It's been said that marriage is a lot of hard work — and that's when you know the person you are marrying. So it comes as no surprise that as their honeymoons wore on, the three brave couples who took the plunge on Married at First Sight hit a few bumps (or, more accurately, gigantic mountains) in the road.
The December 22 episode kicked off with David Norton struggling to get his bride, Ashley Doherty, to let down her a guard. "We're still getting to know each other, but I'm glad I'm married. I can't stop playing with my wedding ring," David said as he beamed at the camera. Ashley, meanwhile, continued to describe the situation as "uncomfortable." Ironically, it seemed the more David tried to pry Ashley out of her shell, the more she clammed up.
When she told him point-blank that she wanted to spend a night at her home by herself when they got back from their trip, however, David's sunny disposition finally dampened. "Come on!" he said to the camera in frustration. "She's not giving me much of an option to go off to build this marriage." Still, they were doing well compared to the other newlyweds.
Vanessa Breaks Down in Tears
Still reeling from Tres Russell's laissez-faire attitude toward marriage, Vanessa Nelson broke down. "I'm concerned that he's not ready for marriage, so it's a big deal to me," she said to the camera before getting on a much needed Skype call with clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona.
"I'm just fearful that maybe I'm a little more mature relationship-wise, and he might have just gotten convinced to do this on a whim," Vanessa said as the tears started to flow. Cilona assured her that Tres was ready for marriage and that she was going to have to "develop trust." She responded with more tears.
Samantha Calls Neil a P---y One Too Many Times
Note to all future brides: Men don't like it when you challenge their manhood. Repeatedly. On your honeymoon. Cilona explained, "One reason that we thought Sam [Role] was a good match for Neil [Bowlus] is that Sam is a very frank and direct communicator, and I think that's a great fit to Neil's passive personality." Cilona was right about one thing — Sam is frank, all right.
As Sam and Neil made an emergency trip to the dentist because she had a toothache, she insulted Neil for taking too long to get ready, carrying a "murse" and driving like a grandma.
"He's a very passive guy. I prefer a guy that is more aggressive in terms of playing into their gender role," Sam lamented to the camera, apparently not considering the idea that since she ended up on this show, perhaps the guys she had been picking weren't so great for her. But it was not lost on Neil that Sam wanted someone "more aggressive."
Tensions heated between them until, during a game of tetherball, the situation hit its boiling point. When Sam asked Neil to stop calling her fake, he snapped back, “OK, how about you don't call me a p---y? Or not call me a man's man? Maybe treat me like an adult or a man." To his credit, the normally passive Neil was finally taking a stand.
"If you had said it at the time I would have apologized, but right now the only thing I'm sorry for is that you didn't tell me," Sam replied before storming off to eat dinner alone.
Whatever You Do, Don't Touch Ashley's Knee
After her announcement that she wanted time alone to "decompress" once they returned from their honeymoon, Ashley and David set out for what was supposed to be a romantic helicopter ride. "I'm not attracted to David, but I haven't told him yet," she said to the camera — just in case that wasn't crystal clear. While en route to the launching pad, David tried to make small talk and Ashley pretended to be busy on her phone.
Things didn't improve once they were in the air, either. David, anxious about the altitude, placed his hand on Ashley's knee, hoping she might ease his nerves. She didn't. Instead, Ashley stared at his hand as if she were willing him to move it with her mind. "I don't want some stranger in my personal space," she explained.
When they finally got back and David forced her to talk about what was going through her mind, she told him, "I don't feel a romantic connection, and I feel like it's not fair to you." To his credit, David took the blow like a champ and responded by offering to sleep separately from Ashley. But while he was a total gentleman with her, he admitted to the camera that he felt terribly "embarrassed" that she refused to open up to him.
One Near-Death Experience and Three Happy Turns
Things didn't end as badly as they'd begun, however. In fact, every single couple was on the upswing as their honeymoons came to a close. Ironically, after all of her complaining about Neil's slow driving, Sam took the wheel during a (nonfilmed) car ride — and "almost killed" them. Apparently, speed-happy Sam had made a left turn into the wrong lane and nearly caused a head-on collision with another vehicle at full speed. As she recounted the near-fatal accident, she praised Neil for his calm but effective response.
"Just that calm demeanor meant more than he probably knows. If he had reacted any other way we would probably be in the hospital right now," she explained. "He did a good job being the rock for us in that moment." It sounded like Sam was rethinking the way she defined a man's man, and that was good news for the future of their marriage.
As for Ashley and David, after sexologist Dr. Logan Levkoff ordered them to give each other manicures to force some physical contact, something in Ashley clicked. She didn't like the manicure activity, but she did realize that David had a "fun kid side" that she should embrace. "Less thinking and more doing and seeing what happens," she declared as they tested out the resort's waterslide.
Something also seemed to click with Vanessa. After her chat with Cilona, she returned with a new attitude. Instead of continuing to question Tres' motives, Vanessa told him that she appreciated the work he'd put into their union so far and shifted her focus to their chemistry, which she happily declared was "still there."
It was so there, in fact, that on their last night Vanessa mused "I could see Tres and me falling in love and really being in love” — while he hung a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door with a huge grin on his face.
Married at First Sight airs on A&E Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST.
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