The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
Like many of you I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time watching all of the shows and thought it would be fun to have a little recap of what’s been happening on a couple of my favorites and dig into some of the themes that have popped up. Joining me today to chat about the most recent episodes of This Is Us and Married at First Sight is Beverley Andre, LMFT. Related to This Is Us, Beverley and I chatted about the power of the stories we hold onto in our lives, the impact of grief as shown in the episode, the symbolism of water, and the importance of having nonjudgmental safe spaces like the ones that often exist with our aunties. We also chatted about the newest season of Married at First Sight. We discussed some of our thoughts about the compatibility and readiness of some of the couples, what you might want to think about before choosing to apply for this type of show, our thoughts about what indicates success for the couples, and of course some of the red flags that already seem to be popping up this season. This conversation does include spoilers for both shows!
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Session 193: What We’re Watching!
Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 193 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. Like many of you, I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time watching all of the shows, and thought it would be fun to have a little recap of what's been happening on a couple of my favorites and dig into some of the themes that have popped up. Joining me today to chat about the most recent episodes of This Is Us and Married at First Sight is Beverley Andre.
Beverley is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the states of Florida, New York and New Jersey, and is the owner of BeHeart Counseling Services. Her work teaches black and brown women how to break down and unpack narratives that no longer serve them. She's a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and is also a Prepare/Enrich certified premarital facilitator.
Beverley and I chatted about the breathtaking last episode of This Is Us entitled Birth Mother. We discussed the power of the stories we hold on to in our lives, the impact of grief as it's shown in this episode, the symbolism of water, and the importance of having non-judgmental safe spaces like the ones that often exist with our aunties.
We also chatted about the newest season of Married at First Sight. We discussed some of our thoughts about the compatibility and readiness of some of the couples, what you might want to think about before choosing to apply for this type of show, our thoughts about what indicates success for the couples, and of course some of the red flags that already seem to be popping up this season. This conversation does include spoilers so if you haven't watched either episode and you want to, press pause here and save it until you're done. And be sure to share your thoughts about these shows with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession. Here's our conversation.
Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for joining me today, Beverley.
Beverley: Thank you for having me, Dr. Joy. I really appreciate it. You're like my shero.
Dr. Joy: Thank you! Yeah, so Beverley and I and Dr. Cokley have this kind of informal little text thing going on on Twitter where we live tweet This is Us and so I felt like I could not let the last episode of This is Us go without talking about it on the podcast. Just so many different themes and it was just shot so beautifully. I feel like we talk about this a lot on the podcast, just how some episodes of TV–like we talked about this with Insecure, we talked about this with Queen Sugar–some episodes of TV are just done so beautifully. And I think we have to start by talking about the black women who had their hand all in this episode, so it was written by Eboni Freeman and Kay Oyegun and also directed by Kay. And I feel like that is a large part of why it was just so incredible.
Beverley: Right. Like I knew something was different about this episode. And I can't remember who tweeted it, but they were like, oh, two black women pretty much spearheaded this. And I was like there is no other person that I could have imagined that would have been able to tell the story of Randall’s family. In addition to his mother, but his family, and to see the dynamics of them living in New Orleans and everything that went into why things were done within their family.
Dr. Joy: Yeah. And I do feel like there is a way that that story was told that it had to have come from black people. Like, the nuances and just the dynamics in the relationships felt very familiar. Yeah, yeah. So this felt like one of those hallmark episodes for This is Us, and I feel like they give us at least one every season, right? And who knows, they might turn up the drama and we get multiple this season, but it feels like every season there is at least one of these episodes that brings so many other pieces of the story together.
And so in this episode, of course, we get the full backstory about what has happened with Randall’s mother. And so up until this point, Randall has had the story of like his coming into the earth as being dropped off at the fire station because his mom died and adopted by the white family. And now we get this whole backstory about what has really happened with his birth mom, Laurel. So what did you think about this episode, just kind of in connection to all of the other things we see in the series?
Beverley: Everything that I’ve seen in this series, I think the episode that sticks out to me the most would be with him and William, I think it's like the Memphis episode. You really got to understand William, his backstory and what led him to being where he was in life. And I think the same honor and reverence that was given to William was given to Laurel. Because up until this point, Laurel was just like, okay, well, you know... She was just a black woman who got caught up on drugs and she OD’d and that was it. And I just think about the symbolism of how black people, especially black women, we are limited to these descriptors like, oh, well, she's that, she’s that and this is what happened to her. I think about how we don't really delve into who that person is, their likes, their wants, their desires, their hopes, their dreams–I think this episode captured all of it.
