Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sam Role's Relationship With Neil Bowlus Post Married at First Sight Season 3

Sam Role may not have found her forever love with Neil Bowlus on Season 3 of FYI's Married at First Sight, but she gained some important knowledge about how to be a better person, for both herself and her future relationships. However, that knowledge did not come without paying a hefty price. Sam was devastated when Neil chose to divorce her on 'Decision Day'. Despite the fact that she felt it was deserved, it was an embarrassing moment that was difficult for her to experience and equally as tough to watch. 

In order to recognize the changes she made, Sam had to take an honest look at her mistakes along the way. One regret she had was moving home. "I thought it was a good idea so Neil could get to know Sammie. But at the end of the day, if there is one thing I could have changed or done over, I would not have come back to my house. I would have stayed in a more neutral ground." She added, "Even though I didn't say, 'this is my place,' Neil felt it, and rightfully so."

Watching the show gave Sam insight on the impact the house key incident had on Neil, as well. She shared her thoughts, "Although we were strapped for time and I did give him my key, there could have been a way that I could have made him his own key. I know the move was temporary, but I feel like if I were in his position, making a key would have gone over and above to make me feel a little bit more welcome."

When Neil admitted he became more disengaged throughout the process, Sam was surprised. "Honestly, I had no idea that he wasn't interested. Neil is a very stoic person. One thing I've learned about him is he needs time to analyze and think about things. So making a snap decision on something very important isn't easy for him. I feel like a lot of the time he may have been in his head about it, but he didn't let it show in his behaviors and emotions." 

As an extrovert, Sam admired Neil's ability to keep his thoughts and behaviors in check. "He doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve, which is the opposite of me. For that, I give him so much credit. If I could do that, I would be so proud of myself," she admitted.  

However, Neil's ability to hold himself in check also caused her, and viewers, some confusion. "From day one, he told me he was committed. Even when Dr. Pepper came to the house and after that, he always said he was committed." 

The extreme roller coaster of emotions that fans experienced was nothing compared to what Sam was feeling on that final day. "I was really starting to care for him a lot. I had more butterflies in my stomach on 'Decision Day' than I did the day we got married. I always knew that I wanted to stay married. That morning we had talked about giving it another shot for at least one more day or one more week, to see where it would go. That's where we left it before we met with the experts." 

When it came time for Neil to tell her his decision, Sam felt blind-sided. Neil's choice of words, that he was completely committed to wanting a divorce, gave both her and viewers a brief moment of hope that was quickly dashed. Sam shared with deep emotion, "Those words played over and over in my head. It was definitely harsh. I thought he was going to say he was committed to the marriage." Sadly, that wasn't the case. 

Sam chose not to question Neil about his response. "Obviously, I had done so much damage, that to question him on how he said those things or how he felt would just be something that he wouldn't find attractive." In looking back, she now feels Neil phrased it that way so she would know he was sure it was the right decision for him. 

That night when Sam parted from Neil and the experts, she let herself feel every single emotion from the six weeks. "I remember coming to the house and just crying hysterically. I thought of all the things that we'd gone through, all the things that I had said or done to him that could have hurt him, and I just knew that the only thing I could do now is respect him and his wishes."

That realization set the tone for their surprisingly amicable meeting back at the house the next day. "If there is one time to be selfless, this is the time. Crying, being mean, or having attitude wasn't going to change anything. It would have pushed him further away," she explained. At that time, there was still a glimmer of hope in her eyes. She continued, "I figured that maybe if I give him his space and respected him, it could work out in the future."

Sam went alone on the trip to Costa Rica that she and Neil had talked about taking together. While there, she sent Neil a playful email telling him, "I'm going on a dive tomorrow. If I don't email you, trust that the sharks got me, so pick up the turtle you got me and take him with you." After his equally playful response to that email, they had a break in communication for several weeks.

Fans have been asking where their relationship stands now. Did they ever make an effort at getting back together? According to Sam the answer is 'yes'. She shared, "The end of November, beginning of December, we were hanging out to see if we could try and make things work. We actually spent one weekend every week the month of December together. We'd go to dinner and then talk on the phone during the week. The weekend before Christmas we met and exchanged Christmas presents." While that certainly seemed hopeful, it was short-lived.

The following week Sam received some news she didn't want to hear. Neil told her over the phone, he didn't think it was going to work because he didn't have feelings for her. "It's still hard, but at least we tried and I gave it everything I could. In the end, I'm not going to beg someone to be with me," she said with resignation. 

