An unprecedented five pairs of strangers were matched by returning Married at First Sight experts Pastor Calvin Roberson, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, and Dr. Viviana Coles to marry on Season 10 of the Lifetime reality series.
The Married at First Sight broadcast began on "Decision Day," and for some of the couples, it marked the first time they woke up alone in eight weeks. The night apart was a chance to give each spouse an opportunity to reflect on the last two months and determine if they'd like to stay married or get a divorce.
Jessica said Austin didn't feel like a stranger to her and she never imagined herself saying, "I love you," after only four or five weeks. However, Jessica was in love and she was happy.
But Austin refusing to say, "I love you," back made her wonder, although she knew Austin cared about her.
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Meanwhile, Austin woke up nervous and restless after he and Jessica had argued over his job and the amount of traveling he must do during their last night together before "Decision Day." Austin said he and Jessica had developed a great connection but he had a big decision to make and there was a lot of pressure on them both.
"The worst possible thing would be if I decide to stay married and he doesn't. That would be crushing, and it's weighing on me right now because I don't know how he's feeling," Jessica told the cameras.
"If Austin did decide to get a divorce, I don't really want to think about that."
Austin and Jessica opt to stay together
Austin and Jessica then met with the experts, and Jessica said she was "so grateful" for this whole process and having been matched with Austin. She felt they balanced each other really well, and Jessica added Austin was kind, caring, patient and calming.
Austin agreed their relationship had been fun and they became close almost immediately. He knew they were on the same page and wanted a similar future together.
Austin acknowledged he and Jessica butt heads sometimes and there had been ups and downs, but he noted that's normal for friends, family members and most relationships. Jessica said Austin tended to overthink things and shut down in conversation while she wanted to resolve things right away.
The couple's next challenge was Austin traveling for work and being gone for half of the next month.
Jessica was nervous how she'd react upon seeing Austin after a week or more apart. She said she wanted their connection to only get stronger and feared distance may affect their growth.
Viviana said although distance can breed insecurity, they could get through that by communicating well and being open about when affection is desired or needed.
Austin told the experts he had yet to profess love to Jessica because he wants it to be said in an organic moment.
"I want to make sure it's real. Maybe I am overthinking it a bit," Austin said, as he blushed. "It is a big word."
It then became time for the pair to make a decision on whether they'd like to stay together or get a divorce, and Jessica said she'd like to see how their relationship could work and have a future together.
And then Austin said, "Jess, it means the world to me, and I see you love me. I feel the commitment and I truly see you have my back, and it makes me know that I love you."
"I love you too," Jessica replied.
"Of course I want to stay married to you, because I love you," Austin noted, before the couple kissed.
Austin said it felt great to finally reveal his feelings, and Jessica seemed overjoyed. The experts cried with happiness and congratulated the pair on a successful marriage so far, and Pastor Cal told the cameras he saw a bright future for these two.
"I definitely found what I was looking for, and more. I truly do love her and I just can't wait to see what comes next. This is the beginning of the rest of our lives," Austin said in a confessional.
"With great risk comes great reward, and I'm excited we're going to do this together," Jessica added.
Taylor decides to divorce Brandon, Brandon acts like a diva again
Taylor was then shown saying she felt really nervous about "Decision Day." Throughout their ups and downs, Taylor said she still liked some things about Brandon, but he had struggled with the documentation part of the process and often took his frustrations out on Taylor.
Brandon stopped filming after the couples' retreat, so Taylor wasn't even sure whether Brandon was going to show up for the final meeting with Married at First Sight's experts.
Taylor first met with the experts alone and admitted she was feeling "overwhelmed" by everything that had transpired. Taylor said she went through a lot -- more than she could have imagined or anticipated.
Taylor said she and Brandon hung out off-camera "all the time" and she was anxious and on the verge of tears.
"Do you feel like he has prioritized production over his marriage?" Viviana asked Taylor.
"It definitely feels that way. There are so many things I feel I missed out on that were just so fun that we could've done together. His stubbornness just really gets in the way," Taylor shared.
"But if he doesn't show up, I'll be very disappointed. It would definitely tell me his decision, for sure."
Taylor was crying on the sofa alone and said she felt sad because she had really wanted her marriage to work. Taylor said the process had been tough but she didn't have any regrets.
Suddenly, Brandon showed up and Taylor flashed a smile on her face.
Brandon confirmed he had considered now showing up to "Decision Day" because he had told production on the couples' retreat he needed to return home to Washington, D.C. by noon on a certain day so he could have the time to go home, change and work a local festival.
However, Brandon claimed producers didn't cooperate and didn't get him home until 4PM.