Like when she was a little girl, and you can clearly see like her desire to just be free-spirited, to explore all the things but still having to live in the confines of being a respectable child. Her dad's a banker, they are part of high society to a degree. And it's just like, she's sitting at dinner with her dad and he asks these questions and I could see the anxiety in her. Like, I have to live up to his expectations of me when in reality all I want to do is just go swim in the lake, not worry about my press and curl, and chill barefoot in the garden with my aunt. You know, so I think about just the dualities of us having to live out these expectations but not really live out what we really want to do in life, or just to have those life experiences.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. Yeah and you know, when I was watching it... So I've watched it at least three times now, but what really stood out to me, and I'm glad you pointed this out, is that it feels like there is a real connection between who Laurel was as a young woman and who Beth actually was as a young woman, right, and some of those same family pressures. So we saw in one of those episodes, I think maybe last season or two seasons ago, this whole tension between Beth and her mom and wanting to dance and so it feels like they came from similar backgrounds. So I found it really interesting that even though Randall did not grow up with a connection to his birth mother, he still ended up with someone who very much feels familiar to who his birth mother was.
Beverley: Right, who had similar journeys. And so I think about the parallels of black girls and their parents and what goes into parenting. I'm not a mother yet but I just think about what narratives do I want to carry on with my children? How do I want to parent them? Do I want to parent them to live their lives to their fullness how they want? Or am I going to have a stronger voice in how I perceive their lives should turn out? Because when their dad was like, “Oh, you know, he's wanting to propose to you and you will say yes,” I was like, she is a young lady and you're literally telling her, “This is how your life is going to be carried out.” And I'm just thinking about, like, where does that stem from? What is that connected to? How can another individual literally say this is what you're going to do for the rest of your life? Because assuming that, you know, she got married and divorce was just not tolerated, it’s like you fall in line or you’re X’ed out just like his sister was.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm, yeah. And I think that often happens and I think, sadly, a lot of it generationally comes from a place of survival. So these ideas that our parents and our grandparents, our great grandparents, had for what was successful and what was needed for people to really just survive as black people in the world. I think it came from that place but I think we do have to examine whether that still fits for us now. And sadly, I do think a lot of parents still carry on this “this is what I want for your life” with very little leeway being given to what the child actually wants their life to look like.
Beverley: Right. Because that parenting, like you said, comes out of survival mode, it comes out I am parenting you in a way so that you can live to see another day, so that you can have the best possible outcome of doing okay in this life. Because they have that recognition of what it is to be black in America, especially in New Orleans at the time, like you want to align with people who can essentially take care of you. And so you don't want to shame the family, you don't want to bring dishonor to the family, you need to stick to our values and our morals. You need to learn these proverbs because when you learn the proverbs then you can live out those proverbs.
Not to say that it wasn't important to her, but it wasn't the sum of Laurel's experience. She didn't want that to be the sum of her experience; she wanted more. And unfortunately, she couldn't find more in her household. Like she knew if she still stayed in that town, she would not be able to live a life that she thought was worthy of her.
Dr. Joy: Right: So I want to go back to something that you mentioned because I also thought that this was so beautiful. Just the relationship that aunties have in our lives. And so it really felt like there was just such a beautiful relationship between Laurel and her aunt May. I think that that speaks to kind of being able to have safe adults in your life, as a kid. And I don't know... Correct me if I'm wrong, Beverley, did they really go into why the dad and Aunt May had such a fractured relationship?
Beverley: So she made a comment when Laurel came back. She made a comment that she had fell in love with a man who was married and she had got pregnant.
Dr. Joy: Okay.
Beverley: And I can assure you that, you know...
Dr. Joy: Yeah, that probably would not have gone *[inaudible 0:12:18] at that time.
Beverley: Like you got this scarlet letter like forever, so I'm gonna assume that's what it was.
Dr. Joy: Got it. Got it, okay. Yeah, so I wonder if you had some thoughts about that. Just about, like the theme of kind of having these people in your life. And it feels like a lot of times it is an auntie who is the person you can talk to you if you can't talk to your mom or your dad. Or the person who maybe teaches you to drive or teaches you about sex, right? Like these people who are maybe outside of your parental unit but are still very safe and comforting to you as a child.
Beverley: Right. They are trusted individuals and also individuals who don't take on the responsibility of another individual's choices. I think when it comes to parents, some parents, it is very difficult for them to not see their child's choices as a reflection of them. When you have an auntie, someone who is removed from that responsibility, it’s like I can hold space for you to be who you need to be right now. Right? I'm going to give you that advice if you want that advice, I'm going to be that shoulder for you.
