Jillian Denning
Updated May 01, 2015 @ 1:41 pm

It started innocuously, with a Tweet from a friend of a friend. “Married at First Sight is my new favorite show,” she said. People chimed in across the Twitterverse. “I love that show!” “So fascinating!” “I actually think it’s the perfect representation of marriage!”

It was a slow night and a new episode was coming up. “Why not?” I thought, and turned on the television. That was a Tuesday. By the following Tuesday I had watched every episode the series had ever produced and was eagerly awaiting new material.

I had also watched the spin-off show, Married at First Sight: The First Year. I had found and followed each participant on Instagram. I had spread the good word to as many people as I could.

When people ask what it is about the show that has turned me into a believer—this girl who spends her only weekend off watching episode after episode and trying to push it on to unsuspecting acquaintances—I usually say a few things.

I start with an impassioned speech on arranged marriages and the idea of love we have in this mad, mad world. I go on to explain the popularity of the show, the qualifications of the experts who match the participants, the life questions it provokes. Then I settle into a nice long conversation about Jamie and Doug. It always comes back to Jamie and Doug.

The premise of Married at First Sight, which airs Tuesday nights, is that two complete strangers, matched by a team of professionals—including a sociologist, sexologist, psychologist, and spiritual adviser—meet each other for the first time at the altar. They then spend six weeks getting to know each other. At the end of this period—“the experiment”—they decide if they want to stay married or get a divorce.

In season one, two out of three couples decided to stay married. Jamie and Doug were one of them.

Jamie is a labor and delivery nurse and a former Bachelor contestant. Doug is a commercial sales rep and family man. He’s also someone Jamie likely wouldn’t have dated on her own. When Jamie took a look at Doug waiting for her at the end of the aisle, she freaked out. Her wedding day was spent in deep, real tears.

“I’m just not attracted to him,” she bemoaned. “I’ve made a huge mistake!” Poor Doug watched on, patient and kind. Doug is always patient and kind.

Through the course of the season we watched Jamie realize she liked Doug. We watched her realize that maybe he had all the things she was looking for in a partner, things that you can’t tell right away from looking at someone. She realized Doug was good with her and that she needed someone like that because maybe, just maybe, she had been unrealistic with her expectations. Maybe, just maybe she had been expecting the wrong things, actually. Basically we watched Jamie fall in love. Doug, too.

A year later and the two of them are still married, celebrating their first anniversary. It’s a sweet story, helped along by the fact that Jamie had a troubled childhood and Doug provides her with the stable, loving family she’s always wanted. I follow the two on social media and smile every time I see them.

They are goofy. They are real. They found love in a hopeless place, to quote Rihanna.

The experts on the show talk about how people often choose the wrong things in their partners. I can attest to that. Let’s talk about my early 20s, shall we? Or perhaps we don’t need to. We just need to know I chose the wrong things in my partners. I know I’m not alone here.

We often have expectations of what our partner will look like or be like, and it takes us time to realize that, wow, a lot of that stuff doesn’t matter really at all. What matters is how your partner treats you, how much you laugh together, what type of person you are around them. It’s about the life you build together. That’s what matters.

I suppose that’s why I watch Married at First Sight, when it comes down to it. I watch it because I believe in love, even on reality shows. I watch it because I believe in second and third and fourth impressions. I watch it because, ultimately, I believe in Jamie and Doug.

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