Nate Duhon was fed up with single life when he signed on to marry a stranger. Now, the Married at First Sight participant opens up about how being matched with Sheila Downs has changed him, and why viewers might have gleaned the wrong impression of his relationship with his mother.
The Chicago-based business manager, 26, says the most difficult transition has been shifting his mindset from “me” to “we.” “When [you’re] single, you do what you want, when you want and how you want,” he tells The Knot. “When married, you’ve got to make the necessary adjustments. Being single is not anything I miss—it tends to get boring after a while.”
Although Downs, 31, was initially concerned by the age difference between she and her husband, Duhon assures us the age gap is a non-issue. “My age has never been something that I saw as a problem,” he maintains. “I’m an extremely light-hearted individual who loves to enjoy life.”
People call Duhon mature for his age, “but I just say I’m mature,” he says. “Whether I’m 26 or 46, you will see me laughing and cracking jokes. That’s just me and has never taken away from my ability to handle serious manners in an effective way.”
It took time for Downs to grow accustomed to her husband’s high-energy nature. “As it turns out, she is very similar,” he says. “Sheila is an even bigger kid at heart than me, and I like that about her.”
After watching the other season 5 couples, Anthony D’Amico and Ashley Petta, and Cody Knapek and Danielle Degroot, Duhon has realized that it takes patience, sacrifice and open communication to keep a marriage thriving. “We all have our challenges to overcome, and the more you are able to openly discuss things with your partner, the easier it is to come to a resolution,” he shares.
One ongoing conversation between the newlyweds has been the building tension between Duhon’s mother and his wife. “I was taken aback by my disapproving mother-in-law,” Downs told The Knot previously.
Duhon, however, says his mom is not opposed to the marriage. “My mother just isn’t a fan of taking big risks,” he notes. “The way the marriages are arranged is risky and that worries her.”
According to Duhon, jealousy is simply not a factor. “[My mother] has never been jealous of Sheila,” he says. “A wife and a mother are two different roles. My mother has fulfilled her role and will continue to be special to me. As for Sheila and I, there has not been any jealousy either.”
The newlywed explains that time constraints don’t allow viewers to witness the entirety of interactions on the show. “My mother is a wise woman who has her own opinions,” he tells us. “I’m the same way, so we have moments where we express those opinions, but we never stay mad at each other. Viewers aren’t always able to see our entire conversations.”
Communication has helped Duhon and Downs to work through any disagreements. Duhon says, “If there is ever a time where we haven’t handled it to the best of our ability, we are able to reflect and see the error in our ways and move forward in a productive manner.”
The pair are equally invested in the experiment. “I didn’t sign up for easy; I signed up for marriage and vowed for better or worse,” Downs told The Knot in May. “Outside of faith, my biggest prerequisite was to be matched with someone who was equally committed. I was all in.”
Duhon reiterates that patience is a virtue when it comes to marrying a stranger. “Being married to someone who you’ve never met is a challenge and you have to be patient and trust the process in order for it to work,” he concludes to The Knot. “If you’re able to do that, then you’ll see the payoff.”
Tune in to Married at First Sight on Lifetime on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.