Married at First Sight Recap: Finale

Finally, it’s Decision Day! While exciting, it’s also hard not to be a little cautious about getting too wrapped up in the excitement. After all, six weeks is more of an arbitrary deadline that’s more production driven than a time frame actually related to the couples’ relationships.

Maybe I’m (Aminda) a little jaded after Season 3, which featured this absolutely fun and likeable couple who were both totally into each other and chose, with hardly any hesitation, to stay married. By time the reunion show filmed, they had already broken up. Previews for this season’s reunion episode are already hinting that this might be the case again. That literally gets me choked up.

So, I had to go back and review what I wrote after the very first episode.

Hopefully they all find their happily ever after, but whether they do or don’t, I’m still going to enjoy sharing their experience. I’ve read a lot of social media comments from people describing the last two seasons as terrible failures because none of the couples stayed together. To which I want to respond, if you want a guaranteed love story go watch a scripted romantic comedy. Or even the Bachelor, where the couple is at least guaranteed to be together until the end of filming (whether they want to be or not). Personally, I don’t want there to be pressure on these couples to stay together for the audience. I want them to have permission to be true to themselves because that’s exactly what differentiates MAFS from most current reality TV.

I’m struggling with this right now. I still 100 percent agree that it has been a good season, despite the outcome. But… the reason it has been a good season it because these couples are all really likeable. Which makes me genuinely want them to find the lasting marriage they are looking for.

I’ve never had any doubts that Lilly and Tom have found that marriage. These two are solid. So the first hour of the finale was gut wretching to watch, as Lilly experienced ulcer-inducing panic over Tom’s indecision. It was crushing to hear Tom say that he’s starting to realize that “Lilly is not the exact person I was hoping for.” Thank God he came around to realize the truth in the fact that you can’t always get what you want… but sometimes you find you get what you need. It’s probably safe to say that NOBODY marries a cookie cutter image of who they think they think they want to be married to. NOBODY. (including you, Heather).

Now, being believers in a higher power, I give credit to God for not giving me (Aminda) exactly what I wanted in a husband. He’s not the man of my dreams. Nope, instead I got a husband who is so much more amazing than I ever could have dreamed up for myself. Just like Tom, who found his sexy, compassionate and loving Lilly, I tossed my stupid checklist out the window and let God rewrite it.

I can also see why Tom, even if he’s happy and not quite ready to break up,  feels the need to consider all these different angles of their marriage. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on these couples to make a huge decision in a short time with a lot of outside stressors.

Anyway, back to the show. The vision board exercise is new this year, and seemed to mostly be a positive addition. It was just a little frustrating to hear Lilly and Tom basically set out the same goals without seeing it, because the means to their end are different. They both want a lifestyle of freedom and flexibility. Lilly wants it through building assets (that will produce passive income), Tom wants it by reducing assets. Tom, I respect the minimalist values but you might really appreciate Lilly’s hard work in 30-40 years. Just sayin.

The vision board experience was positive enough for Sonia to feel comfortable moving back in, at least for a night. Though Nick still seems slightly butt hurt that she didn’t move in sooner, how many times did Nick say that he wanted to have kids with Sonia? I really should have counted, as it was just about the most open Nick has been all season.

In an interview, Sonia mentioned that she and Nick had discussed how different things would be once the cameras were gone and life was a little more normal. Even Tom and Lilly (who Tom suddenly started calling Lillian during interviews… did that reflect his shifting emotions towards her?) seemed a little more strained and reserved in front of the cameras than usual. The whole joke about the matching outfits on the night before decision day just felt a little forced.

Speaking of forced, that’s exactly how the decision day outcome felt. Each person’s declaration felt so unnatural and disjointed, the way they had to tease the audience. Like, Lilly has been telling us for the past hour that she wants to stay with Tom, but then goes and says “I would like to grow in love, but I have decided that… Duh, duh, duuuuuuh….. I would like to stay married to you.

That makes NO sense at all, why pile on nervousness to an already tense situation by making her memorize something so ridiculous sounding. Come on, MAFS, that’s sinking to Bachelor-level lows.

It made a little more sense with Sonia, since she’s been on the fence. I mean, that was the longest commercial break ever leaving us hanging to hear her decision to stay married.

So, two couples stay married and after such a warm and fuzzy finale, it’s heart breaking to see Nick without his ring in the reunion show previews. Hopefully the ring is just getting cleaned… but that’s doubtful.