"I wasn't allowed to leave," Brandon alleged. "I told production I would not be coming back until I got an apology for making me significantly late for work, and I got my apology. That's why I'm sitting here today."
Viviana said Brandon's smiling face came off as "smug," like he wasn't taking his marriage seriously.
Pastor Cal added, "I've been on [Married at First Sight] for seven [seasons]. Not once have we ever hindered anyone from showing up at their job."
Pepper agreed, and Pastor Cal didn't understand why or how there could be an exception in this case.
"Well, it happened. It actually happened twice. It also happened during mediation. I told you all I needed to be at work at a specific time, and we went over a full hour... and I was late for work as a result," Brandon said.
"So you said production held you up from going to work?" Pastor Cal asked.
"Yeah," Brandon replied.
"That's a lie," Pastor Cal noted.
"Twice," Brandon added.
"That's a lie," Pastor Cal said.
"Alright, well, I didn't make it to work on time," Brandon said.
Pepper asked Brandon if he felt production and the experts were trying to undermine him, before Pastor Cal wanted to know if Brandon felt they were "out to get" him.
Pepper could sense that energy, and Brandon avoided answering the question other than insisting, "You made me late for work, twice. That's what the issue is. It's why I left. I said, 'I'm not going to continue on this journey.'"
Viviana asked if Brandon's problem with production began and ended with him being late for work, and then Brandon stopped the conversation and said he needed to go to the bathroom.
Pastor Cal said he had to go to the bathroom too but wasn't shutting down production to do that. Pastor Cal asked Brandon if he could hold it, and Viviana pointed out, "We've been sitting here for hours to respect your time."
Brandon sarcastically told Pastor Cal that he appreciated what he had to say but was still going to go to the bathroom.
Viviana acknowledged Taylor was clearly trying with Brandon but didn't seem happy, and Taylor explained she and her husband were starting to feel comfortable with each other -- and she hoped that was the first step that would lead to good communication.
However, Taylor said she never really felt supported or protected. She never felt she could depend on Brandon, and she said she felt ignored a lot. Pastor Cal told Taylor not to feel bad for giving Brandon second chances because she was in a marriage, and then Brandon returned.
Brandon and Taylor then had to reveal their final decisions, and Viviana reminded Taylor she must make an informed decision based on what she wanted for her future.
"We've had some good times. I feel like you're on the brink of starting more communication, but um, with all the things that have transpired, it might not be the best for us to try to continue," Taylor announced. "With that being said, I would like to get a divorce."
"I'm over it," Brandon said, before jetting out of the room. "I'm over all of this."
Brandon told the cameras he never had this many problems in a relationship before.
"I've had good relationships and I've had bad relationships. I've been cheated on just like everyone else," Brandon said in a confessional.
"But this has just been a lot. I got into this to find my soul mate and I wanted to be happy... but this is over and done with. I am ready to move on with my life. I wish her nothing but the best, but love don't live here no more."
Pastor Cal asked Taylor never to doubt herself, and she was upset and "very disappointed" her marriage didn't work out. Taylor said she desired a connection and someone to travel with and have children with. She wanted a man, however, who could be there for her and have her back.
"I never stopped trying, even when it was difficult. But Brandon stopped trying a long time ago," Taylor noted.
Meka decides to divorce Michael
Meka and Michael's "Decision Day" was up next, and Michael had hope their relationship could get back into a better place because he considered divorce a "devastating" failure.
Meka felt pressure to make a good decision and was feeling extremely nervous. While her marriage didn't turn out as she had expected, she said she and Michael spent a few great days together with a lot of progress.
Meka said the biggest problem in her marriage was Michael's dishonesty, and she feared his pattern of telling lies might not ever change. All she wanted was the truth, but Michael told Meka that he was trying to be a better man.
Michael was wondering if he and Meka could overcome some of their setbacks and challenges, and he wasn't sure what Meka's final decision was going to be.
"If we get divorced, it's going to be the biggest failure I've ever had in my life," Meka told the cameras.
When Meka and Michael sat down with the experts, the couple said it felt good to see each other after one night apart. The experiment had been stressful for both spouses, and Meka pointed out there was a lot about Michael she still didn't know because there had been a lot of dishonesty.
Pastor Cal asked Michael if lying had become a habit for him, and Michael replied, "No... Has it been something I've done in the past to get where I needed to go or to secure this or to find myself in a position? Of course... It's just what it is."
"But honestly, when you are trying your damndest to get to where you need to go within the marriage and it's not working, you do probably rely on habits that are not the best. And I showed that," he added.
Pastor Cal wanted Michael to realize and acknowledge the weight and the gravity of his untruths in his marriage, and Michael said he understood that.
