This is a ‘novels’ blog, and I decided that “reality” TV shows are something ‘novel’ about which something needs to be written. I confess. I am Catholic and I watch reality TV. Sometimes. Maybe more than I should. And admit it, a lot of you do too. I want to talk about one in particular, because marriage is under attack.
Married at First Sight—the one TV show that my poor husband has to listen to me rant about (and also Breaking Bad, but anyways…). Why? Because it makes an absolute mockery of marriage. Not only that, it also makes single people looking for marriage look like desperate idiots. And I hate to say it, but most of the poor people on this show are. Single people from all over the United States are interviewed and fill out a personality survey of sorts so that they can be scientifically matched up with someone. Not to date. Not to be friends. To marry. And it’s real. If it doesn’t work out, they have to divorce. Not break up. Divorce. As if the divorce rate isn’t high enough, this show feels like they need to increase it.
As we know, marriage is already under attack and its foundation is crumbling. It is no longer seen as something sacred between a man and wife. It can be between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, or a woman and a roller coaster, or a woman and herself…. So if marriage is no longer sacred, this show is a symptom of the larger disease that is spreading. Marriage is now something that can be manipulated and played with. If young people can’t find who they’re supposed to marry, let’s force them to marry someone they don’t know and see if it works out. Some people are so desperate, they will do it. And it’s true, they do. (Side note: This is completely different from an arranged marriage—families actually know each other and the two betrothed typically meet beforehand.)
But the Church views marriage so differently… thank God. When a man and woman say those vows, they have to mean them. They cannot be forced or coerced. They must agree to have children or at least try. It is a mutual self-giving. And it is work. And it is not easy. And you cannot just divorce when it gets too hard.
So, please tell me how two people who have never spoken and never seen each other supposed to take vows and mean them? In my opinion, the Church would have no issues proclaiming all of these marriages null because they are, in a way, being coerced, and they can’t possibly mean what they say. This show makes marriage an absolute joke.
Then, after six weeks, the couple must decide if they will remain married or get divorced. I’m sorry, what? Let me tell you something. As someone who spent a long time looking and praying for a spouse, I can tell you it is emotionally draining and very difficult. Once you throw divorce into the mix, the stakes are much higher. The emotional toll, the physical toll, not to mention the legal drama. I would rather remain single than marry the wrong person. And these people will suffer. Then they have to try again? The hard truth is that not many single people will want to date you if they knew you made a crazy decision like marrying someone you never met and then divorcing them after six weeks…on television. Yikes.
Honestly, I feel very sorry for the people on this show. I understand and I remember the heartache of being single when you feel like you are called to marriage and family life. I also remember how hard it is to find a decent person to date and get along with for more than 24 hours. But please do not mock the sacredness of marriage by forcing yourself into it. Date as many wrong people as you want. That’s what dating is for. But do not marry as many wrong people as you want. That is not marriage and it is an insult to people who are married.
People who take their marriage seriously work at it to make it awesome. And it’s not always awesome. And when it sucks, they still work at it. Because that is what it is about: loving someone so much that you still make it work even when you don’t feel like it, or they’re annoying you, or they’re sick, or they’re dying, or you’re sick, or you’re dying.
Single people, I know, it is hard. But please do not hurt yourself and another person by forcing something that God has not willed. Now, maybe some of these couples will work out. That would be great—good for them! But I still do not believe they would be truly married in the sight of God. Their vows at the time were still meaningless. And will they ever truly view marriage as the Sacrament that it should be? What will their children learn from their example if they are never taught what marriage truly means?
It pains me to think that there are young people out there who feel that desperate measures like this are the only choice. It’s a wake-up call to all of us—we must be good examples. Both single and married folk must contribute to the effort. Before God calls us to any single or married vocation, he first calls us to be holy men and women of God, regardless of our social status. Let us remember this and maybe we can heal some of these wounds that have been inflicted on the Sacrament of Marriage.