Beliefnet
Oh My Stars

Dear Producers:

I’ve recently started watching your show on A&E called Married At First Sight, where couples who have never met are matched up by experts and marry each other when they meet for the first time at the wedding ceremony. Even if you’ve never watched it, you can probably already see how this premise adds up to some pretty entertaining Reality TV, even if it doesn’t result in a lot of successful long-term partnerships. There are versions of this show in several countries around the world, but I can tell you that the American version has been on for three seasons, with three couples per season… and that the first two seasons resulted in five failed matches and one successful (so far) pairing.

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Oh, you crazy kids in love…

Hey: lots of people watch NASCAR for the racing, but if the average race involved 2/3rds or more of the cars crashing? I’d be watching too. I love a happy ending as much as anyone, but let’s not forget that schadenfreude is the fuel that makes most Reality TV actually work.

So who are these “experts” who make these matches (and end up retroactively defending these matches that don’t usually work out)? We have a Professor of Sociology who coined the term “lesbian bed death” (look it up), a sex expert who wrote a book called “How To Get Your Wife To Have Sex With You,” a clinical psychologist and personal coach who wrote an e-book called “Life Explained In 100 Pages” which credits Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) as a co-author (let’s all just pause here for a second and raise an eyebrow at that, shall we?), and a “spiritual adviser” who is a Humanist Rabbi who wrote a book about what Not Religious people believe in (SPOILER ALERT: it’s not religion!).

Now — can you tell me what all of those experts have in common (besides more appearances on The Rachel Ray Show and/or Dr. Oz than you or I have)? That’s right… none of them have as much hands-on experience with what makes for successful (or unsuccessful) relationships than the average full-time professional astrologer.

You want to hook up arranged marriages? Why not consult the people who have been doing that for centuries now?

Yes, the people who make the decisions about who should marry whom on this show may have the cultural imprimatur of public respectability because they have degrees from places you’ve mostly heard of, but just because they’re experts in their fields doesn’t make them experts in the alchemy it takes to forge a successful relationship from two individuals.

When you consider that even marriages that people get into slowly (and without a film crew watching) have something approaching a 50% failure rate, we shouldn’t reasonably expect a Reality Show that throws strangers together to perform much better. Cultures that are more accepting of arranged marriages tend to have different standards for these things that make them work, mostly, better than they would in typical modern Western society. Even so: watching “Married At First Sight” has convinced me that astrology understands at least something better about relationships than the modern Social Sciences do.

NEXT TIME: Some reasons relationships fail that you can’t blame on astrology… and a couple that you can (sort of).

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