Meet Sheila and Nate Duhon…The popular TV series, now airing on Lifetime, Married at First Sight brings people together to be married at…first sight. When the two people–selected by a panel of relationship “experts”–meet, it is at the altar. They say “I do,” and then begin the 8-month process of getting to know each other. Sheila Downs and Nate are an African-American couple who were brought together by the experts. Their relationship is an intriguing one….here’s why:
Admittedly, I am obsessed with this relationship. As a relationship coach who works with countless premarital couples, the topic of conflict resolution is one that is discussed over and over. Sheila and Nate intrigue me because they have no clue how to disagree with each other.
But…they are not alone.
As newlyweds–who do not know each other–they have not only the normal challenges of finding their marital rhythm, but also finding out about he person they have married. When it comes to conflicts, these two have UGLY arguments, and it is their arguments that I am obsessed with.
Reason One: They profess to love each other.
It’s great to have love…but we have to keep the love when we disagree. They don’t. There have been a myriad of hyper-emotional outbursts, name calling, and statements that are hard to take back. This is the case with many couples. The love is real, and it’s true, but there is fear and baggage. Fear and baggage is the weight that takes a disagreement into a full blown argument. We don’t want to argue. Because arguing isn’t healthy, and can be detrimental to our relationship.
Knock down drag out fights are evidence of greater internal issues…it just has to be said…and they need to be dealt with.
Reason Two: She has already threatened divorce.
NO MA’AM! They made it through this argument, but “divorce threats” are not easily forgotten. However, when people are hurt and unable to deal or trust fully, they often threaten to leave. We all have done this…myself included. #TrueStory
What is underneath this threat–sometimes–is the test to see if this person cares enough to fight for you or stay with you. Still not a good reason to make the threat. What is also underneath this threat is a desire to hurt your spouse because you have been hurt. There is no greater threat to a marriage, THAN the threat of divorce. Divorce means that I don’t want to share life, do life, or spent my life with you any longer. That is painful…and if it’s not true, telling the person you are with, committed to and profess to love that you don’t want those things with them any longer is very damaging to any relationship.
So don’t do it…unless you mean it. And if you mean it…it’s a conversation, not something you yell in the midst of a heated argument.
Reason Three: They are alone now.
Both the cameras and the experts are now gone. This was a shock to me. How could you leave people who have been married for months alone to deal with their issues, especially, one so major as the inability to handle conflict? I have already come forth publicly to say that I will coach Sheila and Nate FOR FREE, if need be, because this is not something that they can fix on their own, and because I believe in their relationship.
While we do premarital coaching at The Relationship Firm, I am most proud of the couples who return for marital coaching. The first year of marriage is challenging, and to do it alone (without an unbiased professional), is doable, but having help can make it so much easier. With Sheila and Nate being on their own, I find myself being concerned about this relationship. It has good bones, and limitless potential. But, they have the type of fights that end marriages FAST! And they need help with that…just like any other newlyweds.
Reason Four: Dear Newlyweds…It can work.
This relationship is not terminal…it is not toxic…it is healthy, I estimate, about 80% of the time, maybe more. But the fights are toxic…terminal…and unhealthy 100% of the time. That is the problem, and it isn’t even about them.
The way Sheila and Nate fight is alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll about their histories. Relationships that went amuck, unmet expectations, past hurts, and the like. These have to be dealt with so that Sheila and Nate can deal with each other in an authentic space. Every couple includes two people who have had experiences prior to this relationship.
It has to be said (and this is only my opinion), that sometimes the more you love someone the more afraid you can become. You are afraid to lose what you’ve found, and it makes you hyper-sensitive to the issues that come up. You reflect on the past, and those similarities make you think that you’re about to lose again. That’s okay. You are entitled to your feelings and your needs. We just have to create a strategy where you deal with these issues in a way that keeps this relationship moving in the direction you want. Otherwise, the fears and baggage continue to weigh down the relationship, and as you struggle through resolving these hurtful exchanges, it gets harder and harder to stay connected and enjoy the great times that your love wants to afford you.
Bottom line for Sheila and Nate, and anyone else who just got married (even not at first sight), is that there is help, and there is no shame in asking for it. As newlyweds, you have to learn to navigate your life together. It is a bumpy, winding, twisting, and sometimes even invisible road, but it is worth it…love is always worth it, because love never fails! (A little Biblical reference for you guys! Smile!)
Sheila and Nate…call The Relationship Firm…we can help. We promise! #ShamelessPlug #ButASeriousOne