MAFS is a unique TV program where ten couples are matched up by a panel of experts, then carry out a two month long experiment to see if the two fall in love. The couple will have a wedding ceremony, go on a honeymoon, live together and meet one another’s friends and family. Each week, they decide whether or not to stay in the experiment. At the end of the eight weeks, the couple decide to either go their separate ways or to renew their vows and become a couple in real life.
It’s a wildly popular program and Series 4 is now the #1 show on Australian TV. A lot of you reading this have watched MAFS before, but what can couples learn from this fascinating experiment to strengthen their own relationships? There are 5 lessons which I think are the most important.
1) Have each other’s back
One thing I noticed right away about the couples on MAFS who manage to succeed in their new relationships is that they stick together. When things get tough, they work together as a team to overcome rather than blaming one another for their problems. You need to be in your partner’s corner in good times and bad if you want your relationship to last.
2) Work together on meeting family and friends
This is an issue that every couple featured on MAFS has to deal with and it’s one of the most important parts of the experiment. Everyone wants their family and friends to approve of their romantic partners and this approval (or lack thereof) has a lot of bearing on their decision to stay in the relationship or not. Couples who talk about these meetings and come up with a plan for them tend to do quite well on the show. Talk to each other and agree to support one another, no matter what family and friends might do at first.
3) Talk it out, don’t fight it out
Different couples have different methods of resolving disagreements and this definitely includes the couples on MAFS. Some have a hard time expressing themselves, which leads to fights, personal attacks and general nastiness which drives the couple apart. However, there are also those who can speak softly and talk through their issues in a calm way and stay engaged with their partner – and these, of course, tend to be the couples who can make it work.
4) Be willing to change your expectations
Being willing and able to change the expectations you have in a relationship to adjust to reality is one of the biggest potential issues for any couples. Every participant on MAFS comes into the experiment with their own criteria of what they do and do not want in a partner. Some of them are able to adjust these expectations, while others will walk away from a perfectly good relationship because it falls short of perfect in one area. Couples who succeed on MAFS (and in life) are those who can approach their relationship with an open mind and are willing to learn from one another.
5) Follow your partner’s lead (at least sometimes)
Control is something that can become a source of conflict in relationships, especially in the context of a program like MAFS. Some participants are very outspoken people who like to be in charge, while others are happy to go along for the ride. However, the couples who generally do the best are those who can learn to let their partner occasionally take the lead. Learn to say yes to your partner; a successful relationship is built on compromise, consensus and shared decision making. When you treat each other as equals deserving of respect, you’re creating the right conditions for a loving relationship to blossom.