Married at First Sight season 4 participant Derek Schwartz‘s marriage to Heather Seidel has been in limbo from the start. The newlyweds had multiple disagreements on their honeymoon in Puerto Rico, and despite attempts to make amends, they returned to Miami barely speaking.
Schwartz – a 35-year old account executive – was stunned to learn his wife was considering ending their marriage just days after the wedding. Ahead of the highly-anticipated September 13 episode, in which Seidel makes her choice, Schwartz is opening up about his Married at First Sight experience exclusively with The Knot in a two-part interview.
During an emergency meeting with Married at First Sight expert, Pastor Calvin Roberson, after the couple returned from their honeymoon, Seidel – a 32-year old flight attendant – stated that she needed time to make her decision. While spending time apart, Schwartz was shocked and confused.
“I spent so much time thinking about what happened and how we could have went from getting married to waiting to hear about a divorce [within] a week,” he recalls.
Married at First Sight participants typically wait until the six-week experiment is over to decide the fate of their marriages, so it’s understandable when Schwartz shares that he was “emotionally drained” leading up to his early decision day with Seidel.
“From one of the happiest days of my life to sitting in limbo wondering about my future all in the blink of an eye… It was hard to believe,” Schwartz tells The Knot. “I definitely felt like I was being judged wrongly at that point. To me, it seemed as if Heather decided to shut down and stopped trying to learn about me as soon as the honeymoon began. When I walked in for the decision, I was stressed out and frustrated but also relieved to know I would be finally getting an answer.”
Schwartz acknowledges that Roberson – who he calls “Pastor Cal” – has been doing all he can to help the couple, but he wonders if his wife has been receptive to the expert’s advice.
Regardless of the choice Seidel makes, Schwartz tells The Knot that he’s grown as a person. “Leading up to our decision, I learned more about marriage than what I had learned in the previous 35 years,” he admits. “Each conversation with the experts taught me something new. My thoughts and feelings on marriage have changed and all for the better despite our difficulties early on. I never thought marriage was going to be easy, but now I see why people are willing to work so hard for it.”
To viewers, the Married at First Sight experiment may appear to be isolating for the participants. However, Schwartz not only had the experts to lean on; he relied on his loved ones.
“While Heather was contemplating her decision, I had to confide in friends and family,” he shares with The Knot. “My Mom and my cousin, as well as my friend Danny, were all so supportive of me. I would call them and just vent. Being able to talk to them helped me through a tough time. If it wasn’t for them, I am not sure how I would have been able to deal with all of the emotions.”
As Married at First Sight viewers anxiously await Seidel’s decision. Schwartz makes it clear that he wants marriage – and nothing less – with his match. “If Heather wanted a divorce, a friendship would be the last thing on my mind,” he concludes. “With that said, I try to never hold a grudge and always forgive, so maybe one day. If she wanted to be my friend, choosing a divorce would not be the best way to go about it.”
Stay tuned for part two of Schwartz’s exclusive interview with The Knot following the Tuesday, September 13, episode of Married at First Sight, airing at 8 p.m. ET on FYI.