It was way fun to see the couples meet each other. I seem to remember in Season One, the three couples all met each other prior to decision day. Makes me curious about why that wasn’t carried forward, as it seems like it provided the couples some good support and outside perspective from people who actually understood what they are all going through. At least now they have that support to help them transition to off-camera life.

Season 4 Married at First Sight Recap: Episode 3

The wedding night has arrived and is ushered in by an ominous reminder from pastor Roberson that although these couples just met and don’t know a lot about each other, ”they are husband and wife. Legally. Married.”. Dun, dun, duuuuuun.”

Tension builds as we, along with Nick’s friends, make bets on who will consummate that legal marriage, and who won’t.

Rachel advises the couples to approach the night with an “optimistic point of view.” And we hear a lot of optimistic comments from the couples, like Tom “Seeing her sexy lips grab the strawberry and tear into it – kind of a turn on”

One thing that isn’t a turn on is Sonia’s (who’s looking super cute in her retro PJ’s) subtle jabs to Nick’s masculinity. First she fears that he’s too scrawny to carry her over the threshold. Then later she describes him “definitely a little metro,” with “girly ways” after hearing that he is the “best ironer alive.” (which makes him a keeper to every woman alive)

Heather is the only one doesn’t leave us in suspense, telling us flat out that she has “No intentions of having sex”. Later she clarifies that she eventually does want to be intimate but is conscience of “not making this feel like a hookup.” OK, we can respect that.

Sonia is hit with the realization that what’s really weird about this whole situation is not being in a hotel room with a stranger (let’s remember that one-night-stands happen), but the fact that there’s a camera man document her wedding night.

But because she can’t admit that on camera, she takes a self deprecating approach. “I’m terrible at this”, to which Nick replies “you’re perfect”. So sweet and subtle, just like his “I love her” from the previous episode.

18t69yWe Nick’s friends wait impatiently as we get the token shot of the Do Not Disturb sign as the hotel room door closes, then we skip ahead to the morning-after diary cam. Everyone is lovey dovey, snuggling and kissing in bed. OK, except Derek and Heather. They are not snuggling, they are discussing their favorite vegetables. (and mom’s across America argue that corn doesn’t count as a vegetable, it’s a starch).

But it’s just a tease as one-by-one they reveal that all three couples had a chaste night. Maybe that’s a good sign, as only one MAFS couple has (confessed to) DTD on the wedding night and they didn’t stay together.

Tom is a fount of imagery and after saying that meeting Lily was like “sparks and lightning bolts.” It’s hard to believe their wedding night was so uneventful. He addresses that by confirming that he’s really excited to make it happen. And “not just because I’m horny.” He’s happy to wait for the moment that’s going to be “like a champagne bottle and explode.”

Once diary cam duty is completed, the couples get to find out where they are honeymooning. Nick will get his first passport stamp in the Dominican while flight-attendant Heather being all “yawn”, off to Puerto Rico again.

Heather should be thankful that Derek’s not headed to Jamaica (more on that later) like Tom and Lily, and that because the show is doing well enough to earn a little product placement this season, she don’t have to honeymoon in Phoenix in June. (yes, that really happened in season 3, and that couple never recovered).

The Season 4 couples get off easy at the post wedding family brunch, it seems that expert Rachel has briefed the families that this is supposed to be a time of “encouragement and support.” Not just a time to joke about what did or didn’t happen the night before (which we’ve seen in previous season). The families follow their marching orders, as Lily (rocking her beautiful new necklace from Tom) tells us that she hasn’t heard negative things from anyone.

Expert Rachel checks in before departure and encourages the couples to spend their honeymoon “making memories.” But Tom tells us that he plans to take a break from his champagne dreams for some serious talk. He has to prepare Lily for the reality that he lives in a bus.

Previews hint that maybe he doesn’t get around to this… but he at least starts dropping hints, getting her to swear that she could “live anywhere.” Anywhere, really? Like one of those “Tiny houses” anywhere? So, Tom is satisfied that he’s sufficiently prepped Lily and she is sufficiently not “high maintenance.” But Pastor Roberson doesn’t let him off the hook.

“One of the red flags for Tom,” says Roberson, “and I don’t want to throw him under the bus… but he lives in one.” Har har.

But then he continues on to point out that “It’s important that he tells Lillian because after the honeymoon… they’re going there.” Good point.

Fortunately, Tom has more tricks up his sleeve. “My thing is that I’d much rather eat some food before talking about issues. Because when you’re hungry nothing good happens. Brilliant. This is the kind of quote that should be on a motivation calendar.