And also, I'm going to highlight how you can own your feelings. Because when her and Aunt May were at the lake and Jackson (her brother) passed, she validated everything that Laurel was unable to explain. And then she was just like, you know what, just go in the water and do what you need to do. And like she put the love into action. She literally told her just take the time for yourself. Scream, do whatever you need but own this space. Own these feelings that you have.
And I can imagine that that's not something that she received from her parents, right? I'm not gonna assume anything because we didn't get the backstory but, you know, for how things were so closed off in the family, I can't imagine them coming together and sharing in their grief. I could assume that it was probably maybe very isolating for how they each experienced their grief. So to have that shared connection with Aunt May, I think that was beautiful. I felt her scream like it came from the guts. Like that was *[inaudible 0:14:33] truth coming out of her mouth. I just felt that.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, yeah. And I think you're right, I think there's something incredibly poignant about kind of teaching her how to do that for herself because we would see her often return to the water. So it was a very powerful kind of modeling of self-care and like this is how you cope and this is how you tolerate your distress in a lot of ways, is by giving it to the water.
Beverley: Right. And I just think about the symbolism of water. Rebirth, refreshing, baptismal. You know, like you leaving the old behind and rising, you know. Washing away of sin, just all of that. All of those burdens that people just hold on to. Just the symbolism of going in that water, dunking in your head, not worried about your press and curl and just being real.
Dr. Joy: Yeah. And how beautiful was it? I mean, we're kind of clearly going out of time but that doesn't matter. How beautiful was it to then have that kind of towards the end with Randall going to the water, right? Oh, so incredible, so incredible. I mean, you know, to kind of go to this place where he knows that his mother has also visited and then have her visit him basically in the water. And I just thought about how powerful that symbolism was that he was then now able to kind of leave these burdens in the water.
Beverley: I'm literally teary-eyed because that full circle moment, I said: God, they did it. They did it. This is a moment in TV history that you will never forget. Because he has never truly had a relationship with his mother (and I believe you can have relationships with people beyond the physical but he didn't have any context to her life, nothing) so when he got into that water and he was just honest with himself and honest to his mother... The hurt, the feelings of “I thought I was abandoned, I thought I was unwanted, I thought I was unloved.” When he was talking to Hai, and he was like, why didn't she come find me? I literally heard the child voice of Randall: Why didn't she love me? Why did she leave me? Why didn't she come look for me? Did she not...
All of those questions that were unsaid came out in that scene. All of the hurt, all the resentment, all of that came out when he was in that water. And when he said that he was... I think he was talking to Beth and he was like, “I just feel lighter, I just feel better.” I mean, can you think about it? All your life, 40 something years old, thinking that your people didn't want you?
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm.
Beverley: I don't know what that does to you mentally to just think that. To not know your roots and to be in your family land that's now yours?
Dr. Joy: Right. Just so many things going on and I think it's interesting because we do have a little bit of an inkling of what has happened with Randall, is that he's developed some pretty significant anxiety. At least, you know, that's one of the things that we know that he's worked with a therapist on. So we can kind of see now with the whole story how some of that has kind of impacted him in his life.
Beverley: Right. He has lived a life, the inception of his life has been out of control so in every facet of his life, he tries to control. We know as therapists that there's no way that you can control everything in life but there's certain measures you can take. But when he tries to do that in all his relationships–work relationships, personal–like he was driving himself *[inaudible 0:18:04] Like having panic attacks and not being able to sleep and it manifesting physically. I'm just really excited to see his journey moving forward, now that that piece of his life that he's been able to gain access to.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, and I think it feels like he didn't fully understand the weight of how not having this piece of the story had impacted him because he had always just believed that she died kind of right after giving birth to him. And so there was no way, really, for him to know that there was another part of this story. And so you're right, I am also excited to see where the story will take him, now that we do have this additional piece of the story.
Beverley: That break was everything.
Dr. Joy: Yeah. And you know what else I thought about, Beverley, in thinking about... So it'll be interesting, one, to kind of... Because we know he has a black male therapist that he's working with now and so it'll be interesting to, one, see if he talks about this. Well, I'm sure he will talk about this with his therapist, but I don't know if we'll get to see it.
Beverley: I’m sure Beth will remind him.
Dr. Joy: You're right, you're right. But in describing what happened to him in the water, I also thought about this feels like an issue of like cultural sensitivity also. Because I think if he is telling that story to you or I or to his black therapist that he sees on the show, there's no like, okay, what's going on here? I think that there's an instant like, “yeah, we get it.” Like you were connecting to your mother in a way that felt very significant and powerful. Whereas I don't know if a non-black therapist gets the weight of that or even questions like, oh, is this a delusion? Like what's happening here? So that scene also made me think about just the importance of like being culturally attuned to different experiences with people who have passed.
