to see things go wrong between people they don’t know. Or maybe that’s just me. And here’s why: I find the whole thing offensive. What moron gets married at first sight? Or more to the point, how attention seeking, fame hungry and desperate does someone need to be?

Admittedly, I’m on a high horse about a show I devoured, but let’s put that down to a nasty cold and thorough research. Seriously, isn’t this concept making a mockery of marriage?

I’m not religious. I don’t fear divine intervention if my marriage doesn’t work out, nor do I believe couples should stay together if things get toxic. Not all relationships survive, and that’s OK. However, I do believe marriage is hard and you sign up to that when you say “yes.” Going into a lifelong commitment with an exit plan is gross.

Me and Shane were together for six years before he proposed, and we’d been friends for three before dating. I knew what I was getting into, and I accepted his hand in marriage wholeheartedly. It hasn’t always been easy, because being in any meaningful relationship isn’t. But do I love that man more than anything? Absolutely. Shane is the kindest, funniest and most intelligent human I’ve ever known. I would die for him, as he would for me. That’s love. And if love isn’t the foundation of your marriage, you’re building a marriage on quicksand.

I hear you. What about arranged marriage? While not for me, I do understand they stem from cultural values that have been practiced for generations. Families are deeply involved in the process, and there’s often a courtship period. “Married at First Sight” is a different ball game. The show prioritizes entertainment over ethics. Families have no say in the pairing, and couples meet, marry and navigate their relationship to a deadline.

Don’t dismiss this spectacle as mere entertainment. Television shapes public opinion. “Married at First Sight” focuses on quick promises and a whirlwind romance. It sells itself as a social experiment, but it’s a charade masked as matchmaking. And it’s dangerous.

“Married at First Sight” creates unrealistic expectations and trivializes the complexity of marriage. It focuses on sensationalism and distorts genuine emotion and commitment. Not to mention the la-la land these people live in. Champagne flows, the rent is free, there are endless dates, and a dedicated team to guide you through wedlock. Does any of that ring even remotely true of your life? It doesn’t of mine.

Why am I so angry about this?

As a loving wife who knows the turbulence of an enduring partnership, I’m saddened by the circus this program makes of marriage. Can two people be matched based on their beliefs, desires and values? Sure. Can you be attracted to someone you’ve just met? 100 percent. But to take a vow with a complete stranger is total madness. Moreover, it undermines the real work relationships require. Shane annoys me on the regular, as do I him. But we have made a solemn promise to one another. There is zero chance of me leaving because I know my person and life is infinitely better because of him.

Let me be clear, I am not anti-divorce. That’s not what this is about. I am, however, pro-sanity, and “Married at First Sight” is the most insane thing I’ve ever seen.

With that said, the new season is available on Netflix, and I might just say: “I do.”


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