Despite the fact she was hoping for another outcome, she and Neil are in the same place they were on reunion day...they have simply remained good friends. Sam has had time to heal and is at peace with the way things have turned out. "Although I would love for there to be more, it's simply not in the cards for him. I love the fact that our friendship is pretty close. I can call and talk to him about anything in general and he's always very, very supportive." She added, "During the airing of the show, he would call and check on me to see how I was doing because for a while there, I had it pretty rough on social media." 

Sam went on further to say that she trusts Neil a lot more than a lot of people and is thankful she still has him in her life. "I think going through this whole process with someone and then never wanting to talk to them again is such a sad thing. There is nobody else in the world who has gone through this with you. At the end of the day, when it comes to the growth, you learn from each other. You have to see that as a blessing." 

Sam is taking the great things she learned from this experiment and applying them to her everyday life. "When I say I'm happy I got matched with Neil, it is completely true. I wouldn't change it," she said with heartfelt emotion.

In the final part of my interview, we'll talk about Sam's specific take-aways and what she learned from each of the experts. 


Friday, March 25, 2016

Honest Talk with Sam Role on Married at First Sight Season 3

Photo credit: FYI

Sam Role had everything going for her in life...a great family, friends and a fantastic
career. The one thing she didn't have was someone to love. 

While Sam dated regularly in college, it became more of a challenge after graduation. "It's hard to meet men out at events, I don't go out to bars much and I definitely don't believe in dating men I work with," she admitted. 

Like many other singles, she also tried the online dating scene for a period of time, to no avail. 

Sam openly shared about a man she met through her best friend Sammie, "My last boyfriend was a guy I dated a few years ago. He was a sweetheart. I really cared for him, but he lives in NY, so it was hard to continue the relationship."

Like so many others, Sam fell in love with the idea of Married at First Sight while watching Cortney, Jamie and Monet during season one. With hope that this could be her opportunity to find her soulmate, she applied for the show. She exclaimed, "One day, I received an email asking me if I was still interested in going through the process of selection and matching for Married at First Sight. It just took off from there!" 

Photo credit: FYI

The presence of cameras and the experts at the first meeting was unexpected. "From day one I realized, this is for real. This is really about to happen," she said. 

The application process was quite lengthy and took several months. Sam explained one thing she felt was important, "You have to really be prepared to open up and be as honest as possible. The more information the experts have, the more they can match you with somebody."

When it came to specific characteristics, it was important that she be matched with someone that not only had a family, but valued the importance of family. She elaborated further, "I also wanted somebody who is spontaneous, active, liked to do things outdoors and take trips, someone who is career driven and able to communicate."

Sam shared that she wasn't as particular when it came to physical traits. "There is no perfect man, so I was trying to be as general as possible. I feel like looks will fade with time. I've dated so many different types of guys, so I knew what I found attractive. But I didn't want to put that down on my application and have it hinder me from meeting somebody."

As far as deal breakers, Sam listed one...she wanted a person of Faith. 

We saw that Sam was not initially attracted to Neil, but that attraction grew over time. "Staying open to the process, I knew there was a good reason they matched me with him. I feel like at the end of the day, the experts did a great job. They really listened to what I said when it came to what I was looking for in a match." 

Photo credit: Kinetic Content

Sam made profound personal growth during the 6 weeks of her marriage. Although she is a completely different person now, I wanted to understand the emotion behind her initial treatment of Neil. "It was really rough when I first met him. I had just lost my grandmother. On top of that, I have really bad anxiety and it came out pretty bad the first couple of weeks," she admitted.

In addition, she shared what was going on in her head. "It was weird waking up next to a stranger. We weren't communicating the same way, so it was a little frustrating for me. I'm really pretty good at trying to figure out a way to communicate with people and I just couldn't crack him. At the end of the day, I was letting my anxiety drive my behaviors, which is really bad, because I was thinking very small-minded." 

While Sam was an open book, Neil was very stoic and did a good job of handling his emotions. The tetherball fight was her first indication that he was hurt by her humor and sarcasm. "I was thinking that if I could take it, he could too. That was not the case. Obviously, my form of communication was not benefiting us and was hurting him. I needed to stop doing that," she said. 

Another "aha" moment for Sam was when her dad, Bob Role, visited the couple during week three of their marriage. Sam explained, "My dad and I are like two peas in a pod. He is very much like me when it comes to behaviors and attitude." 

Photo credit: FYI

It was clear that Bob took to Neil from the moment he saw him at the altar. When he finally had a chance to observe her behavior and talk to Sam, she took what he said to heart. 

