If Cody Knapek could time travel, he’d opt for a honeymoon do-over. The season 5 Married at First Sight participant fell fast for his wife, Danielle Degroot, but a communication breakdown in St. Thomas halted their budding romance.
Now that he’s had time to reflect, the Chicago-based entrepreneur, 26, tells The Knot that he’s seen the error of his ways, beginning with a few of his comments during the honeymoon. Primarily, that time when he suggested focusing on friendship in lieu of physical intimacy, which resulted in an instant rift.
“I definitely regret saying that,” Knapek readily admits. “Wanting to take a step back was a combination of my own fears and letting other people that weren’t very supportive of the experiment get into my head. At the end of the day, I should have never let that happen.”
Knapek’s words were not a true indication of his feelings for his wife. “Truthfully I was smitten during the whole process, even on the day I told her I wanted to pull back,” he admits. That pivotal moment, however, had an immediate impact on the couple’s connection. “The dynamic definitely changed,” the newlywed recalls. “I could tell Danielle wasn’t as open; she had more of a wall up and the physical intimacy really slowed down after that.”
While Knapek acknowledges his relationship shortcomings, he explains that Degroot played a part as well. “Danielle was hard to read during the honeymoon,” he says. “Physical intimacy was growing but after our most physically intimate night, she told me she was starting to see things in me that made her think I might not be a good match for her. After hearing that, it was hard to tell if she was ready for sex or not.”
Being on-camera added pressure to an already tense situation, along with Degroot’s desire for a confident, manly mate. “I let the pressure of the cameras get to me,” Knapek admits. “I worried about how it would look on TV if Danielle and I got in a fight. Sometimes I would let things go that were bothering me or tiptoe around them. I think that’s why Danielle got the vibe that I wasn’t very assertive.”
Thankfully the pair had plenty of support from loved ones. “Our families were awesome during the whole process,” Knapek shares. “My favorite piece of advice was from Danielle’s dad. He said, ‘At the end of the day, always be each other’s best friend.’”
In a previous interview with The Knot, Degroot emphasized that she and her husband value commitment. And according to Knapek, their dedication never wavered. “It was one of our strengths after an argument,” he says. “We always woke up the next day knowing that we both cared about each other and we would go right back to working on our marriage.”
Despite the many highs and lows, Knapek is thankful he was matched with Degroot. “I really do believe the experts did a good job,” he notes. “We have a ton of common interests, we have very similar goals in life, our ideas of a family are the same, and we both have the same goofy sense of humor. I will say this for sure–Danielle is the funniest girl I have ever met!”
The newlywed is quick to admit that the entire process has been difficult. “Marriage with a person you know is already tough, so it’s even harder when it’s with a stranger,” he muses. “Add in a camera crew, a new place to live, and a completely different lifestyle and things can get pretty stressful at times.”
Above all else, Knapek is focusing on the positive aspects of the experiment. “Stress makes you grow and become a better person and a better spouse,” he concludes to The Knot. “If I had a time machine and was able to go back to when I decided to be on Married at First Sight, I most definitely would do it all over again!”