Shawniece, a 29-year-old entrepreneur and cosmetologist, exchanged vows with Jephte Pierre, a 26-year-old second grade teacher, immediately after meeting each other for the first time.
Since the show's January 2 premiere, fans have watched Shawniece and Jephte make huge strides in their relationship, as they started off with Jephte sleeping in a separate room than his wife. Jephte, however, opened up to his wife slowly over time and the couple eventually consummated their marriage. Shawniece went from the unhappiest wife on the show to seemingly the happiest spouse of all.
After honeymooning, moving in together and attempting to overcome the obstacles of every day life, the three couples will have to decide whether they want to stay married or get a divorce at the end of this extreme experiment.
During an exclusive interview via email, Shawniece talked to Reality TV World about appearing on Married at First Sight. Below is what she had to say.
Reality TV World: Why did you initially decide to take such a risk by appearing on Married at First Sight? Was dating in the real world, away from cameras, in the Boston area that much of a struggle?
Shawniece Jackson: I decided to get Married At First Sight, because I wanted to share my life with someone. As far as my husband being a stranger, it wasn't a major concern when you have three professional experts filtering out the non sense.
Dating was hard for me because I exhausted all of my options in the dating world. I'm old fashion so social media and dating apps were not an option.
Reality TV World:Married at First Sight unfortunately has a low success rate of couples who decide to stay married long-term. Was that a concern of yours? Did the outcome of previous seasons affect the faith or trust you had in the experts to match you with the right person?
Shawniece Jackson: I am a child of God and I walk by faith. As much as the experts put in the work, I still went into this blindfolded with God on my side. There are plenty of things in humans that can't be accounted for by any experts.
So, it was never a concern of mine that I would be divorced because of the past seasons. It just takes the right selfless devoted person with a open mind, the right soul and a warm heart.
Reality TV World: What were your fears when marrying a stranger, other than the obvious prospect of getting divorced? Were you worried Jephte might be going on the show for attention or fame?
Shawniece Jackson: My biggest fear in the marriage is that my husband wouldn't like me. Of course I would hope he would apply for all the right reasons, but that never crossed my mind.
I just wanted him to love me unconditionally and in my husband's defense, love is in the eye of the beholder. So, it's like, "What if he doesn't like me?" I would be devastated.
Reality TV World: What mistakes do you think unsuccessful Married at First Sight couples made on the show, and what did the happy couples -- such as Jamie Otis and Doug Hehner from Season 1, or Ashley Petta and Anthony D'Amico from Season 5 -- do differently? How did those circumstances affect your approach to this process?
Shawniece Jackson: I went into this wanting to be myself and do what works best for our marriage. Every marriage has its own unique potion that they had to mix together until it works. I could look at a lot of marriages, but I truly wanted to create our own method.
Reality TV World: How important was physical appearance to you on the show, honestly? Did you believe instant chemistry or physical attraction was necessary for a marriage to work, or did you feel you could definitely grow to view someone as attractive overtime?
Shawniece Jackson: I believe in both! There has to be something to keep you going and over time, it grows more and more for your significant other.
Reality TV World: We've seen glimpses of your family here or there. But did anyone in your family or circle of friends have an especially strong response to you getting married at first sight, whether positive or negative?
Shawniece Jackson: I come from a super huge support system. I have my family and friends that supports what I do even if that's getting married to a stranger. They may not have understood or had their concerns but for the most part they supported me.
Reality TV World: How would you respond to critics who might say Married at First Sight participants do not value marriage?
Shawniece Jackson:MAFS is untraditional but it still carries and holds traditional values. If you can say you take MAFS less serious but you use untraditional ways of dating like apps and social media, that's not fair.
People have stuck with old-fashion dating rituals or have been arranged to be married for years, but the direction the world is going, you have to find something that works for you.
Reality TV World: What was the hardest part of this process for you?
Shawniece Jackson: Going into the marriage I was afraid of the arguments and where they would go, being that we don't know each other. It could make or break you, when fighting in a new relationship.
Reality TV World: Could you elaborate on what exactly you asked the experts for in a partner? What qualities and characteristics would your dream spouse have?
Shawniece Jackson: I asked for a black man! I wanted someone who was family oriented with a nice smile and a hard worker.
Reality TV World: You have nine siblings. Is a big family something you want for yourself with Jephte? Did your desire for children play a role in you initially deciding to get married to a stranger?
Shawniece Jackson: Having a big family is one thing, but to raise a big family is not exactly what I want. I just want two or three at the most (so I say now!) but I'm not in any rush. I want to take the time to get to know my husband and enjoy life as a married couple.