Married At First Sight: Rescue Needed

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I am convinced that poor David Norton () was sorely in need of rescuing during the entire six weeks of what I, from my viewer’s perspective, can only describe as a tragic marriage.  I don’t care what happens in next two weeks.  He has received such shabby treatment in the first four weeks that they should be counted as serving double time in marital hell.  This past episode has me wondering how often the “experts” review the footage of the daily interactions of the newlyweds. If they aren’t reviewing the footage on a daily basis, who alerts them when red flags are raised?  More importantly, what are their guidelines for intervening in relationships? I realize that it wouldn’t make sense for the experts to be present every day, but unless the editing has us all fooled and David Norton became a monster when the cameras stopped rolling, he deserved better. Had he made such an awful a choice of a partner on his own, it would be easier to watch. His hot mess of a marriage was inflicted on him because he trusted in experts whose matchmaking skills deserve serious questioning.  FYI Network (@FYI) has invested a great deal of money, time, and energy in recasting #MAFS season after season.  Is it time for the network to put those resources to use in recasting the experts?

david-ashley-married-at-first-sight-4Norton is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.  If he tries to spend time with Ashley, he is forcing her to interact and she is not ready. She needs space. If he leaves her side, even during a party they are hosting at their home, he is abandoning her. The guy was watching the grill and entertaining their guests.  Why didn’t Ashley go stand next to him, talk to him, interact with him? Their relationship feels emotionally abusive and it is painful to watch.  David’s days are spent trying to make Ashley 100% happy, without being given the slightest idea of what herculean task he would have to perform to make that happen.  Last week we learned that Ashley couldn’t think of three things she liked about David, despite his ability to quickly provide a list of what he thought her best qualities were.  He forgot to add that it is really neat the way she is able to blink, walk, and talk while barely registering a pulse!  (Cheap shot, I know.) She couldn’t find one nice thing to say, in return. She wanted to go and “think about it”. Hell, I spend less than a hour per week with the guy, and as a viewer even I can find three things I like about David (great sense of humor, kind, patient).  What sucks most is watching him take full responsibility for Ashley’s unhappiness and unwillingness to get beyond her lack of physical attraction to him.

At this point, I hope it IS true that David has asked another woman out for drinks.  He has
been treated as a pariah in his own home for at least a month by the airing of the last episode.  Under most circumstances I would stand by the adage that “it takes two”.  In terms of making a marriage work?  tres-vanessa-married-at-first-sight-2Yes.  In terms of working to make sure a marriage falls apart? No.  Ashley is doing a great job sabotaging the marriage, all on her own.

At least the other two couples are bringing something good to the table.  They almost redeem the experts – if you ignore the rest of the experts serious misjudgments in prior seasons.

Vanessa Nelson () and Tres Russell () are still as cute as buttons and I like watching their struggle even when it gets bone tough.  Tres’ concern about abandonment when Vanessa went “home” to spend the night away from him was telling.  It was also heartbreaking.  How quickly the childhood pain of his mother leaving him came back (or never fully went away and is always sitting at the surface). I think it is fair to say that Vanessa had not yet made the leap of thinking of them as a committed couple since her apartment was “home”, not the space she shared with her husband. So…shouldn’t she should have made room for Tres’ occasional uneasiness?  P.S. His distancing comments in response to his friend’s observation that he and Vanessa seemed to be in love were boneheaded… THINK IT, man, don’t talk about your uneasiness in a room full of invited guests.  She is your wife, not a live-in hook up.

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Samantha Role () and Neil Bowlus ()  are a sweet surprise for me.  She has become softer and is now open to seeing the good in him. I think Neil is amazing, based on what we’ve seen of him so far.  He is becoming more assertive in saying what needs to be said.  It feels as if Neil is beginning to see Sam as a person, instead of simply as “his wife”. As recently as last week,  I wanted poor Neil to run and never look back.  Now I am wondering what a loving relationship between these two would look like.  I am looking forward to watching their journey unfold. On the shallow end, who didn’t love Neil’s response to seeing Sam work out on the silks?  I am sure some of his reaction was sheer awe that Sam, who is typically serious and businesslike, has an artistic side.  I also can’t help but believe that if Neil was attracted to Sam before, he was after that day.

David and Ashley leave me hoping this show is cast by actors, while Vanessa and Tres, as well as Samantha and Neil. have me hoping just the opposite.

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Married at First Sight – We Need Ground Rules!

We finally have a new set of newlyweds and one thing is abundantly clear to me regarding this show.  If this show is to continue moving forward into new seasons, we need ground rules!  Without them we run the risk of having each cycle of this show become mind-numbingly the same as the prior cycles.  In some ways, I feel as if I am watching the same issues from the prior two groups play out in group 3.  Have the experts (and the network) learned nothing?