Beverley: Right. I think that was like probably the first time that I really saw an aspect of Randall’s spirituality and the supernatural. I mean, I know that he went to the church when he was trying to get elected, but the scene in the water, just the spiritual connection and the healing that comes from that, I think is very specific to the black experience. I don't even know how I would be able to convey that experience to a non-black therapist. And I think, hearing their conversation, I really hope that they do, honestly. I really hope that they have a scene where you hear Randall just talking about how the manifestation of his mother and how it connected to his healing. With his grief, with his understanding of who he is, who his family is. But he now has access to family so if he wanted to go see if he has cousins or other aunts, like, all of that is now a possibility for him. When before that video went viral, it was not a possibility.
Dr. Joy: Right, right. Yeah, I know they will be masterful in the storytelling so we’ve just got to kind of stay tuned, I'm sure. We'll hear more from Beverley right after this break.
Dr. Joy: So the other thing that you have mentioned a couple of times that was clearly something else that was prominent in this episode, was the idea of grief and we saw that in multiple different ways. So just the grief related to Randall already kind of not knowing this full piece of the story with his mother but also the grief with her related to kind of having to leave her family because they didn't agree with her decisions. The grief of losing her brother, the grief of not being able to have as close of a relationship with Aunt May as she would like. So it felt like there just was grief compounding on grief compounding on grief, that I think we then see kind of how her life unfolds when she hasn't really been able to process that.
Beverley: I mean, that, it just felt a cloud of just heaviness. Like, you know, I told you earlier that I'm from Florida and when it rains, that humidity and the weight of that is just so heavy, and that's what it felt like the entire episode. One moment for me was when the cops arrested her. First of all, the judgment from the nurses. So that's a whole separate conversation about, you know, judgment from the medical profession in addition to cops and all of that. But when she went to go call her dad and it was just like silence. Like she wasn't saying anything, it was just breathing. And I think the most important heaviest moments of that episode was the hope of will she ask her dad for help?
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm.
Beverley: And she just put the phone down and my heart just broke because I knew. I knew it was gonna go downhill from there. I knew it. You hear about the prison being so full, they sent her all the way to California. I’m just thinking just her experience of being on a whole other side of the US, not knowing what happened to her child, not knowing what happened to William and just having to sit in a cell and just reflect about the course of your life. The loss of your brother, the loss of your child and not really having the support that you would need. That scene when she was walking back towards Aunt May, you didn’t see somebody just broken?
Dr. Joy: Just dejected. That’s the word.
Beverley: That was the... I have nothing. I have nothing, I'm about to topple over. And that was for me a picture of grief. When I can barely hold myself up, I have nothing. It’s me, myself and I and I don't know what to do because the weight of the world has crushed me. And it keeps crushing even though I'm already down.
Dr. Joy: Right. Yeah and I think again, kind of going full circle to just her being able to have that relationship with Aunt May, is that when she knew she couldn't even call her dad, she knew that she could... I'm not surprised at all that that's where she ended up with for the rest of her life.
Beverley: Yeah, she knew that she would be welcomed. Like that home was appreciated as a safe space for her. Even when the opportunity came for Aunt May to shame her when she saw the track marks on her arm and she said you don't need to hide that from me. Like, there's no judgment here. Like, in your worst experiences, for you to know that there's a witness, like a personal... Someone who's personal to you, witnessing remnants of your most horrible time in life and for them to say I'm not even worried about that. Like that type of support, a lot of people don't have, unfortunately. That you can love me even if. And I think her being able to stand with her, still give her love, still support her, validate her, all of those feelings, I’m just like: Aunt May, you are like the MVP of this whole entire episode. Because that’s that sustaining love.
Dr. Joy: Yes. Yeah and I think kind of speaking to what you're talking about, it definitely feels like something that Laurel was holding a lot of was just incredible guilt. About not knowing what happened to Randall and how can I even contact him? And so it really feels like something else that Aunt May was able to do, was to help her to release some of that guilt. Which is why I think the reunion in the water also was so incredibly powerful because it feels like, in some ways, that gave her some peace even in the afterlife.
Beverley: As you kind of said, you know, Aunt May did help her release some of that guilt. Because I felt like she died with still experiencing shame and guilt. I can't remember if she was talking to Hai and she was like, you know, I wanted to figure out where he was but I didn't feel like up-ending his life, essentially. And I'm just thinking about, I wonder if there was more to that. You know, that shame aspect? Like if I would go and look for my child and you're however old you are and you asked me, “Well, why didn't you come get me sooner?” Having to retell your story, a story that you don't even feel comfortable owning. Like I can't even imagine the weight of that for her.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. I think it was also really telling that when Randall did get this vision of her in the water, it wasn't an asking of a question of like, why did you leave me? Like it feels like he had already made peace with what the story was, and so that they could have that moment of really just being able to be connected in that way. And so, and then to be able to part kind of knowing that what they've kind of come to do has been accomplished.
