A new Channel 4 TV show entitled Married at First Sight will see volunteers who have never met before getting married in front of the TV cameras. This is not a completely new idea as something similar was undertaken by the Birmingham radio station BRMB in 1999. In this case, using a panel of experts in areas such as psychology, psychotherapy, anthropology and theology, a couple were “pitched together” and subsequently married. The groom, a 28-year-old called Greg Cawdell, who was a sales manager, married Carla Germaine a former model. The parties married but split soon afterwards.
Married at First Sight has already aired in Denmark. But how will UK couples react? Is this just another cheap publicity stunt to try and increase viewing figures? Does it undermine the sanctity of marriage? I am sure the programme will provoke a number of different views. According to the Radio Times, the show “aims to discover whether science can produce a successful relationship and whether the very act of marriage can itself help to create a logical bond that leads to true love”. It is interesting that back in 1999, when this first arose through BRMB, bride Carla Germaine went on to marry none other than Jeremy Kyle, considered to be the king of day-time TV with his controversial and confrontational shows.
The concept is one that has been a hit in different countries around Europe and indeed around the world. In certain cultures around the world, there are still arranged marriages. Are these options particularly different from this forthcoming TV project? I think they probably are.
As specialists in family law one things that never ceases to amaze us is the lack of real understanding around the legal bonds that are created by marriage. I wonder how carefully this has been looked into by the TV production company?
The very great majority of people enter into marriage for life, with full commitment. From a legal perspective that means a contractual bond which ties their financial affairs together and creates certain rights and responsibilities around any children they have together. So, I wonder. Will the couples in Married at first sight be signing prenuptial agreements to protect any assets they bring to the relationship?
Of course, marriage isn’t just about a legal bond, it is about a relationship, with all its ups and downs, all the stresses and strains. The older generations tend to argue that youngsters don’t work at things. They will readily point out that they have been married for 50 years plus because marriage has to be worked at and we have to play to each other’s strengths. Everyone has their own opinion, although it seems unlikely a TV programme will delve beyond the sensationalism of the first few weeks or months on the marriage.
Of course, it is difficult to make a relationship work, so if there is a magic formula, let’s see it in action (I’m not holding my breath mind you.)
Divorce lawyer, Derbyshire