Rachel also has some seriously great relationship wisdom “vulnerability is important for this process… being willing to show the sides of you that you might not think someone would fall in love with but the probably would.” As Sonia’s teary reaction tells us, that can be so hard, to believe that someone out there could not only put up with, but actually love things about us that we consider flaws.

Soon though, Sonia and Nick have jetted off on their honeymoon and are bonding over corny jokes (S: “It’s kinda hot”. N: “or I’m kinda hot?”) and solidifying their soulmate status based on a mutual dislike of mustard.

Derek and Heather start out joking about which super power they would choose. Oh wait, even that is serious because Heather has “thought about this multiple times. Because it’s a big deal.” She would speak every language (OK, that’s actually a really good one).

But what is an actual big deal is the major anxiety Heather is getting as she gets to know more about Derek beyond his kind, laid back façade (or maybe the reason he is so good natured). “Derek smoked right before dinner. If I was going out with a guy and he’d been smoking, no way I’d go out with him again.” This isn’t Derek’s only vice, he also likes to drink and gamble. “I don’t want to be judgmental,” says Heather. “I want to give Derek chance to be himself. I want to make sure I don’t start getting pissy about little things.” Eat some food, Heather, eat some food.

Before anyone goes crying foul that Heather shouldn’t have been matched with a smoker, Dr. Pepper jumps in to defend the team. “During the process, Heather said she didn’t mind if someone smoked occasionally and of course we respected that. The point of this experiment is to start with commitment. Stop looking for flaws and start looking for why they were matched.”

Unfortunately some more digging reveals smoking to be Derek’s daily habit, and a quick visit to dictionary.com declares Heather to be the winner in this semantics debate. Occasionally is defined as “irregulary”, so she is correct in that something done every day would not be considered occasionally.

So this may be a SPOILER ALERT ….. but a tweet from Heather indicated that maybe it’s not just cigarettes that Derek is smoking? And that it’s enough of a problem to break their deal/vows? Hopefully not!

heather seidel ‏@heather_mafs  Aug 8

My dealbreakers:

Anger issues

Violent tendencies

Substance abuse issues #realtalk

Wedded Wednesday – Our Story Continues

The early evening sun dropped behind Camelback Mountain bathing the boulders in shade and providing relief from the summer heat.

Next to one of those boulders, scattered about the base of the mountain, I found Josh, waiting with a big grin on his face and a warm welcome, even for the girl with the attitude.

Young and in love
Young and in love

Just like the mountain crags were muted by the dusk, my sharp edges instantly softened around Josh, as happens to people meeting him. I quickly knew that I wanted him to be a part of my life. We swapped tales of our shared loves of mountain biking and climbing. He intrigued me with stories of his canyoneering and rafting adventures (activities I hadn’t yet tried, but was excited about) and inspired me through his fledgling business and ministry.

My birthday was the next week. Being a work night, I chose to celebrate with a night time mountain bike ride. Just as I arrived back at my front door, my cell phone buzzed. Josh was calling to invite me on a canyoneering outing. Though we just met, I couldn’t be happier to share my birthday with him.

A couple weeks later, Josh joined me for a night ride. Our canyoneering adventure followed soon after.  He welcomed me into his adventures and we started to create new ones all to ourselves. Five months after meeting, Josh spent Christmas in Oregon with my family. Things were getting serious.

We've come full circle with our bouldering baby
We’ve come full circle with our bouldering baby

I met Josh when I was 27, a time when many college friends had been married for a while and starting families. It was starting to feel like maybe I had been left behind.  But thankfully, I’m never forgotten or left behind – there is always a plan and purpose in place for my life. Even when I almost get in the way of myself. In this case it was a plan very much worth the wait – our life; our adventures together have been bigger than I dreamed.

I’m so thankful for these times in my life where God’s faithfulness shines. Whenever I feel impatient or stuck, I love to reflect back on these stories.

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11

Messy Marriage

 

Wedded Wednesday (A Story of Second Chances)

This week I (Aminda) continue the story of how Josh and I met. It must be said that this story is told entirely from my perspective. Josh would have had no idea this was all going on in my head!

“What do you mean, you’re not meeting here anymore,” I asked the guy on the other line.  Did you tell anyone you were changing plans?”

It was an afternoon at the end of June and I was standing in a parking lot in Scottsdale, Arizona. The intense summer heat was definitely giving my voice more of an edge than I would normally take with a stranger, especially one who was a friend of a friend. (Especially if I had known it was the man I would eventually marry.)

