Derek Schwartz knew there would be rough moments in marriage, but he didn’t expect to struggle so soon. The season 4 participant of Married at First Sight opens up to The Knot in an exclusive new interview about his wife, Heather Seidel, and grappling with conflict during the honeymoon.
No subject is off-limits for Schwartz, who opens up about everything– including smoking. On the FYI show’s season 4 premiere, Schwartz – a 35-year old account executive from Miami – admitted that he wanted his entire marriage to “be like the honeymoon phase.”
He tells The Knot that the “tough times and rocky moments” were anticipated, but he “never wanted that sense of excitement, adventure and learning about each other to end” in his marriage.
“In my eyes, an ideal marriage is one where both people have the same goals and desires and are willing to work together to achieve them,” Schwartz tells The Knot. “In an ideal marriage, there wouldn’t be major communication issues.”
At this point in their marriage, Schwartz and Seidel are facing some serious communication issues. “I think that a great deal of problems in relationships come from misunderstandings, big and small,” the newlywed tells The Knot. “If a couple were to be able to avoid that by having the ability to communicate in a fair and positive way, I think they would be on the path to success.”
Schwartz met Seidel – a 32-year old flight attendant – on their wedding day, and they hit if off at the beginning, but something shifted during their honeymoon in Puerto Rico. Seidel visibly got annoyed when her husband shared that he likes to gamble and smoke occasionally.
Schwartz wasn’t oblivious to his wife’s attitude shift. “I noticed during the honeymoon that Heather was being very contrary with me,” the newlywed acknowledges. “It seemed like no matter what I would say, she would quickly interject, letting me know her stance was totally different or even the complete opposite. For example, I pointed out the resort’s lovely pool (for the sake of small talk with a stranger), and she let me know she prefers the ocean. I love the ocean, too! I was just making an observation.”
Then, there was the issue of Derek smoking. “Heather being ‘turned off’ by my smoking came out of nowhere for me,” he tells us. “Because I asked her about it in our honeymoon suite the night we were married. She told me that she doesn’t do it, but that she did not mind if I did.”
Schwartz didn’t give his bad habit another thought until he sensed tension from his wife on the beach during their honeymoon. Seidel’s admission to having an issue with her husband’s smoking confused him. “I felt like, ‘Hey if this is bothering you, why not take a moment to talk with me about it?'” he explains. “As soon as we had the discussion, despite the way it happened, I stopped smoking for the rest of our honeymoon to show Heather how committed I was and how important our marriage is. I never even gave it a second thought.”
We were curious as to how Schwartz felt when he learned of his wife’s profession. “When I first heard my wife is a flight attendant, my heart dropped a bit,” he tells us. “I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions, because I knew so little about the job and its requirements at the time, so I just tried to be optimistic and look for the positive aspects of it. I learned very quickly that Heather loves her job very much.”
They may have had issues early on, but the new groom is making it perfectly clear that he’s focusing on the bright side of the Married at First Sight experiment. He tells us his favorite part of the honeymoon was being able to “just let loose and joke” with his wife. “It felt so natural and comfortable when we both laughed and smiled and just enjoyed the moment without having our guards up or looking for flaws,” he recalls.
“At this point of the honeymoon, there [have] been several signs pointing to us being a terrific match… We both travel with oatmeal apparently,” he says with a laugh. “But we are still in the process of working on discovering those things. I have complete faith in the experts and am committed to the process of learning why we were matched.”
Schwartz admits that it has been interesting watching his relationship with Seidel play out on television. “The most interesting thing I have noticed when watching is how disinterested Heather seems early on,” he tells The Knot. “In those early days, I kept reassuring myself that things were going well, but watching the episodes definitely gives me a different perspective.”
Despite the ups and downs, Schwartz still believes in the Married at First Sight experiment. “I would not change the process at all. I know it works, I have seen it work on more than one occasion. I believe that if we follow the steps and utilize the tools we have to make our marriage successful that it will work out in the end.”
Catch the next episode of Married at First Sight, airing Tuesday, August 23, at 8 p.m. ET on FYI.