If you’ve been keeping up with Married at First Sight, then you’ve probably been just as stressed as I have about the state of Shawniece and Jephte’s relationship. We’re already six episodes in (and about 18 days after the couple said “I do”) and they don’t seem to be getting much closer. As affectionate as Shawniece seems to be, Jephte is the polar opposite. He continuously calls her a “stranger,” shuts down easily, is funny about engaging in anything that he feels will make her too touchy-feely, and opts to sleep on the floor because he’s just not that into the idea of lying in the same bad with her. It’s actually getting painful to watch.
“Girl, you know what it is? Jephte isn’t sexually attracted to Shawniece,” I said to my best friend over the weekend. “I think if a man is sexually attracted to someone, he’s not going to pass up the opportunity be in the same bed and to go at the pace that they want. I think he had an idea of what he thought she was going to look like and she didn’t end up fitting that so he’s been trying to keep her at an arm’s length.”
I was pretty sold on my own theory about the reason Jephte had been so cold to Shawniece since the wedding day. But then my friend said something that had me in my feelings, child.
“Shawniece got comfortable way too fast,” she said.
“What?! What do you mean?” I said in response.
“On the wedding night she took that makeup off, washed her hair, put on her glasses and we haven’t seen her look anything like that day since.”
I told my friend how that’s not fair because Shawniece is a good-looking girl. Not to mention that it’s pretty much sexist the ways in which women are expected to be CoverGirl models while men can look like who shot john? morning, noon and night. She responded by telling me she agreed, but that in their case, being that they have no emotional connection, it’s important.
“When you’re first getting to know someone and you’re going on dates, you try to look your best right?” she asked. “I think Shawniece got too comfortable with the title of ‘wife’ that she thought she could just expect him to be into her immediately based on the fact that he should because he’s her husband. I’m just saying, all the other girls on the show stay in some lashes and a little makeup…”
The more I thought about my friend’s theory, I couldn’t blow it off completely. She had a point.
When it comes to playing this dating game, we don’t go out with people we’re getting to know dressed any type of way. We don’t pull out the sweatpants and bonnet the very first time they come by to spend the night. Hell, my parents have been married more than 30 years and they won’t even have talks about passing gas. A few episodes in, Jephte said Shawniece was already peeing with the door open.
On paper, Jephte should easily grow to love his wife for who she is. But this isn’t the ordinary scenario. They didn’t meet on their own. They didn’t fall in love and decide to marry after a few years of dating. They haven’t been through so many things with one another that the physical doesn’t matter and holey underwear and morning breath are A-ok. These are two people who met and married on the very same day, so the effort has to be greater than most. And it must be greater than just saying “I’m your wife, I’m not your friend” and believing someone is going to be enamored with you immediately. Sometimes effort is more than doing a few exercises together before you go to bed and opening up. Effort can also be in making sure you look your best for your partner, not all the time, but at least sometimes, and maintaining some mystery. That doesn’t mean you need to walk around in a negligee and be afraid to have a bowel movement all of the time, but c’mon. The wedding day (and confessionals recounting different scenes) shouldn’t be the sole time a person sees their partner gussied up. And that goes for men as well.
But truth be told, Jephte has his own effort to put in. A big one. He liked the idea of marriage, but not what it truly entails. He needs to want to get past whatever wall he has in place to learn something about her. He has to find out how to communicate with her without staring off all dead-eyed or getting exasperated by her emotions within seconds. And he may not need to open up as much as he just needs to be open to do the work. Until both parties are ready to speak openly, work together to make this marriage into something and put in their own aforementioned efforts, all of the Maybelline, form-fitting attire and fun hairstyles truly won’t make much of a difference.