But let me back up. Since meeting in the spring, Susan and I had been getting together regularly for hiking and climbing. Which is what we were supposed to be doing when I ended up on the phone call in the parking lot. Susan had organized a get together for Solid Rock members at a local indoor climbing gym. When I finally got in touch with her I found she had become ill, and asked her friend Josh to take over the gathering.

Susan gave me Josh’s number and that’s when I found out that Josh had taken over by completely changing the plans! “I’m sorry you didn’t get my e-mail,” he said. “We’re bouldering at Camelback Mountain”

Engagement
We returned to Camelback two years later to take engagement photos.

“Camelback Mountain!” I exclaimed. That’s outside, isn’t it too hot? It will take me at least a half an hour to get there and by then it will be getting dark. I’m not sure it will be worth the drive, so, you probably won’t see me.”

“Who is this guy?” I muttered to myself, after ending the call and tearing angrily out of the parking lot.  “Thanks for completely wasting my time, Josh… whoever you are.” And once again, I almost missed the opportunity to meet Josh.

As I approached the turnoff towards Camelback, the little voice of reason inside my head started talking. “So, your time is so important, what are you going to do with it all now, huh? Go home and watch TV with your cats?”

OK, that’s a good point.

“Yes, it is. It wouldn’t hurt you to get out and meet some new people. You know, you might actually have a good time.”

OK, I get it, I thought, as I made the turn towards Camelback Mountain.

So there I go again – a second time I try to get out of meeting Josh and still get one more chance. Thank goodness God’s plans are bigger than me and he won’t let me – my pride, my stubborness, my fear – get in the way of myself!  Clearly, if it was solely up to me to get the job done, I’d still be living alone with my cats. (and Josh would probably be living out of his truck in the forest somewhere).

What about you – what second chances have you received?

Wedded Wednesday (Something Different)

So, this started as a travel blog, but there is much more to our lives than just travel and outdoor adventures. Faith and family are at the center. Especially now that we’re promoting a marriage book.

While we’ll continue to add family travel posts, we’ll also start a series of relationship posts as part of “Wedded Wednesdays.”

This April marks our 10th wedding anniversary, so we have a couple months to share the story of our marriage. Let’s start with how we met. The story our of meeting involves climbing, of course, and starts with a mutual friend, Susan. How Aminda met Susan is a story in itself.

IMG_20160223_202354885
Aminda climbing, 2004

It was the spring of 2004 and time for the annual Phoenix Bouldering Competition, a local rock-climbing event. Because the Comp was held on BLM land about 90 minutes outside of Phoenix, participants and spectators alike would camp out and make a weekend of it. I was going to cheer on some friends and had made plans to camp out with my good friend Kristi and a group that included a guy I had recently dated (but was no longer).  I was not really looking forward to joining them, so I was happy to run into another friend as I drove through the camping area. “Sure, you can camp here with us,” Chris said, before introducing me to his companions,  Dan and Mick.IMG_20160223_202317984

The highlight of the competition was the finale party where vendor booths provided product demos and entertainment.  I’m not a huge drinker, but with the alcohol being so cheap and plentiful, I let myself indulge more than usual.  So much so that I was too embarrassed to visit a booth I really wanted to – “Solid Rock Climbers for Christ.”  Since taking up the sport of rock-climbing two years before, I had yet to meet any climbers who were also Christians. How wonderful it would be to spend time with people who shared both my faith and my favorite pastime.

When the competition ended Sunday morning, Dan and Mick invited me to climb with them. At the crag, we met another group of three– two guys and gal. One of them wore a t-shirt from “Solid Rock climbers for Christ.”  Thank you God for giving me a second chance to connect with them!

Like me, Susan, wasn’t planning on being there that day—she had also met her partners at the event. What a coincidence! I didn’t leave without getting her contact information so we could get together again.

At the time I of course had no idea that this connection would eventually have such a life-altering impact on my life. I love reflecting back on this story and how God was moving. Sometimes when I’m feeling stagnant or getting restless for change to happen, all I have to do is remember stories like these, stories of how even the most mundane circumstances can be aligning to produce greatness.  What about you? Where can you look back and see God at work in unexpected circumstances?

Messy Marriage

Au revoir, Oh Canada

This week our trip winds down as we start our journey back south. Hard to believe—the last six weeks have gone so fast. The timing is perfect, though—we’re tired. Tired of carrying a pack, tired of hiking up (and down) steep hills, tired of wearing really uncomfortable shoes, tired of tweaking our bodies into unnatural positions. We’re ready for a week of R&R (well… maybe less) until we miss it again.