Beverley: Right, right. I think I need to just go rewatch that episode.
Dr. Joy: I mean, you can definitely do worse things with your time than rewatch this episode, even if it's just for that scene.
Beverley: Oh, my gosh, it was just so good.
Dr. Joy: The water scene was just incredible.
Beverley: And she apologized to him.
Dr. Joy: Yes, yes. I mean, and he will keep that with him and I think that's why we see in the next scene how much this has opened him up. (Now we know we're gonna head into this whole situation.) So on the way back to Philadelphia from New Orleans, we see that he calls Kevin after they had not been talking for some time and then immediately after, we see that Kevin gets in an accident. So I'm sure that's where we're gonna focus now, but it feels like having a completion to this story has now made space for him to kind of think through, like, okay, what other things do I just need to let go of in my life?
Beverley: Right. And to show up fully in his relationships, especially with his siblings. Because I think, you know, we've been seeing hints of the reckoning of Randall’s experience as a black child in a white family and whether that space was held for him. I do think that Jack and Beck tried, but I still can't get over the fact that Rebecca did know where his dad was and then was like, “Uh-uh, you can't have no contact with him.” So that's still a sore spot but I just think about just his siblings and whether or not they really realized the impact of how they related to Randall. I think they just saw him as a brother instead of, “Oh, my brother's black. What does this mean?” You know?
Dr. Joy: Yeah, yeah. It definitely feels like we are kind of... I mean, I think that story did a lot both for Randall as a character, but also for us as viewers, in that it did provide some additional context. Because you're right, I feel like they have just kind of seen him as like their brother but not understanding like what it means to actually be a whole black man in the world.
Beverley: So seeing them having like a reckoning day, because that scene with him and Kate, I can’t remember what episode it was. And, you know, she was all in full tears and he's like, I know you feel this way but I feel my way and I need to prioritize me. Or when Kevin called him and he was like this is not a good time, I’ve got to prioritize me. Randall has never done that. He literally always does for everybody else. And I really liked the fact that he was enforcing those boundaries, even though I do feel like it was out of survival at that point. But I think moving forward, it's going to be different in terms of how he prioritizes himself and his family and still holds space for his siblings.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, yeah, you're right. So I'm excited to stay tuned to see kind of where they go. Like I said, I'm sure a lot of the focus now will be on whatever happens with Kevin and his car accident and I think he was rushing because his fiancé was in labor.
Beverley: And he already felt guilty because they did that flashback. Randall told him not to leave and he still left, like, oh, we're gonna be okay. So I think some of those sam feelings contributed to his feelings of not wanting to leave Madison and so I think... I can't wait. I'm just trying to retain the edges that I have left.
Dr. Joy: Hold on to them tight. Hold on tight. Yeah, so I'm not sure if we're getting a new episode this week. I know they had been having some issues with recording, of course due to COVID-19 stuff so we will just be staying tuned to get that new episode whenever we get it.
Beverley: I think it's supposed to be next week. Because when I had looked it up, I think the first episode on the schedule was February 9.
Dr. Joy: Ah, okay. Okay so we will just hold on, maybe watch this one another time.
Beverley: I had two weeks of disappointments. I can’t afford that.
Dr. Joy: We'll be back to get into Married at First Sight, right after this break.
Dr. Joy: So something else that we have been chatting about on the timeline is Married at First Sight. We are now in season 12 and I feel like I really was into it like the first couple of seasons and then some of those middle seasons I don't even remember. Because I did not know we were already up to 12 seasons.
Beverley: I didn’t either. I think I watched the first ever season which was with Jamie n’ Otis and the little firetruck guy... I can't remember. I watched the first season.
Dr. Joy: Okay, so you never watched any more but you’ve been watching this season?
Beverley: Oh, yes.
Dr. Joy: Yes. So I actually also got really into it last season because they were shooting in New Orleans and, you know, I’m from Louisiana so I was really into the couples there. And this season kind of came pretty quickly after that one ended so I figured I’d stay tuned. So we have... There are five couples this season–two black couples, which is typically the ones that I am most interested in.
Dr. Joy: And so it is already seeming like it’s gonna be prime for drama. So this season is shot in Atlanta so all the couples are Atlanta-based. And so, you know, we are just into, I think Episode Three of the show will be this week, I believe. We have just finished the wedding so I'm guessing we're moving into honeymoons next. And so I would just first love to hear your thoughts as a marriage and family therapist about the show and shows like this where people are paired together without ever having seen one another.
