Married at First Sight relationship expert Rachel DeAlto says her approach to working with the season 5 participants is both professional and personal. “I’ve worked with singles and couples professionally, but I’ve also been through all the stages of being single, married, divorced, and finding love again,” DeAlto tells The Knot in a new interview. “It’s quite the rainbow of experience that allows me to be compassionate with our participants at any stage.”
The expert is quick to admit that she’s deeply invested in the participants. “I truly do care about the couples, and especially about each individual’s growth and happiness,” she says. “I think the only difficulty I’ve encountered is caring too much.”
For example in the current season: DeAlto has been pleasantly surprised by Nate Duhon and Sheila Downs. “They’ve had some ups and downs but their strength is so palpable,” she says. “I love that they are not afraid of going deep, having tough conversations, and growing. It warms my heart.”
Duhon and Downs had chemistry from the get-go, which DeAlto acknowledges as one of the essential components of a successful relationship. “[Chemistry] can be very inspiring when working to overcome challenges,” she says. “The key is not to default to relying on your physical compatibility because sadly, in many relationships, that passion can fade a bit. Enjoy it, embrace it, and build from it.”
The expert explains that fear played a part in the fizzling that same essential relationship component in the case of Cody Knapek and Danielle Degroot. “This is a scary process and it can be hard to be vulnerable,” she observes. “I think there were times on the honeymoon where they both got stuck in their heads instead of leading with their hearts. Communication of those fears is essential… We all have them! Simply letting your partner know, ‘Hey, I like you, and I have these hopes for us and it scares me,’ can open up some great conversation.”
Each MAFS season is unique, DeAlto explains, and much of it is due to constant changes between cities and participants. However, DeAlto and her colleagues, Dr. Pepper Schwartz and Pastor Calvin Roberson, are equally intent on continuously tweaking the process. “I also believe that as the show grows in popularity, more people see that the process is heartfelt and truly intending on finding lifelong marriages, which leads to great candidates signing up,” she says.
While many of the couples from previous seasons have gone their separate ways, DeAlto remains optimistic. “The breakups are so painful, because we obviously saw amazing potential with [those couples],” she says. “[However], I do believe that we succeeded in growing love. There was—and is—truly love there, which retains my faith in the process.”
The experts themselves are constantly learning in the process. “I think the best thing we can do is to continue to support the couples in every way we can, especially when the cameras stop rolling,” she concludes.
Check out her five essential tips for couples below.
Rachel DeAlto’s Tips for Engaged and Newlywed Couples
1. Talk It Out
Even if you have to take a break, come back to the table. Whether they are big or small challenges, communicate through them without defensiveness and with love and understanding. Focus on your feelings, not the argument, and lead with your heart.
2. Prioritize Your Problems
Focus on the issues that truly reach your core, not the little things. Let the way he rolls the toothpaste go. The saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” may be overused, but it is key.
3. Conduct State of the Unions:
Set a date a couple of times a year to take a staycation and make sure you are both on the same page with your long term goals. Keep your ships sailing in the same direction and allow a space where both can express any concerns without judgment.
4. Never Stop Dating
Complacency is the killer of love. Tony Robbins has a great quote—”Do what you did in the beginning of a relationship and there won’t be an end.” Put the effort in. Never stop wooing one another.
5. Love Hard
Don’t hold back your love. Release your fears, and if you can’t, express them. Radical vulnerability builds a foundation that can’t be broken.
Married at First Sight airs on Lifetime on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.