Recently my Facebook feed has been inundated with posts about the new reality TV show Married at First Sight.
For those denying knowing anything about the show, it is a reality show that first hit our TV screen in May this year. Marketed as a "social experiment", the show features four couples, matched "perfectly" by three experts (a psychologist, a relational psychologist and a neuropsychotherapist), who agree to marry when they meet for the very first time. The couples get married to a complete stranger in front of their family and friends, go away on honeymoon and spend a month living together. At the end of this time, they have an opportunity to choose whether they both want to continue with their marriage.
As silly as the premise of the show may sound, it attracted an average of one million views each episode, with the finale ranking #1 in its time slot.
So what is the fascination with Married at First Sight?
One journalist summed it up nicely, "We know it's not the real thing. We know it's not good for us. If asked, we will probably deny consuming it at all. But it hits the spot. Especially that packet flavour of mild-spice mixed with future-regret. Yum." (Hardie, 2015)1
What is the spot that it hits?
Is it just wanting to see how people could put themselves in such an awkward position? Do we find it entertaining to see how these couples will fall apart in the weeks after the elation of the wedding?
Maybe it hits a deeper spot. A spot that actually wants to see these couples succeed, a belief that these couples can find true love. That true love is well and alive today. A spot that takes us back to our childhood where love stories were fairytales and people did live happily-ever-after.
It's that vulnerable spot we know to be there when our relationships disappoint us. When we go through yet another disappointing date, yet another heartbreak, yet another unfulfilled expectation.
It's a vulnerable spot that doesn't go away with marriage.
After the elation of the wedding day and the honeymoon, reality sets in that you are two very different people with different personalities, different upbringings, and ways of doing things. Conflicts surface, patience and romance can be easily lost.
Maybe that does make me question whether it would have worked out better if experts found me my "perfect match". I am not talking about plunging in to marry a complete stranger on my wedding day but at least that a bunch of surveys and interviews can find me my perfect match. It's like the traditional matchmaker but with three PhDs and a bunch of scientific and psychological research to back up their decision. Maybe somehow that will stop some of the difficulties, the conflicts, the disappointments, the heartaches we potentially face in marriage?
But will it?
Perfect compatibility at the beginning of a marriage does not guarantee a conflict-less, heartache-less, happily-ever-after marriage. Marriage will always be a union between two very imperfect people. We bring into our marriages... baggage... and lots of it. The key to a lasting marriage is not if our baggage is perfectly compatible, but it's a COMMITMENT to carry each other's baggage no matter what. There is no review date after living together for one month…six months…six years…sixty.
It's a lifelong commitment.
In Christian marriages, in particular when this commitment is not only to each other but also to God, we are to be "as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." (Colossians 3:12-14)
It's about commitment not just compatibility.
What do you think?
1. Hardie, G. (2015). I do! what we learned from Marriage at First Sight. The New Daily. [online] Available at: http://thenewdaily.com.au/entertainment/2015/06/22/married-first-sight-says-marriage/ [Accessed 5 Jul. 2015].