Beverley: Well, as a marriage and family therapist, I am very interested in what goes into how they pair the couples. I think it was Chris from Married at First Sight who was talking about how they did a questionnaire and it was really long.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm.
Beverley: And I said, okay, so there's obviously some type of these are your questions, let's see how your values and how you respond pairs up with another person. I think they prioritize some of those things like if they want to have kids, if they want a partner who's home all the time or not home all the time, so I do think there's a compatibility assessment that they do. In terms of features, because that's a big thing, I don't know how much of that comes into play. And I say that because I’m thinking about Jamie n’ Otis...
Dr. Joy: Doug. I think her last name is Otis.
Beverley: I'm thinking about their IG page.
Dr. Joy: Oh, yeah.
Beverley: And so how she came down the aisle and sis was crying because she was initially not attracted to him. And I think about Chris...
Dr. Joy: From this season.
Beverley: From this season, and how he was like, oh, he's not attracted to Paige. So I'm just like, I wonder how much of the aesthetics holds a weight in this compatibility. So I think when it comes to Vincent and Briana, you sense off the top a compatibility.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, mm hmm.
Beverley: Who is it? Erik and Virginia, they seem like opposites. The pilot and then the one who...
Dr. Joy: Right.
Beverley: So I'm just like, are they placing the couples together? Like, okay, we want them to win or we want them because they're gonna have drama? Like, I don't understand it.
Dr. Joy: Yeah. So it doesn't feel like they have been super clear about what kinds of factors they use to match them. I mean, you know, so of course, they talk to the matchmakers. It's a panel of three or four, I think a difference between each season, but this season I think they've had three. And so they talk a little bit about like, oh, their ambitions kind of match. Or you will hear them say like, oh, they're both really interested in starting a family. So those are the things that it seems like they talk about most often.
But since attractiveness is so subjective, I don't know how they really would be able to kind of match for that. And especially when you are marrying somebody that you know nothing else about, all you're going to have is like your initial attraction. And so it seems like people just react very strongly when they are not initially attracted to their person from the beginning. And it feels like it takes a very long time, if ever, for them to recover from it.
Beverley: Right. Because I think the level of investment is tied to the aesthetics. I think that there are the values, the core values that do matter... Like, okay, do you want to have kids? Do you not want to have kids? Do you enjoy having close bonds with your in laws or not? Like, there are certain things that can make or break a relationship because people typically will not compromise on, like let's say those top three to five things. But typically, those people have seen each other and it's like, okay, well, you've passed the first test of looks, now let's see if our core values align.
Versus in this situation, you are now paired because of your values. There's potential for you all to be able to work and to have a great marriage, but if I didn't really get your dream person, the visual of your dream person right, you literally have to fight to move past that in order to allow those values to contribute to that person being attractive to you.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. Yeah. I think because under different circumstances, like typically, there may be some warming up to a person. But you have more time, whereas here you're like married from the beginning so there is no time to warm up.
Beverley: Mm hmm. So, I think about Chris's comment when he was like, “I think Paige is what I need versus what I would have wanted.” And I think that's a very important conversation because we do know that these are the things that we need in a partner. The attributes of that person that will compliment us, the type of life that we want to live, but the things that we want, are those things negotiable? If he's not six feet, are you okay with a 5'5"? If she doesn't have long hair, are you okay with a woman who has short hair? You know, how much weight do people put on the wants versus the needs? And I wonder if the relationship coaches and all of those folks who put them together, if they put more weight on “this is what this person needs in order to do great in a marriage.”
Dr. Joy: Yeah. And I do think that there's something to that because we know that there are definitely things beyond just attraction that really make a relationship successful.
Beverley: Mm hmm.
Dr. Joy: But it feels like jumping to the marriage piece is where they get like really caught up. Like, I wonder if the experiment was, we've played matchmaker and this is somebody we think would be a really good match for you and you maybe just have to live with them for a couple of months. As opposed to like then having to divorce them. Now, of course, that probably is less dramatic for TV, but I feel like that would be a far better kind of an experiment than them getting married immediately.
Beverley: Well, I think about love is blind *[inaudible 0:41:10] all day, all day. Because they were able to, you know, build an attraction to each other without seeing each other, with the thought of, okay, this is going to lead to marriage. So I think there was like a little bit of a buffer knowing that they had a way out, versus you are not married and for whatever time period, you literally are committed to this person in every legal way possible. And I think that, yes, they do realize that at the end of it all, I can make a decision to either be divorced or to be married but you really have to have a conversation with yourself.