Michael said if he can't feel like he can trust a person, then it's very hard for him to be vulnerable and move forward. Michael explained his challenge was to let Meka in and feel comfortable enough to be his true self.
"[Me not feeling] comfortable contributed to me not being honest and not wanting to divulge information. I wanted to keep things to myself. It's hard to admit you have not done everything right and it's hard to admit you've made several mistakes," Michael told the experts.
But Michael said he never gave up and kept trying to fix things with Meka.
Meka shared how she felt more secure in her marriage a couple of days prior when she and Michael enjoyed a dinner date out, and Michael agreed with that.
Michael said his default in situations he felt uncomfortable in was to stretch the truth and rely on his individual habits that didn't work in a marriage.
Michael took accountability, saying, "I can sit here in front of you and say, 'Those are the mistakes I made. I went back to bad habits that were not going to work... for this marriage,' and I can admit that and say that 100 times. I understand that."
Pastor Cal appreciated Michael owning up to his faults in the marriage, and Meka flashed a smile on her face.
When Meka revealed her final decision, she said the past eight weeks had been "extremely challenging" and "really hard."
"But I think the past few days, I did see some of the progress I needed to see in order to consider still being in a marriage," Meka announced.
"This process has forced me every single day to look at every day like a new day and to be open. But I think for me overall, there has just been way too much deception. There's so many things I'm unsure about. I still don't feel like I know who my husband is."
Meka therefore came to the conclusion, "I still don't know who he is as a person. And honestly, I don't know how much of what he's told me is true and how much of it is not true. So for that reason, I do want a divorce."
Michael put a hand over his face and closed his eyes, and he looked extremely upset.
Michael was on the verge of tears and appeared shocked. He said he had been as open and honest as he could be going into this process and he thought they did well despite some setbacks along their journey.
"For me, I don't believe in divorce," Michael said. "I'm disappointed."
Viviana hoped the pair would eventually find peace with this decision and open up to someone else in the future. Viviana asked the former spouses to be vulnerable and use the skillset they had learned onMarried at First Sight in their next relationships.
Pastor Cal told Michael and Meka their value was not based on the success of this relationship.
Michael wished he had been open and honest with his wife earlier in the process to address their issues, but he didn't -- and so things played out the way they played out.
"I have to live with the consequences of that," Michael told the cameras.
Meka believed she got matched with who Michael said he was.
"I don't think who Michael said he was and who he actually is are the same person. Michael lied to me on the wedding night, and he's been lying to me ever since," Meka said. "But I don't regret getting married at first sight because I've grown... I'm coming out a much stronger person and a better person."
Katie and Michael decide to stay together
It then became time for Derek and Katie's "Decision Day." Derek said he was feeling good but also pretty nervous because Katie had moments when she thought their relationship was going to work out and other moments when she didn't.
Katie said she wanted to get this day "over with" because there had been a lot of build-up.
Katie liked many things about Derek, but she also noted he had a lot of qualities she wasn't crazy about. Derek also thought they'd be in a better position going into "Decision Day."
"Honestly, I was hoping that I would be able to make a much more confident decision. Because I'm not really sure in my decision right now," Derek said in a confessional.
"I don't want to be another statistic. I don't want to be just another marriage that ends up in divorce and you have to keep trying until the third time. I don't want that."
Katie said she wanted to feel emotionally and physically connected to her husband, and so she wasn't sure whether the decision she was about to make was the right one.
Katie and Derek hugged upon seeing each other on "Decision Day," and Katie admitted she was feeling "pretty torn." On one hand, she felt good about the friendship she had developed with Derek, but on the other hand, she said, "My heart is just not in it the way I would like it to be."
Katie admitted she felt a bit disappointed, but Derek said he never wanted to get a divorce.
Derek said he sometimes struggled to find the effort to put into his marriage but he loved how he and Katie could make fun out of nothing and enjoy simple things together. Derek also liked how Katie spoke her mind, and he said they were compatible -- at times.
Katie acknowledged Derek had been a good partner and great guy throughout the whole experience, especially when it came to his communication and commitment.
Katie felt Derek had her back and that she could always count on him, so she saw a lot of potential. However, she said their emotional connection was still missing for her because she just felt like they were friends.
"There's not that desire to stay up and spend more time with each other or come home early... That is something I've had in other relationships," Katie shared.
Derek said it didn't feel good to hear that, but Viviana pointed out it can be hard to grow passion and intimacy on Married at First Sight since there's so much pressure and a lot of eyes on them. Viviana thought passion could definitely grow out of the friendship they had established.
Pastor Cal added they had a lot of time to grow, experience, and thrive in their natural environment.
