Married at First Sight‘s Derek Schwartz was optimistic about his marriage to Heather Seidel, but it came to an end before it even had a chance to thrive.
On the latest episode of FYI’s popular social experiment — which aired Tuesday, September 13 — Seidel chose to end the couple’s union. Now, Schwartz shares his thoughts and feelings about her decision in the second half of a two-part exclusive interview with The Knot.
Decision day for Schwartz and his match came a few weeks early. After their honeymoon fiasco, the newlyweds met with Pastor Calvin Roberson, who encouraged them to work on their marriage. Seidel, however, wasn’t receptive to the idea, and announced that she could no longer be married to Schwartz.
Her husband, however, wasn’t completely caught off-guard. “I can’t say I was surprised,” the 35-year-old account executive admits to The Knot. “As much as I wanted to believe she’d give it another chance, there were too many signs pointing to divorce. Despite the fact that I felt it coming, her decision still hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t help but feel like, ‘You do not even know me at all. How can you do this?'”
Looking back on that fateful day, Schwartz wouldn’t change a thing from his end. “I don’t think that there is anything I could have said that day that would have made any difference,” he tells us. “None of what I said before that day did, and I tried talking to her on several occasions both on and off camera.”
Schwartz has not heard from his wife since she decided to call things off. He sent her a friend request on Facebook and private messaged her on Twitter, but he claims she hasn’t responded.
On the latest Married at First Sight episode, Seidel told viewers that she knew her husband wasn’t “the one.” The situation was frustrating for Schwartz, who didn’t believe his wife took the time to get to know him. “This was not about love at first sight… It was about marriage,” he explains. “She never even got to know me, and I do not think anyone is ‘the one’ automatically without work.”
After their decision day, Schwartz and Seidel both admitted separately that they were embarrassed about the outcome. (The two are the quickest couple to split on the series.) “I was extremely embarrassed after Heather’s decision, because I had just spent so much time and energy convincing myself and those around me that this was going to work,” Schwartz says. “Even if it didn’t work, who could have imagined in their wildest dreams that the failure would have been this extreme? The thing is, I knew going into this that neither one of us were perfect. I knew there would be bumps in the road. I was just hoping we would learn how to get over them together.”
Schwartz tells The Knot that he’s no longer embarrassed about his marriage ending, because he was willing to stick it out. She wasn’t. “Walking away early was not my choice,” he reminds us. “In hindsight, I am proud of the decisions I made, but when I think about the fact that we had the shortest relationship in the history of Married at First Sight, it definitely isn’t my proudest moment.”
Seeing his marriage unfold on television has altered Schwartz’s perspective. “Dr. Pepper told me that watching the episodes was going to be an eye-opening experience, and she was so right!” he acknowledges. “Watching the show has shed so much light onto what was happening early on in our marriage and what caused it to end so shortly. Hearing Heather’s thoughts and seeing her facial expressions showed me things I had no idea of at the time.”
Watching the episodes now, Schwartz realizes the newlyweds were not on the same page early on. “I sat in disbelief — time and time again remembering how the moment felt to me when I was living it,” he claims. “And how it felt watching it back and how different they were.”
After splitting from Seidel, Schwartz thought he was destined to be an eternal bachelor. Thankfully, his perspective has changed.
“I don’t think that I’m supposed to be alone anymore,” he openly shares with us. “If I felt like that, it was because of everything I went through at that time. My confidence was down, my ego was bruised, and I could not help but feel helpless, because I tried so hard. I gave it my all, and still ended up with a failed marriage. The more you put into something, the more it hurts to see it go. I will not deny that I put my whole heart into this, and what happened has affected me deeply.”
He now believes in finding lasting love more than ever. “Since the show has started airing, the love I have been receiving has been overwhelming. I am happy and looking forward to finding someone to be happy with together,” he tells The Knot. “I do not regret doing this in any way. I am so grateful that I had this opportunity. I have learned so much about myself and I continue to learn each week.”
Now that he’s been through the Married at First Sight process, Schwartz shares that dating in the future will be a different experience. “We all want someone to love and to have that someone who loves us back. I am more excited about dating now, because I feel like I know who I am and what I want now more than ever,” he says. “I also feel like I am more equipped to be a part of a healthy relationship now more than ever based on everything I have been learning about myself throughout this entire process and everything I have learned about relationships in general, whether that was from the experts or the married people in my life who gave me advice and words of wisdom leading up to the marriage and [up] until the decision.”
“Although it can be tough to relive some moments, the benefit of seeing yourself and how you handle situations far outweighs anything else,” Schwartz acknowledges. “What a great opportunity to look at ourselves and make some serious evaluations.”
From the start of season 4, Schwartz has been a Married at First Sight favorite – receiving support from loyal fans, for which he’s eternally grateful. “I went into this not knowing what to expect and tried to be the best person I could be,” he explains. “I put complete faith in the experts and in the process and tried to honor my commitment, even when things were getting difficult between me and Heather. I did not take this opportunity lightly and hope everyone knows how much it meant to me.”
And would the handsome Miami resident consider repeating the Married at First Sight experiment? “I would love the opportunity,” Schwartz concludes to The Knot. “I still believe in the experts, and I still believe that my match is out there. I am willing to do whatever it takes to build a lifelong relationship with someone, and I am looking forward to trying my hand at love again.”
Married at First Sight airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on FYI.