Like, if these experts are the ones who said this person was my best fit and I don't agree with that, then what does that mean for me? Where do I place my values? What is it that's really important for me? Maybe I'm really not ready to be married, maybe I'm really not looking for what I wrote down on this paper. You have yourself and your family on nationwide TV and insist that you're inviting people into your personal life, I would think it's because you really are serious about being married. Like this process, I think is like what, a year long. You have to do a psych eval, you have to do all of these things. So I would think that the people on the show are invested and to seeing if something worthwhile will come out of this. I don't know, maybe the being married really quickly is for shock factor. Or maybe it's to remove the option of choice from the onset. Like, well, this is your person.
Dr. Joy: Right. Like you said, I think you make some good points. Like if you're saying you really want to be married and these people have expertise in the kinds of things that keep couples together and they've given you somebody who they think you have a good shot with... You're right, like maybe you do need to reexamine whether you're even really ready for the commitment or whether what you're saying you want is what you really want.
Beverley: Right. Because obviously something wasn't working before which is why you weren't married yet.
Dr. Joy: Right.
Beverley: You noted that there was an issue. I think, who was it, Erik? Who said that he was divorced and he was like, you know, I'm divorced and I really want something that's long term. Because his relationship didn't work out because he's a pilot and his previous partner wasn't down for the cause. So hopefully with Virginia she won't have an issue with that, based off of what she reported in her answers.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. So when you think about the fact that we have had 12 seasons of the show now, I don't know exactly what the number is in terms of like the couples that are still together, but I know that more of them are now apart than are together. So I wonder if you have some thoughts on what makes the difference for the ones who stay together versus the ones who go their separate ways.
Beverley: I would be more interested in knowing for those who didn't stay together, do they have significant platforms, if that makes sense. Do they have like a huge following? Like, how have they used being on the show to their advantage versus those who haven't? And I only wonder about that because of investment level, like I was saying before. Am I on this show to really see if I can get a partner that I can spend the rest of my life with or do I have other motivations for being on this show?
Dr. Joy: Right, that’s a good point. Yeah, I mean, it's very clear, I think sometimes, that people get on shows like this because they have wishes to kind of be a star or something.
Beverley: Right. I also just think about if... For this show, if I'm one of the experts, they can call me if they need some help, too. I am more than willing. But if I'm on the show and I'm looking at the data of how many couples have stayed together versus not stay together, have we changed up the strategy to increase the success rate? I do understand you have to factor in the human variable. Humans have their own free will and choice, but what went into the choice to not stay together? What did we miss? And how have we changed our strategies in order to increase the likelihood that these couples that we pair together will actually stay together? You know?
Dr. Joy: Right. Yeah, and speaking of that, I feel like if I had seen Chris's application, I might have flagged him like, uh, is he really committed to this? Because if I'm not mistaken, he was actually engaged the same year that this happened. This was last year, I believe, and we're watching it now but it happened in 2020.
Beverley: Right, that's what I don't understand. Because if the process is really that long but he was engaged to be married at the top of 2020, does that mean he had already started the application process? Like the timeline...
Dr. Joy: Something is not adding up.
Beverley: You know...
Dr. Joy: Something is looking a little suspicious.
Beverley: It just doesn't make sense to me. Like, you need about a year to do this process so, you know, I don't know. But I just think about people who talk about okay, well, he was engaged at the top of the year and now he's on this show months later, was he really ready? And so I'm like, well, some folks are ready to be married, that doesn’t mean they're ready to be married to that specific person. They want marriage, they have an idea what marriage looks like. He talks a lot about family legacy, that's really important to him. He’s like, my last name is a brand. And so that's one of his values and so it doesn't matter who you have that legacy with at this point if that's what you're prioritizing.
But if you're prioritizing a fruitful partnership, one that's of love, commitment, you want to build with that person, I want to be with you whether or not you're able to have children. I'm not trying to be with you just for the purpose of having kids but for you, the person that you are–the investment looks different versus someone who's looking to satisfy their personal needs.
Dr. Joy: Very good points, yes. So I think already it's looking like there's gonna be lots to talk about related to him and Paige this season. I mean, I think that there will be some with all of them but it's already looking like there's gonna be a lot of energy related to his relationship with Paige.
Beverley: Right. And you can tell based off of this show what couples are looking like they're rooting for. The interesting part of the wedding episodes was when the family was giving advice and giving descriptors. And I'm thinking, okay, obviously, in laws play a really huge factor in the success of a relationship. It's really hard to be married to someone whose family either doesn't like you or who has strong opinions of what your role should be and whether or not you're meeting the expectations of that role.
I think the next episode, they're gonna tell us a little bit more about the families and all of that but I keep going back to Chris and Paige because I don't think his parents are together but when they were giving advice, it seems like his mom gave more advice about, hey, I know he said he wants to have kids, but it's okay to slow down and not need to feel rushed. And his dad was more: “This is my son, these are his sexual needs, these are the things that he's going to want in order to be satisfied, so just know that that is your job.”
