If we know one thing about Married at First Sight‘s Sam Role, it’s that she has people talking. The 30-year-old bank manager was matched with 31-year-old compliance specialist Neil Bowlus for the “extreme social experiment.” The pair have had a turbulent introduction to married life, and viewers aren’t convinced the six-week Married at First Sight process will prove long enough for them to see eye to eye.
Now, in an exclusive interview with The Knot, Role is speaking openly about her relationship with Bowlus, viewers’ perception of her, and how she really felt about living with her husband.
“I definitely found Neil more attractive as I got to know him,” Role says of not being initially attracted to her match. “It took a little while to be able to get Neil to open up, but when he did, his personality drew me in and he became a very handsome man in my eyes and in my heart.”
“For me, attraction grows over time,” she explains. “I have had some of my best relationships with men who I wasn’t initially attracted to, but when I got to know them, they became irresistible, just like Neil. Looks fade over time. It’s personality that keeps a relationship going strong.”
On the latest Married at First Sight episode, which aired January 20, Role and Bowlus decide to move out of their home and into Role’s apartment. “Unfortunately, Neil and I moved out because of our commutes as well as not really feeling comfortable in the house,” the new bride tells The Knot. “I didn’t want to move back to my place, but because Neil’s home doesn’t allow pets, his home wasn’t an option.”
“Looking back now,” she goes on, “I wish we moved to Neil’s, because I could’ve just asked my roommate to take care of the pets, and also because it would’ve been better for us as a couple. Although it was his place, there wouldn’t have been another person living there with us. That’s one thing I wish I could change. Looking back, I feel my decision was selfish.”
But Role wasn’t only thinking of herself before making the big move. “There is a lot of guilt when Neil moved into my place,” she shares. “My place is tiny and I had a roommate. That’s not fair to Neil or our marriage.”
“I was presented with two selfish options,” Role continues. “Neil moves into my tiny place which wasn’t fair to him or the marriage, or Neil goes and looks for a place for us to move [into], which again isn’t fair to Neil. I didn’t like either option. I didn’t want to keep making this about me when it should be about us. With the time constraints we had to make a snap decision, one that I now regret. I don’t know why I never asked my roommate to watch my pets for me while I just moved into his place.”
Not long after moving into Role’s apartment, Bowlus realized the arrangement was not going to work. Tensions were running high, and the couple got into an argument. “The sarcastic comment that Neil gave me wasn’t in reference to moving in,” Role explains. “I don’t think that Neil needs to work on his sarcasm though. I love his sarcasm. It just wasn’t the right time. I was already frustrated and when he made his sarcastic remark, it just caused me to get even more upset. I know he felt it was a joke, but in that moment I didn’t see it that way. I’m human.”
It seems the argument viewers saw on television may have been misconstrued. “I can’t sit here and say I’m portrayed in a poor way. What you see is what I said, sadly,” Role admits. “Although, there is one time where things were misrepresented. Only ONCE! And that was the last ‘fight’ on Tuesday’s episode. Neil asked me a question and his tone sounded inorganic and sarcastic.”
“I responded by saying that the way he sounded when he asked the question sounded fake, and I knew he would have to repeat the question,” she continues. “It looks as if I said that I called HIM fake. That ‘fight’ has brought me so much negativity and I refuse to own that ‘fight,’ because it wasn’t what actually went down.”
“I will always be accountable for what I did and said, but that’s one that really hurt my heart. Everything else is an accurate representation of me,” she shares.
We asked Role if she was relieved when the newlyweds decided to live apart until they found a new place together. “I wouldn’t say I felt relieved when we decided to live separately,” she acknowledges. “I was sad because I knew that the more we didn’t stay under the same roof, the more the accelerated process was being tampered with. I’m glad it was only a couple days that we were apart. If it were any longer, it could’ve caused even more damage to the marriage.”
On the January 20 episode, Dr. Joseph, the Married at First Sight psychologist, made an observation that stress may be playing a part in Role’s perception of her husband. “There are scenes where I look disinterested or like I’m upset,” she explains, “but in reality, I was going off of lack of sleep and frustration—working an 8 hour day and filming till 1 a.m.”
“A great example of this is when we are in my home and Neil says we need to look for another place,” she goes on. “I put my head down and say, ‘Okay, let’s do it then.’ I wasn’t mad; I was tired and stressed out. This is real life.”
But Married at First Sight viewers will be happy to know the couple has enjoyed some happy times while off-camera. “Neil and I talked every day at lunch while at work [during the process],” Role tells us. “We would talk for 30-45 minutes and laugh. We would also text each other throughout the day. I kind of wish those conversations were shown, because we do have good times that the public doesn’t see.”
Role isn’t oblivious to how she comes across on the show. “As far as how I come across to Neil,” she tells The Knot, “I have no excuse. It was bad taste. Even if I was exhausted and sleep deprived, he didn’t deserve that. He was also stressed, exhausted, and sleep deprived. I just can’t hold my head up and say that my exhaustion and stress warranted the horrible treatment I projected onto this man.”
The newlywed admitted that she “couldn’t click with Neil” on the latest Married at First Sight episode. “Neil and I weren’t clicking because of the lack of communication,” Role explains to The Knot. “We learned that we communicate very differently. I was trying to get him to let down his walls, but with my nasty behavior I could see, now, why he wouldn’t. That’s what I meant by not being able to click.”
We asked Role if she believes the turbulence she and Bowlus had was part of the ups and downs of marriage. “I believe every marriage has its ups and downs. It’s marriage,” she admits. “It’s two people who are different. They have two different perspectives. In traditional marriages, it takes years to get to know your partner! I don’t know anyone who is married that hasn’t had hiccups along the way, especially when you don’t know each other prior to tying the knot.”
“I wouldn’t want that much turbulence in my ideal marriage,” she shares. “I also wouldn’t ever want to be as nasty and cold in my ideal marriage as I was with Neil. I’m not saying things should be perfect, but I’d be able to communicate better and deliver my feelings and concerns in a manner in which isn’t rude and hurtful.”
For anyone interested in embarking on the Married at First Sight journey, Role advised it’s important to be yourself. “Be who you are at all times. Never fake it! Be prepared to hear some things that you will not like to hear about yourself and take them to heart, but also be prepared to hear some amazing things about yourself and how you manage your relationships,” Role explains of the four experts, which she calls “amazing.” “You have to be willing to be vulnerable in every moment of every day throughout this experience. Both of you will make mistakes and that’s ok, but be accountable for them! No relationship is one sided. You will both be wrong at times, but what matters is what you do to correct the mistakes so that neither of you make them again!”
“I do have a word of caution in reference to social media,” she adds about viewers. “Ignore the hate. No one has the right to judge you for what you’ve gone through.”
What’s the best case scenario if Role and Bowlus stay together or go their separate ways? “Our best case scenario, in either case, is that we are happy together,” Role shares. “We enjoy each other’s company, we are laughing together, we are a unit, and we are proud to have married and been matched with each other!”
Tune into Married at First Sight, airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on FYI.