Can love be broken down into scientific laws of compatibility? Married at First Sight, a groundbreaking new series on Channel 4, explores exactly that. An initial pool of over 1500 applicants – all single, previously unmarried, without children, living within the M25 area and seeking long-term love – have been carefully assessed and matched by a panel of experts in the fields of psychology, social & evolutionary anthropology and theology.
Once matched by the experts the theoretically ‘highly compatible’ couples will prepare to enter into a legally-binding marriage with a complete stranger – meeting for the very first time at their own wedding where they’ll declare ‘I do’. For those that do decide to become legally wed, the cameras will follow the couples during the first tentative weeks of their relationship as they share their honeymoon and then their daily lives with a complete stranger.
The show has already been aired in the US, Australia and Denmark with mixed success – some couples remain together after a year of marriage while others opted for divorce after just six weeks.
Couple relationship psychologist and Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, Dr Max Blumberg tells w&h why it is a good idea to ask your potential partner these ten questions.
‘It’s an age-old story. When you first start dating someone, you are physically attracted to them, and to their personality. Then, a few months down the line, you find that they’re not quite right – their attitude doesn’t work for you, or their religious beliefs or personal values become a problem.
Undergoing these kinds of psychological personality tests eliminates this from happening. Instead, you know straight away what you’ll disagree on. In some ways, that’s a positive thing. But there is something to be said for getting to know someone and learning about them, slowly. Perhaps by the time you find out something about them you don’t like, you will be willing to compromise because you have strong enough feelings for them.’
Here are ten questions you should always ask a potential partner to ensure compatibility and increase the chances of happiness. Dr Max Blumberg explains that these questions are deliberately open and urges the interviewer to gauge their partner’s non-verbal responses, as well as their verbal answers. Why? Because, he says,’ If your partner is struggling to answer them, they could be being dishonest or they might never given thought to something that is really important to you.’
1. What has been your longest relationship and why do you think it worked?
‘Most of us hide our blemishes for the first six months of a relationship, it would be abnormal not to. It’s only in long-term relationships that those negative aspects appear. Is your partner able to stick at a relationship, even after they’ve found the blemishes? Or will they run as soon as they spot the negatives?’
2. What are the qualities of your ideal relationship?
‘This is important to find out whether you are compatible. What kinds of things do you they enjoy doing? Do they like spending a lot of time with their partner or do they like space?’
3. Do you have any deal breakers for relationships and if so, what are they?
‘This question could reveal something negative and it could be something that, if you found out later down the line after you have developed stronger feelings, you might be willing to compromise on.’
4. In an ideal intimate relationship, how often would you have sex?
‘In 2015, sex is more important in relationships. It used to be during the 80s and 90s that men would be more socially active and earn more, and women would fit around them. Now, women are just as career driven and earn just as much money so are also looking for sexual satisfaction.’
5. How important is marriage and children and do you have a personal timeline set?
‘This is critical if the person is traditional and particularly for females who want to have children.’
6. What are your short term and long-term goals?
‘This will expose how ambitious your partner is.’
7. How would you like for your life to change in the next five years?
‘A relationship should be part of both your personal development. If your partner is very static, there is a risk of boredom, it’s important to know they think about change and self-improvement.’
8. What does financial stability mean to you?
‘Research shows that couples living without money are unhappy – they can’t sleep properly and worry about debt. It’s important to know that your partner would share concerns and responsibility for your financial stability.’
9. What do you like to do for fun/what are your hobbies and interests?
‘Many of us think that common interests are really important but research shows that it is actually only of medium importance because if you like each other enough, you find things to do together.’
10. What would you consider your greatest accomplishment in life?
‘Someone’s greatest accomplishment tells you so much about that person and what they value most. If it is a bungee jump, for instance, you will know they are a thrill seeker, active and adventurous,’ says Dr Blumberg.
Married At First Sight starts on Channel 4 on Thursday 9th July