Dr. Joy: Yes. Too much, just too much.
Beverley: It was very, very... As compared to Vincent and Briana, you had, “she has great girlfriends, FYI, she has great girlfriends.” But the type of conversation, it was more so of getting to know each other, getting to know what are your likes, dislikes, what are your wants? And because your friends compete a lot from your potential partner and Paige's friends definitely saw some things that were red flags as compared to Briana’s friends who were like, okay, I'm getting good vibes from him, I'm noticing he's saying certain things that highlight us and we versus I and I and I, you know. So it will be interesting how that plays out.
Dr. Joy: I would love to hear any advice you might have, Beverley, for... Let's say there's somebody listening who finds themselves on season 14 of Married at First Sight, what advice might you give to a couple who finds themselves in that situation?
Beverley: My first thing would be communicating your needs to your partner. Because essentially, that person is a stranger to you and so they're not going to really know your quirks or your unspoken desires. So as you're learning each other, you're gonna have to be just very overt with your needs. Like, hey, this is bothering me, I would appreciate it if you would stop. Or if you want to talk about sexual needs, hey, I really enjoy when you do this, I would like for you to do more of this. Because you want to be able to study each other.
And also have patience with studying each other because being in a marriage is a lifelong study of the person. Because people evolve and so who you met on day one is not going to be the same person that you're still married to, hopefully, five, 10, 15, 50 years down the line. Always have that curiosity about who you are in partnership with. And I think if you have that curiosity and you're consistently interested in them, I think that would help with the investment of the relationship. Because no one wants to feel like, okay, well, do you not care about learning the things that I like or engaging with me? I think that's a big factor.
Dr. Joy: Yes. And I'd love to hear if you have any ideas for people who might consider signing up for a show like this. Like, what kinds of things do you think you need to think about for yourself before you sign up for a show like Married at First Sight?
Beverley: Okay, so I would definitely want folks to think about, are there any areas of my life that I am unhealed from that could possibly be a detriment to the relationship? We all carry baggage but there's different baggage that's heavier than others. And if you have some serious stuff that you haven't taken the time out to prioritize, it's gonna be very difficult to prioritize that while prioritizing somebody else in a relationship. So be sure to have a conversation with self about, okay, do I need to do some personal work?
Also to reflect on what would be my motivation for going on this show? Do I really want to be married? How much am I willing to make this work? Am I willing to be open and vulnerable on TV where millions of people can see me. Because I don't know if it's a factor for some of the couples that are on the show now, but I can imagine if you have an issue with communicating to your partner and being vulnerable, there's no way you're going to be motivated to do so on national TV. So just being honest with yourself and what you're willing to do in order to find and keep love, and if that is actually helpful or hurtful for you.
Dr. Joy: I think I would add to that to really be honest with yourself about what your reaction might be if you are matched with somebody who you don't find yourself physically attracted to. Like you know that that's a very real possibility of a situation like this and so if you feel like, oh, just that would be like the worst thing that could happen, then this might not be the kind of experiment that you want to sign up for.
Beverley: Exactly. Because you have to be married to them and you have to look at them so if you have certain non-negotiables, then I would suggest that you don't even put yourself in that situation. But if you're open and you're flexible, if the person has all their teeth and the necessities are there, love and attraction can grow. But if there's certain things that you know it’s just I'm not willing to compromise, then you can't leave that up to chance because you won't even give the relationship a fair shot because you have your non-negotiables.
Dr. Joy: Right. Very, very good points. Well, we will be staying tuned so if y'all want to live tweet with us on Wednesdays, you can find us over on Twitter. Beverley, please tell people where they can find you if they'd like to learn more about you and your work.
Beverley: You guys can find me at @YourFavoriteMFT on all social platforms. I think that if you engage with me, I will engage with you back. Especially when it comes to This Is Us and Married at First Sight, I love to have a good conversation. And you can also check out my website BeHeartCounseling.com. If you're interested in clinical services, if you live in Florida, New York or New Jersey.
Dr. Joy: Perfect. Well, we will definitely include all of that in the show notes. And thank you so much for joining us today, Beverley, to chat about some of our favorite TV.
Beverley: Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to see how the season rolls out.
Dr. Joy: Me too.
I'm so glad Beverley was able to join us for today's conversation. To learn more about her and her work, visit the show notes at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/session193. And please text two sisters right now and tell them to check out this episode. Don't forget that if you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/
directory. If you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Yellow Couch Collective. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/YCC. Thank y'all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all, real soon. Take good care.