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.
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