“Do you want to stay married, or do you want to get a divorce?”
On Wednesday’s season 9 finale of the Lifetime reality TV show “Married at First Sight,” four couples answered that question.
Only eight weeks ago, each of the couples met for the first time as strangers at the altar of their wedding ceremony. They were matched by experts Cal Roberson, Pepper Schwartz and Viviana Coles out of thousands of hopefuls.
Over the course of two months, we saw the Charlotte, North Carolina, newlyweds get married, honeymoon, move in together and meet each other’s friends and families.
Now the experiment is over. Here’s how each couple ended up.
Deonna McNeill, 30 and Gregory Okotie, 32
Deonna hadn’t been in a relationship for 10 years before marrying Greg and kept her emotional walls up. Greg, a classic overthinker, couldn’t help but spiral when Deonna wasn’t opening up as much as he needed her to.
Though Greg had his doubts about Deonna staying closed off, he was pleased to see her change. “I’ve seen so much growth in her the past 8 weeks,” said Greg, stating he wants to stay married.
Luckily, so did his bride.
Though the pair isn’t in love just yet, they both acknowledged that they’re “growing in love” and on the right track.
“This kind of feels like a fairy tale,” said Deonna.
“It really does our part so much good when we see two people who decided to get the best out of this,” said expert Roberson. “I think it’s going to be a love story for the ages.”
Iris Caldwell, 27 and Keith Manley, 27
Iris, the show’s first virgin castmember, was worried throughout her marriage that her sexual past would be too much for husband Keith to handle. “I can’t say that I’m sexually frustrated but it’s definitely been an obstacle,” said Keith, on decision day.
Though Iris said that Keith had “shut down” over her virginity and sex, “overall I do want to see where this goes, so I do want to stay married,” she said.
Frustrated with Iris’ lack of relationship experience, Keith knew the relationship wouldn’t last.
“I just want to let you know how grateful I am to have met somebody that just pushed me in so many ways I just had no idea I needed to be pushed in,” he told his wife. “Right now, I do think that we are in different places individually and for that reason, I would like to get a divorce.”
Expert Pepper Schwartz was surprised at the decision.
“I’m disappointed and a little bit stunned actually, but it is what it is … I’m just truly sorry it’s not turning out the way I hoped,” she said.
Amber Bowles, 27 and Matthew Gwynne, 32
Though Matt and Amber were one of the strongest couples starting out, that quickly changed when Matt stopped coming home at night, choosing to stay out partying with his friends.
On Decision Day, Amber decided to confront him in front of the experts.
While at school where she works as a teacher, Amber said, “all these teachers pulled me in a classroom and a teacher was like ‘look at what your husbands doing.’ ” They showed her screenshots of Matt messaging a woman he had met at a bar to ask her out on a date, she said.
“And then my best friend Raven saw him talking to a girl at a bar for a really long time and then he left with the girl,” continued Amber.
“Looking back, I think there was a time where I felt we were just friends but I was also holding out hope,” Matt said.
“Holding out hope while you’re dating?” asked Schwartz.
Unsurprisingly, the two decided to split up.
“Matt has been ungentlemanly, unkind and unfaithful. I’m relieved actually that Amber and Matt both said they wanted a divorce,” said Schwartz.
Elizabeth Bice, 29 and Jamie Thompson, 35
Jamie and Beth both called off their highly-volatile relationship several times before Decision Day, only to get back together and start their emotional rollercoaster over again. No one could have predicted what their final decisions would be.
“I think that we have a lot of positive things to bring into each other’s life,” Beth told Jamie. “But you’ve done some pretty effed up things and called me pretty choice words.”
“I think that I would be really crazy if I didn’t stay with you. I want to stay in this marriage,” she said.
“I see two people who love each other but sometimes don’t know how to love each other or love each other in a right way,” said Jamie.
Through all the bad, he was on the same page: “I think there’s too much good to throw away, so my answer is yes, I want to stay married,” he said.
Expert Viviana Coles hopes they stay on this positive path.
“They really have seemed to harnesse that passion between them and appreciate it,” she said. “But I’m hoping they’ll keep the toxicity at bay and the good vibes between them will really flourish.”
See where the couples are months after Decision Day during next week’s reunion, Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. on Lifetime