It’s difficult though. We’ve both really enjoyed Squamish and feel like we’re leaving with too many routes undone. We’ll miss the soft grades–good for the ego. We’ll miss pitches that have you use as many tree roots for holds as you do rock. Just good motivation to return.

And while Canada doesn’t exactly feel “foreign”, we’ll miss buying groceries with loonies and toonies. We’ll actually miss guide books that utilize the metric system, since that’s way more compatible with the ropes which are manufactured in metric lengths. And of course we’ll miss the beautiful scenery and friendly people.

This week the weather jumped from cold and rainy to dry and hot ensuring we got to the crags early to get the most out of the morning shade. Rest days found us doing touristy stuff… going to the farmer’s market, touring the Olympic Park (pretty unmemorable, sorry to report) and hanging out in Whistler Village — a cool outing since there was a mountain biking festival taking place. Which of course had us jonesin’ to get on our bikes again!

This week’s ticks

The Apron, Snake. Cool, wandery line with lots of slabby laybacking.

The Apron, Rock On. Steep and straight up. Nice, shady north-facing route, perfect on a 90 degree day.

Bit of cragging at the Chief Base (cool!), Smoke Bluffs (crowded!) and The Upper Malamute (windy!).

The guide’s life

So, I’m about a month behind in posting this…but the highlight of April for Josh and Aminda is celebrating our wedding anniversary – four fun-filled years. This year we celebrated by returning to our ceremony site to have drinks and enjoy the sunset.

Josh’s month has been packed as he’s teaching experiential outdoor classes every weekend in addition to teaching “classroom” courses (all for Community College) and running custom events.  From climbing to caving to canyoneering, the outdoor trips are as interesting as they are exhausting.  When we were first together I felt a little jealous that Josh would spend every weekend out on a fun adventure then wouldn’t have any time or energy left to do anything with me.  So he encouraged me to come along with him on a couple trips.  Doing so changed my attitude.

Josh is fortunate to do what he loves.  He has a fabulous job that’s a great fit for him.  But I know it’s hard work that’s not for everyone.  The work starts before every trip as he spends hours shopping for food, packing and organizing gear and responding to student questions.  Some of them are pretty weird, requiring some patience and tact.  Like the girl who wrote to ask whether “car camping” meant that the whole class would be sleeping together in the single van that they all travel in.

After spending two hours in that van with 12-14 strangers, Josh then gets to guide them through the day’s adventures.  Here, he plays the role of guide and gear-schlepper extraordinaire.  He often travels twice the distance as his students, running ahead of them to make sure the path is clear, then back again to the end of the line to make sure everyone’s still in it. And he usually carries a pack that’s twice as large.  In canyoneering for example, the students are already carrying a good amount of personal gear such as wetsuits and helmets, so Josh gets stuck with everything else; the ropes, hardware and other weighty gear.  The best part is that during the day, it all gets wet, so on the hike out the pack weighs twice as much as it did on the way in.

Then, back at camp Josh turns into master of camp cuisine. He whips up tasty concoctions that simmer in carefully stacked Dutch-ovens.  Tortilla pie and brownies and night then up again early to make pancakes and eggs.  He stays motivated to complete this chore by entertaining himself with student eating contests.  Nobody’s eating their veggies?  He’ll take care of that by daring them to eat the biggest handful of lettuce, straight out of the bag.  Deeeelicious!

Finally, since these are classes after all, he does play coach and counselor.  These definitely aren’t the type of classes that you just stand in front of and lecture. More often, Josh will be standing over five inexperienced belayers, watching them like a hawk to make sure all the climbers return home safely.  In this role he gets to create a quasi-cohesive and supportive team out of 10-20 strangers.  When the group includes one of those special people that are just a little harder to get along with, Josh gets to be the one that takes the lead in being their buddy.

In the climbing class, there is often the cocky 18-year-old that thinks he’s invincible. Josh gets to diplomatically reign him in a little – trying hard is good, popping a tendon, not so much.  Perhaps the most awkward situation for him is the out-of-shape girl on the caving trip.  There’s always one.  And she always approaches that narrow, unyielding passageway with complete confidence.  Then, in the complete darkness of the cave, she’s fully confronted with what no mirror can show her – she’s bigger then she thought she was.  Thankfully, professor Josh is there to comfort her until she stops crying and continues on.

So, I’ll just stay at home, thank you – maybe spend the weekend with other friends or on my own projects. I’ll just be sure to have dinner ready for him when he gets home…and maybe a massage.