Self-awareness. You don’t have to have it but it certainly makes life a lot easier when you do. For instance, I know that I have a bit of anxiety when it comes to engaging with new people, strangers. I don’t trust easily. I question people’s motives and intentions for a while and I revel in meaningful conversations. And for the most part, it’s hard to have those with people you’ve just met. So no, strangers aren’t my favorite. I know that about myself. I accept it.
I see that same quality in one of the men chosen to participate in Lifetime’s experimental reality show, “Married At First Sight,” Jephte Pierre.
Jephte, a 26-year-old second-grade teacher with Haitian roots, is married to Shawniece, 29. From the very first moment they got together, it was clear that Shawniece was the extrovert. She was laughing and joking, talked about masturbation, gave him a lap dance in front of his mama, sis is a lot. With my resistance to strangers, she would have been a lot to me. And she certainly was a lot for Jephte. And he said as much. From their first night together and what looks like every day since Jephte has reminded her that she is a stranger to him.
The night the episode of their wedding aired, I saw someone tweet something, telling Jephte he should, “run.” I thought, “No! It will be good to have Shawniece help bring him out of his shell.”
And during last night’s episode where we watched Jephte and Shawniece on their honeymoon, there were moments when it seemed like it would work. When the two were climbing Dunns River Falls, Jephte was extremely cautious. But he wasn’t going to leave Shawniece out there alone. The two successfully climbed the falls and when they reached the top, they seemed close to one another. He was grabbing her up, they shared their first kiss. It was adorable.
But later in the honeymoon, when Shawniece and Jephte met up with the other couples to go paddle boarding, things took a turn for the worse.
Perhaps this was too many new people at one time. Because from what we saw, Jephte became even more reserved. When one of the other couples asked each other about their personalities, Shawniece said that she was more extroverted and bubbly than her new husband. Jephte’s response left everyone feeling awkward.
“That’s true. I’m not bubbly. I won’t be pressured into doing anything that I really don’t want to do.”
When they went out to paddle board, Shawniece slipped and cut her foot. Instead of helping her, checking to see if she was ok, Jephte kept reminding her that he told her not to get in the water…as they were paddle boarding…in the middle of the ocean.
Jephte: “Yup she got a cut. She went to jump in the water and stepped on something after I told her not to get in the water.”
When Shawniece asked Jephte if he wanted to help her remove whatever was lodged in her foot, he said no. Then persisted.
Jephte: “Remember who said don’t go in the water.”
Shawniece: “Oh, so your problem is because you told me not to get in the water.”
Jephte: “Natural consequences. From now on are you going to listen to me?”
Let’s put a pin in things here, shall we?
Since Jephte is hellbent on reminding Shawniece that they don’t know each other why should she feel comfortable listening to him and his advice when she doesn’t know if it’s coming from a sound mind? We’ll come back to this later.
At the end of the paddle boarding day, Jephte was carrying Shawniece, the two were laughing, it seemed like they’d moved on.
Later that evening, the experts gave the couples “homework,” basically a series of questions meant to make them open up and grow closer to one another.
During the exercise, Jephte reminded Shawniece again that they were strangers. Likely tired of him stating the obvious, she reminded him that they are married. He asked her what they meant. He got tight and dismissed her concerns, “Alright, whatever.”
In the confessional, Jephte said he felt like Shawniece was pressuring him to move faster than he wanted to.
The two talked about friendship. Shawniece said that since they’re already married, the friendship is secondary. Jephte felt they should be friends who grow into their title of husband and wife.
Later, Shawniece sarcastically said, “I don’t know you.” Jephte thought she was serious and offered to high five her, like she finally grasped a concept. Shawniece jokingly threatened to flick him off.
Then she said, “I’m not going to keep telling my husband that I don’t know him. I’m getting to know you.”
Jephte: “But you don’t know me.”
Shawniece: “There are things that I know about you.” Then she said, “So you want to high five now?”
Jephte: “Nah don’t touch me. Chill out. You just got me mad.”
Shawniece ended up on the balcony crying.
When Jephte came out to speak to her she said, “What the f*ck am I supposed to do about it?”
He responded, “You can stop cursing. I didn’t curse at you.”
Now, I don’t like to cuss when I’m arguing either. And I don’t want anyone to cuss at me. It just makes a bad situation worse. But I also know I wouldn’t take kindly to a stranger, a man who, by his own admission, doesn’t know me, telling me to watch my mouth. That’s not your place.
Later, he said this doesn’t mean we just jump into something.
Shawniece: “Jump into something?! We got married.”
Jephte: “That means we rush everything because we got married?”
No, it means you stop acting like you don’t want to get to know your stranger-wife because you chose this life.
During his confessional interview, Jephte told the camera crew and producers he can’t understand why repeatedly calling his wife a stranger upsets her so much.
Probably because calling her a stranger, after you’ve known her for five days and married her on the first is counterproductive to building a relationship with someone.
Jephte said that he’s closed off, that it takes him a while to warm up to people, that he’s had problems in his past relationships. And the way things stand right now, it looks as if he’s sticking to the rivers and lakes that he’s used to.
What I can’t figure out is WHY he signed up for the show when the whole concept involves something he admittedly struggles with, strangers, new people. And unlike in your single life, you can’t just walk away from this person. He’ll have to live with Shawniece for weeks. They’re married. Even if he does leave before the eight weeks, the two will have to legally divorce.
It’s going to be a long road with these two. And while I know the success rate of the couples on this show is a hot mess, (The last I counted 3/18 couples are together.) it’s just too good to turn away.
What do you think of Jephte and Shawniece?