Vanessa and Tres

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So far,  Vanessa and Tres are my favorite couple.  Why?  On the shallow end, they are freakin’ gorgeous, young, and fun loving.  They could be have been models for their own cake toppers!   Tres’ smooth move of proposing to Vanessa at the altar didn’t hurt, either.   On the deep end (which is just one level above the shallow end when it comes to reality shows), I love that they laugh together, as if they actually enjoy one another’s company.  They get it in a way the other couples don’t, or at least they seem to get it.  They are strangers coming together to see if they can try to let go of their old unsuccessful patterns of dating and make something real of their marriage.  If I hear Sam or Ashley refer to the fact that they are married to strangers one more time, I will scream – and you, no matter where you are, will hear it.  It is weak and it is tired to keep complaining about being married to a stranger.  Did neither of the other two women read the show’s description?

While Vanessa and Tres held off on immediately consummating the marriage, the fact that they consummated the marriage once they moved into their new home concerns me.  Intimacy?  Yes. Hand-holding, hugs, and kisses, but Vanessa still had doubts about how committed Tres was to being married, instead of getting married to avoid being alone.  Shortly after they consummated the marriage, he gave her good reason to wonder about the kind of husband he would be when he stayed out all night drinking with his father and uncle to celebrate Father’s Day.  I think it was his inability to understand her concerns as much as it was the “out all night” drinking session that was an issue.  I will keep my fingers crossed, even though I am not fully hopeful this couple will make it.  I would not mind seeing Tres step up, and Vanessa to take a step back.  He is too chill, and she is too tightly wound, in my opinion.  It is not clear to me that these two opposites will remain attracted for too much longer.

Vanessa – Tres inspired ground rules?

mafs-tres-and-vanessa-wedding-4-p— Sex is not the only form of intimacy couples can experience.  Would it hurt to give the couples a two week moratorium on sexual contact to allow them to have some time to just talk and get to know one another?  Most of these couples probably would have held off on having sex for an even longer period of time if they were just dating.  These couples are combining dating and marriage into a tightly wound six weeks.  Those who reach out to this show to be paired with a potential life partner often speak to the fact that their old dating practices haven’t worked or helped them find “the one”.  Rushing into a sexual relationship with someone you have just met clearly hasn’t been the answer for most of the couples this group of experts has put together over three seasons, either.   As much as I like them, I would be completely surprised if Vanessa and Tres made it.  Her attraction to him, and his attraction to her, seems to have prevented them from seeing the small traits and behaviors that would have given them pause under other circumstances.

— You should not be allowed to be filmed using the words “consummated the **** out of our marriage”, unless you are in high school, and then you have a whole lot of other, much bigger, issues that need to be addressed.  Every moment in which I believed that Tres respected his wife and cared for her fell away in that one scene.  Now I am doubting him as much as Vanessa did on their honeymoon.

— Someone should tell these couples that their past behaviors (you know, like “partying hard”, Tres), were not the kinds of behaviors that led to successful long term relationships in the past and definitely don’t feel like behaviors that will lead to successful long term relationships in the future.  They should be as critical of their own bad habits as they are of the habits of their mates.  More than anything, this show feels like it is a show about a group of people who think they are perfectly ok, and that everyone else in the world needs fixing.

The lack of openness to change is not unique to Tres.  This “heal thyself” ground rule should apply to all couples.

David and Ashley

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My least favorite couple?  David and Ashley — and believe me, I struggled in trying to figure out if they were even more deplorable than Sam… no, not Sam and Neil, – just SAM… but more on that later. Poor David.  talk about being alone in a crowd.  I can’t tell if Ashley is self-confident to the point of being obnoxious, if she lacks self-confidence all together,  or what the issue is.  Ashley tells us that she is not attracted to David because he doesn’t LOOK like the kinds of men she’s used to dating (none of whom  have married her or even tried to, as far as we know).  He doesn’t have dark hair and dark features.  David  is immediately attracted to her. OUCH!  The more she rejects him, the more desperate he seems to prove himself worthy of her.

David’s desperation gives me anxiety, as a viewer, so I can’t completely fault Ashley for being a little anxious around him.  David’s seeming desperation to be in love and happily married is far from nefarious.  To the contrary.  She is a student, so he wants to take the financial pressure off of her by paying for their living expenses and giving her a wonderful home to live in while she prepares for her nursing school exams.  Too bad he doesn’t have dark hair and dark features.  THEN that sort of gesture would be meaningful, I guess.  He may have even gotten a hug.  I sure hope this future nurse has a sense of warmth so far missing from the show.  Am I the only one who gets the feeling that I am watching the sequel to “I, Robot” when she’s on screen?