That talk came when she brought him to see her new house after their barbecue. She explained, "We were sitting outside and I was showing him my patio when my dad said, 'You know Sam, I gotta say, I love you a lot, but you are being a complete bitch to Neil and I don't even understand why. He doesn't deserve it.' " 

Those words hit home for Sam. "Sometimes you need to hear it from the people that know you best. If my dad was saying it, than clearly I am not being a nice person right now. In that moment, I realized I was putting my walls up and being quite defensive and crass because of not knowing what was going to happen. I was taking it out on Neil for absolutely no reason." 

Although behaviors don't change overnight, the one thing Sam did do was evaluate and change the way she spoke to Neil. "Immediately I stopped being so harsh and cold, almost like using my words as a knife. I quit doing that and began communicating more effectively." Watching the show, we saw that change and gave a collective sigh. 

Photo credit: Kinetic Content

While Sam's feelings for Neil were growing, we saw him pulling away. She acknowledged, "I really didn't feel a change until probably the last week when I started getting touchy, feely with him. In my gut, I started to feel that he was regressing." 

Her instincts were right. Unfortunately, the experiment was only 6 weeks and the changes she made ended up being too little too late. Sam's early behaviors had a huge impact on Neil's gut-wrenching decision to divorce Sam on 'Decision Day'. 

In part 2 of my interview with Sam Role, we'll look at the rest of her journey, talk about her personal transformation and find out how she is doing after their devastating split. 


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Married at First Sight S:3 E:14 - Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

No one was surprised when Ashley and David parted ways in part 1 of the Married at First Sight Decision Day. For the other two couples, we were left with a cliffhanger that had viewers in knots for an entire week.

After what seemed like forever, we finally got to see the decisions from the other two couples. I have to admit I watched the second half of the episode with my jaw on the floor. Let's start from the beginning.

First of all, the experts who match these couples take it very seriously. Do they want them to succeed? There is no question at how invested they are. But they also realize the many variables that are out of their hands. 
I really hope that these couples stay together. I want them to work out. But if they don't, I want them all to have had some incredible personal growth that will help them greatly, whatever the future may hold for them. ~Dr. Logan Levkoff

Tres and Vanessa

Photo credit: Kinetic Content
We waited with baited breath to see Vanessa and Tres pledge to stay married. Whew! The look on the faces of Dr. Pepper and Greg Epstein said it all. Yes, there is work to do, but there is work in every single marriage. 

Tres and Vanessa have successfully shown how to meet, marry, and then build a foundation of trust with a stranger. Each week we saw them show great effort on how to communicate and work through tough issues, despite the challenges this social experiment presents. 

There were times when Vanessa needed space to gather her thoughts and reflect away from cameras, which is a normal and healthy reaction. Tres was kind, patient and encouraging with Vanessa. They both made mistakes, owned them and then made changes for the better. With the newly gained knowledge they obtained from the experts, I see no issue that can't be worked through if they stay committed to each other and the process. 

A key point is when Vanessa shared she learned marriage is a constant compromise. 
Now that we've decided to stay married, our energy and our focus can all be towards making the marriage a success. ~Vanessa Nelson

I wish them all my best as they learn how to maneuver through this maze we call "life" in the real world.

Neil and Sam

Photo credit: Kinetic Content
Sam is the epitome of how to learn and grow from this social experiment. Like Ashley, she started out completely closed off and disengaged. However, she took the advice of the experts to heart and applied it to herself and her relationship with Neil. We heard Sam say this experience has changed her life and made her who she is today. 
I have learned that I did not manage myself properly...I've learned how to communicate in an effective and not a destructive way. If not for you, I don't think I would be the person I am now, my best self. ~Sam Role
I have to be honest and say I was shocked by Neil's decision to divorce Sam. All three of the guys were committed this season, but Neil had an added advantage with the successful role model of his grandparents arranged marriage. 

Neil spoke about the phenomenal progress they made from where they started. He vowed throughout the whole process that he was committed, so to say I was blindsided as a viewer, is putting it lightly. As I ponder this, I realize that while Sam was an open book, Neil totally internalized his emotions. The depth of how he was feeling was not apparent to either her or us. 

Sam continued to be real with Neil during their parting conversation and despite the devastating blow of the previous day, she handled herself with dignity. They parted friends and hopefully we'll see that they remain friends.

Next week is the 6 month reunion show and we will see how far they've come as individuals and couples. 

No matter the outcome for the couples, I reflect on how far my husband and I have come from watching Married at First Sight. The day-to-day impact on our relationship has been life-changing and I will forever be thankful for that. 

Watch Season 3 of Married at First Sight on Tuesdays at 9/8c on FYI and A&E