‘Married at First Sight’ Season 9 Decision Day: The Good and the Gone

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Married at First Sight Season 9 has truly sailed by for North Carolina couples Elizabeth Bice and Jamie Thompson, Greg Okotie and Deonna McNeill, Keith Manley and Iris Caldwell, and Matt Gwynne and Amber Bowles.  Decision Day finally arrived on the September 11 episode of the reality drama depicting arranged marriages.  Two couples made the brave leap to stay married and deepen their love, and two bid farewell.

Harder than anyone thinks

One certainty that Married at First Sight vividly conveys is that marriage is much harder than anyone ever imagines.  It’s not a process of “we love each other and we just flow together” as Jamie Thompson assumed before he and Elizabeth Bice exchanged vows.  Marriage is also not about looks, fantasies, or intimacy as seen in the movies.  It is about coming home exhausted from a workweek and still making time to listen and to let a spouse feel important and loved, and a million more things.

Amber Bowles gave her full heart and effort in her relationship with Matt Gwynne, but never got the genuine feeling of love or respect.  The middle school teacher did stand up for herself in front of the experts, disclosing her Married at First Sight groom’s unfaithfulness from the beginning.

Amber doesn’t hold back on Married at First Sight

Matt’s long stretches away from home, without his wedding ring, were huge red flags to Amber, who now admits: “I should’ve walked out the first time he didn’t come home.”  She also compromised her sense of self-worth and personal standards “beyond any other relationship” in her life.   She still has feelings for Matt, telling him that “we’re perfect on paper– you’re everything I want.” Without truth, nothing works, and even the experts agreed that this divorce decision was better for both.  “I’m glad you spoke your truth,” Dr. Viviana Coles encouraged Amber.

Matt not only had trouble being honest with the experts, but he also got downright ugly and totally untruthful at a cookout party with Elizabeth and Jamie later.  Iris Caldwell and Elizabeth confronted the basketball player with why he would hurt his wife so deeply with cheating, even brought to her attention by other teachers at her school.  “I thought she was a friend,” Gwynne defended at that point.

He certainly didn’t seem to think of her as a friend in Antigua.  When Amber and the other wives pressed more, Matt responded with “Case closed,” and made an early exit.  Even the other husbands were glad to see him go.  If Amber holds onto her newfound inner strength, she’s sure to find worthy love in her future.

Iris Caldwell never hid her heart from Keith, despite her struggles with intimacy and yielding her virginity.  She said straight out that “this guy” who was brought to her by the experts was the one she saw in her future.

Issues of emotional maturity likely played more of a part in Keith’s decision than any physical obstacles.  It was very difficult to witness Iris’ weeping after being told that she was a wonderful woman, but “not one for me” by her Married at First Sight match.  Still, the couple shared a tender goodbye to their shared apartment, and Iris confirmed that “I will be good” at some point soon.  There was also a heartfelt embrace at the cookout.

In it for real

Greg was the first of the Season 9 grooms to pledge his commitment to marriage.  Married at First Sight fans were dancing in their PJs upon hearing his words.  Deonna, as expected, was much more reserved.  She did promise her husband that she would continue to share her feelings and that she was committed to “growing in love.” “I’m growing in love, too!” Greg insisted.

Whether it was the champagne or not, Deonna seemed absolutely giddy after the formal decision.  The patience and commitment to the process from this couple has been an inspiration to viewers and to the other couples involved.

Jamie is certainly an admirer of Greg.  The example of the thoughtful learning Center owner has been a calming influence for the couple whose fights reached atomic levels in split seconds.   Jamie and Elizabeth declared their love early, and they now realize that they are still learning to love.  It only took a few minutes for Elizabeth to tell Jamie that “a lot more good things” come out from being together than the bad, and she wanted to stay married.

Jamie took a long narrative of the issues that have been sticking points.  He even chose to revisit bedroom issues, then and there.  “You’re scaring me,” Elizabeth reminded.   He closed with the assurance that “there’s too much good” to walk away and let any situation get worse.  Even the experts were stunned, but still joyfully surprised.  Dr. Pepper Schwartz wiped away tears.

“He’s crazy, but he’s my kind of crazy,” gushed Elizabeth.

There’s no rule book to work for every marriage, and writing your own love story is what the years together are for.  This pair is learning to live in the moment, and no one knows how many of those are left for a lifetime.

Five new couples start a new Married at First Sight in January on Lifetime. Don’t miss this new season.

Tresa Patterson

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