Now, the expert explains. Pastor Calvin Roberson, one of the matchmaking panelists on season 4 of FYI’s Married at First Sight, says he firmly believes that Derek Schwartz and Heather Seidel had the ability to succeed.
Unfortunately, the couple’s marriage came to an end on the Tuesday, September 13, episode, when Heather announced that she wanted to divorce Derek — just two weeks after they’d married. Viewers speculated that the union failed, perhaps, because the two weren’t compatible from the start. The experts, however, had well-intended reasons for pairing the Miami-based flight attendant, 32, and account executive, 35, together.
Read The Knot’s exclusive Q&A with Pastor Cal below.
1. This was a heavy episode and clearly, you didn’t want the two to proceed with divorce. Why did you feel that they should’ve remained in the marriage and why did you believe they were compatible?
You are absolutely right! I truly didn’t want them to divorce. We have all heard it said that “marriage takes work,” but I have to admit that no one can be adequately prepared for the difficulty these couples encounter in marrying a complete stranger. Even after extensive questionnaires, personal interviews, psychological evaluations, etc., we still cannot guarantee marital success.
Every couple we match has the potential to succeed and Derek and Heather are no exception. Heather is an intelligent, fun-loving person with a loving connection to her parents. Derek is adventurous, career oriented and has a very flexible and accommodating nature. He also has a great relationship with his mother. They also share similar spiritual backgrounds. These, among other compatible qualities, were the reasons they were matched.
They, as with all our selected couples, have all the basic ingredients necessary to be successful. The question is whether they will be patient, transparent, flexible and committed enough to stay in the relationship through the early struggles, until they can see the real reasons why they were matched.
2. What would you have suggested Heather do differently about her behavior? Did you think there was even the slightest chance after the honeymoon?
Both Heather and Derek had areas in which they could have helped the marriage. Sometimes, a person can talk themselves out of happiness by looking at the problems more than the solutions. Heather’s focus on the smoking and the early conflict caused her to build an emotional wall that was difficult for her to see beyond and tough for Derek to breach. Once a person constantly tells herself she can’t do a certain thing, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Heather has great qualities that could have been a benefit in Derek’s life if she could have stuck it out.
Derek, on the other hand, probably needed to give Heather space. His eagerness to be emotionally and physically close may have been too much for her. Also during their arguments, he said hurtful things that added bricks to the wall she was building. Fighting fire with fire may work in a military conflict, but never in relationships, because both parties will be consumed. Hurt people in relationships battle with fire. Healthy people use water to diffuse the conflict.
There was still a good chance for Derek and Heather to make their relationship work, even after the honeymoon. However, by that time, Heather felt overwhelmed, which meant her emotional wall was too intimidating for her to conquer. However, the truth is only she was able to tear it down. Derek definitely wanted to continue, but of course marriage takes two.
3. What do you suggest she works on now that the marriage has ended?
I believe Heather can still be happily married, even if not to Derek. She still has wonderful qualities, but she has to be open to the positive suggestions and counsel of people who care about her. She heard her friend Amber give her solid advice about staying in the relationship and giving it a chance, but she chose not to listen. While I understand Heather’s desire to make her own decisions, a person can’t find success in relationships or life by only listening to their own soundtrack. They need the input of trusted friends, family members and counselors.
Successful relationships require commitment. True commitment is about completely engaging yourself in a pursuit in spite of temporary conflict or challenges. Commitment is much deeper than just feeling good about the situation you’re in. Feelings are transitory and undependable. They will come and go, but commitment pushes through the challenges, with the belief that eventually the reward and the good feelings will come if you simply stay in the game and work together. Heather will have to embrace this principle to succeed in future relationships.
I believe Derek is also a great marriage candidate. While he wants to be in a happy relationship, he has to pace himself. One reason Derek was chosen is because of his flexibility and willingness to comply and work toward a resolution. I believe he could have been a great partner for Heather, however, I would want Derek to not fight fire with fire. It’s easier to lash out when you feel hurt as opposed to taking the higher road. But in successful relationships, you learn that sometimes you have to yield in order to gain.
While some may say I have been more stern with Heather than with Derek, that’s not at all the case. Derek was flexible and willing to move forward in the relationship, so there was no need to persuade him to stay. He was going to fight through the difficulty. Now of course, had they moved forward, Derek would have had some personal challenges we would have discussed, but we never reached that point.
5. What can viewers who are hopeful for love take away from this situation?
It is our sincerest hope that this experiment will give viewers an opportunity to believe in love. We don’t do this for dramatic or just cinematic effect, but with the hope that every couple succeeds. I believe people can learn about relationship success in two ways: observation of a situation or participation in a situation. I personally would prefer to learn from observing someone’s mistakes and doing differently, rather than having to go through those same issues myself.
I pray our viewers will observe Derek and Heather’s relationship and realize that we all have within us the potential to be happy and successfully married. But remember, potential is only possibility. People live their entire lives with inactivated potential. The only thing that activates it is doing the difficult work even when you don’t feel like it. The difficult work is being committed, forgiving, transparent and willing to reconcile. If they can do this, they can overcome just about anything. This is not easy and divorce statistics bear out that many choose to quit as opposed to pushing through. This is why my wife and I will often say in our Married and Naked conferences, marriage is not for punks!
Married at First Sight airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on FYI.