David and Ashley inspired ground rules:

mafs-david-ashley-wedding-8-p— If dating the people you were physically and emotionally attracted to, in the past, was working for you, you would still be doing it.  SHUT UP about it.  Unless you tell the experts that you are only willing to marry someone who meets your definition of physical attractiveness, you are showing intolerable cruelty to the person you agree to ultimately marry.

To be fairer to Ashley, she may have “Googled” her new hubby and found out about some of the  accusations of seedy behavior on his part.  They have been around for as long as the guy has been filming the show.  I hope the rumors are not true, but who knows?  If S2 Ryan is any indication of the vetting process conducted by the network, I am already sad.

— Learn to let it go.  David’s serial attempts to get Ashley to notice him seem to work in pushing her further away.  She either wants him to stop talking to her and leave her alone, and my money is on this option, or she simply enjoys watching his begging escalate to new heights.  Either way, the guy owes it to himself to not work so hard just to get a high five.  I hope it was a scripted moment and not a true confession when he said that he high fived her because it was the only way he could get her to touch him. Sweet cheese of Wisconsin.  Who deserves to be treated that way?

I would love to see a rejected spouse in this situation walk away instead of wasting six weeks being treated like a devious interloper who secretly replaced the real groom/bride the rejecting spouse thought they were going to marry.  I don’t know how to feel about S3 Ashley, S3 Sam, S1 Jaime,  S1 Vaughn and  S2 Sean – whose initial attraction to Monet and Davina, respectively, seemed unsustainable.  I  give them all credit for not faking their feelings but remain deeply disturbed at how far each partner is willing to go  to tear down their spouses. Will anyone ever forget Vaughn telling Monet that her happy demeanor annoyed him?

The experts would do well by giving rejected partners tips at how to protect themselves, emotionally, and tips to help them learn to stand up for themselves. More than anything, I would love for the experts to find people who won’t need counseling in how to behave as adults.  Neil has been the healthiest, so far, in my opinion.  He says that he knows that not every woman will be attracted to him so he accepts his wife’s statements about his looks as issues about her preferences in men, and not about who he is as an individual.  He has also learned to tell Sam to stop putting him down with respect to her ideas about his “manhood”.  Although she managed to make herself the victim in the discussion, we need to see more participants standing up and valuing themselves instead of placating selfish partners.  If I wanted to watch someone take a brutal verbal beatdown each week, I would follow the GOP primary.

Sam and Neil

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I don’t know what Neil did in a past life to deserve Sam, but WOWZA it must have been awful.  It’s not just the fact that she is not attracted to him.  She seems to hate everything about the fact that he is not cut from  the same cloth as her father.  The only thing he seemed to do right was stop her from driving head on into traffic on their honeymoon. Good luck being able to reach such an impossibly high bar for acceptance.

Sam and Neil inspired ground rules:

— Read up on Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King) and the theory of Oedipal conflict and then get over it.  If you date rugged men who are carbon copies of your father, good for you.  Add that behavior to the “Ashley” rule.  Realize when that dating criteria hasn’t worked out for you in the past and then move on.  Sam’s hero worship of her father speaks to a great and loving relationship between the father and daughter, one every child deserves.  Sam, however, confuses me (and probably herself) by highly valuing her independence and ability to take charge – but seeking a man who will take on a dominant role in their marriage.  And again, I ask… why hasn’t she married a man like that, yet?  It is not like finding a man like that, especially in the financial markets she works in, would be difficult.  She treats poor Neil like a little brother she has to raise rather  than a husband she has a chance to love.

mafs-neil-and-sam-wedding-8-p— Attacks on your husband’s manhood are viciously homophobic, where I come from.  Men, no matter how they identify, are diverse.  Neil is a man who has managed to become educated, successful, and happy in his life.  He doesn’t define manhood as keeping another person under control and making all of the important decisions – some of us call that enslavement, not marriage.  He and Sam are a lot like David and Ashley.  The more David tries to show care towards Ashley, the more she seems to reject him.  The more Neil tries to show Sam respect, the more she seems to reject him.    I would love for this couple to get to the point at which she accepts that Neil is his own man and begins to show him respect, but I know I would only end up wondering how long that would last.

My hopes for this season are as follows:

That Vanessa and Neil find true love, either now or in the near future.

That Tres grows into his marriage or realizes what a loss Vanessa was, if they don’t end up together.  Hopefully he would then grow in his next  serious relationship.

That David finds someone who wants him for who he is and that he can finally give up  high-fiving for affection.

That Sam and Ashley find what they need, not just want they want.  I have a feeling that neither would be happy, for long, if they finally found the partners they claim they want.

For the viewers?  Let’s hope there is something “real” about this reality show before we invest any more of our time in this series.

 

 

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