Derek then looked at Katie and said he had grown to love many things about their marriage, despite some challenges.
"Sometimes I feel like there's this imaginary wall between us and we're just on different sides of the spectrum. And I do feel like our marriage is built off arguments right now. I feel it's held us back from moving forward with some emotions," Derek explained.
"But I want to stay married with you, because I do believe I can fall in love with you."
With that being said, Katie nodded her head and have herself a moment to think.
Katie told Derek that she had grown to appreciate a lot about Derek and he was definitely committed to their marriage and to her.
"But I also feel like we have struggled. Sometimes I feel like it does feel more like just a friendship and I have really been struggling with making this decision," Katie said.
"I feel like we have really been lacking with our emotional connection, and part of me just really feels like my heart is not in it -- and I wish it was at this point. But I'm not ready to give up yet, so I would like to stay married."
"Awesome," Derek replied.
Katie said neither of them wanted to give up and so they could probably overcome a lot of obstacles together and maybe even fall in love. Katie cried and gave Derek a kiss, and he complimented her for being real and genuine.
"I do think there's a chance, and I think this chance is worth taking," Derek said.
Pepper told the couple that the experts really believed in them as a couple, and an emotional Katie was glad she and Derek came to the same conclusion.
Derek truly believed Katie was the woman with whom he'd fall in love, and he couldn't wait to start their lives together. Katie saw potential in Derek, that he could become the man she's been searching for.
Mindy and Zach confirm their decision to divorce
And finally, Mindy and Zach met with the experts although they had already decided to get a divorce. The experts wanted to make sure they felt supported and give Zach a chance to make amends for his behavior in their marriage.
This marked the first time Mindy and Zach had seen each other since deciding to separate, and Mindy said it brought back a lot of "negative emotions" she had throughout the marriage.
"Zach, just be straight with me. Did you get married at first sight to be married or to be on TV?" Pastor Cal asked.
"So the allure of TV or the possibility of fame or social exposure or any of that?" Pastor Cal probed.
"Absolutely not," Zach insisted. "This is not an avenue I would choose to pursue fame or being on TV."
Pastor Cal said it seemed Zach was constantly resistant through every step of the process, refusing to cooperate and "do what married people do."
Zach said he didn't realize how guarded he was and that his walls stayed up once he realized passion didn't exist between Mindy and himself. Zach said he was missing so much from the beginning with Mindy that he genuinely didn't know what to do.
"I look back and it was a huge mistake on my part to not at least put myself in that apartment and show her our private time was very valued, and I would admit that up and down all day," Zach said.
Mindy told Zach that he had it in him to be a good husband but he had not been a good husband to her.
"I'm sorry," Zach replied.
"I really do wish I had taken, even in the slightest, a different approach. I feel like you came into my life for a reason and I didn't handle that well. I wish I had done things very differently, because I think they would've been different."
Zach suggested he had a lot to offer women and people in general and so he was sorry his marriage to Mindy turned out like it did.
Zach said spending time with Mindy on and off-camera felt good and he was sad that happened so late in the process -- long after damage had been done. Zach told Mindy that he learned a lot from her and she had proved him wrong in a lot of areas when they were able to spend time together.
Mindy told Zach that she was glad this was a learning experience for him because he needed to learn how to treat people better.
"I feel like deciding to separate from Zach was the best thing I could have done, and ever since that day, I feel a huge weight has been lifted off me, and I'm in such a better place. This marriage, I put everything I had into it, but it was just not good for me," Mindy said.
Mindy assured the experts she felt healthy and was doing well.
Pepper said it's impossible to fix a broken marriage if only one spouse is putting in the effort.
"This was humbling for me because I genuinely feel like I let her down, just from a commitment standpoint," Zach said of Mindy.
"But I know what I have to offer to a woman that I have an emotional and attractive connection with. I'm not invested into a relationship if I don't have those things. It's hard for me to do that. It truly is. I didn't mean to hurt her. It feels terrible. It really does."
And Mindy felt good about returning to the happy life she had before Married at First Sight. She planned to start dating gradually and noted the man who ends up with her is going to be very lucky.
Brandon is a no-show at the post-"Decision Day" gathering
Afterward, Katie, Derek, Jessica, Austin, Mindy, Taylor and Meka all showed up to a restaurant to enjoy drinks together. Derek wasn't surprised to see that Taylor and Meka arrived without their husbands, but he called it "unfortunate."
However, Zach and Michael eventually showed up to the gathering. Katie and Derek revealed to the group they had signed a one-year apartment lease together, and Austin and Jessica shared they were looking for a new place.
The episode concluded with Derek and Katie moving in together under the happiest of circumstances.