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Deonna and Greg

Source: Daniel Dorsa / Daniel Dorsa

Just when you thought you were going to have to wait a while for any new Married at First Sight episodes after the conclusion of Season 10, if you’re a fan, you’ll be glad to know that a spin-off series will premiere on Wednesday May 20 on Lifetime called Married at First Sight: Couples’ Cam. The self-shot series will follow the couples from previous seasons who have stayed together, with viewers getting to tune into the highs and lows of their marriage and how they’re adjusting to happily ever after, including in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic.

One of the couples who will be featured and followed out of eight, is Greg Okotie and Deonna McNeil from Season 9 in Charlotte. The pair, now married a year, were absolutely interested when they heard about the concept for the spin-off series.

“This is another opportunity for us to reach out to people and let them see who we are,” Deonna said. “Reach out to people and let them see who we are and what we’re doing. We just got really good feedback from the Married at First Sight experience of us just being real people and we figured this would be fun.”

So what happened in the year they spent away from cameras? Aside from melding their lives and starting a T-shirt line called Akpesiri, the couple said they were focused on cultivating their union and falling in love.

“I would definitely say this year in total has just been a whirlwind,” she said. “It’s been a lot of learning, a lot of fun, and we’re still getting to know each other. We finally experienced all four seasons of being married, so Gregg got to see me in wintertime and summer.”

“Believe it or not, it’s a big difference. Trust me,” Gregg jokingly replied. “That’s a whole different person.”

They’ve had fun, but they’ve also, like every couple, had conflict from time to time. Couple’s counseling is still a must for the two, as well as utilizing what they learned from the experts during their time on MAFS.

“In a way we still use the experts,” he said. “We use the tools that they gave us. One of my favorite things is naked moments. It’s not what you think [laughs]. Pastor Cal mentioned if you have something on your chest that you want to talk to your partner about, stop everything and have a naked moment with your spouse. Just say, hey, when you did this you made me feel like this. The person who is listening shuts everything off and listens and tries to understand the other person. Even if you don’t agree, you try to find a way to understand them.”

Those tools have helped them to foster great communication. They both have moved on from putting up their guards and preparing for a fight, as they might have handled things before they learned a more proper means. This was especially the case for Deonna, who was admittedly having trouble during Season 9 letting her walls down after 10 years of being single.

“I would definitely say that that wall is completely down,” she said. “In the beginning it was more of people understanding and me understanding that yes, this is a stranger and I did just meet him, but I’ve got to get to know who this person is and trust him to slowly bring those walls down. Now that we’ve been married a little over a year now, there are no walls. He can see and he’ll ask me what’s going on before I even realize that something is wrong. He’s earned his way into my heart.”

Outside of their relationship, Greg and Deonna still keep in touch with fellow show participants from their season in Charlotte. Keith has hung out with the couple and supported their T-shirt line. Deonna still communicates often with the other ladies from Season 9, including Amber, who is still trying to get Matt out of her life. If you tuned into the recent Where Are They Now? special, you know the controversial former couple argued over his refusal to sign separation papers.

“I just don’t understand. I don’t know if that’s a power struggle. That’s all I can think of,” Greg said of the drama.

“I think it’s a maturity thing,” she added. “He might be upset with, and I’m assuming, how he was portrayed on the show, so now this is the one thing he can control. I don’t know. To be honest, I was, again, still disgusted in his behavior. Not surprised.”

With that defunct relationship in mind, we asked the couple if they felt the key to success on the show was truly being the right match put together by the experts, both parties being willing and able to do the work, or both.

“You have to be honest with yourself, honest with the experts and production. They’re matching based on what you’re telling them and what you put down on paper. If you’re not being real during those times, it’s not the best match,” he said. “So it’s about taking a step back and being honest and saying, hey, do I really want to do this? Do I really want to be married and do I really want to be married at first sight? Because those are two different things.”

“If you really want to do it, then you will put in the effort, the energy, and deal with the ups and downs of filming and getting to know a person. You would put your effort into all of that,” she added. “You could be a perfect match, but if you’re not willing to put in the work to grow and to change and to work with your partner, I think that also is a major piece as well. I think it’s a combination of both of those.”

They believe both that honesty and lack of effort were what plagued the majority of couples featured in Season 10 in D.C., a season they said was “a lot” to watch. (Boy, do we agree.) They said if one party is honest and ready for marriage while the other isn’t, it’s not fair to the person they end up matched with.

“It is a disadvantage and then they look at the show like, ‘Oh this is so fake. It’s all a show.’ But it really isn’t,” he said. “It puts a bad taste in their mouth because they trusted the experts and they may feel like the experts did them wrong. But it goes back to those people who were dishonest being honest in the beginning and showing their true selves. That ultimately plays a part.”

“If you ended up with a partner who didn’t quite portray themselves the best or wasn’t completely honest, it does feel like you got shafted because you went in there wholeheartedly and honest and were hoping to get the same in return,” she added. Watching it, it was disheartening to see that. But ultimately, I really hope that everybody who was in a situation like that grows from that. I’ve already seen that with Amber. My girl is doing great, out here flourishing and living her best life. It didn’t happen immediately overnight because she went in there with the right intentions and was willing to put in the work, but unfortunately it just didn’t work out for her.”

Despite the risks, including the possibility of ending up on national television married to a habitual liar stranger, Greg and Deonna say the risk is worth the reward to sign up for Married at First Sight if you can get the chance to find your forever partner, as they are confident they were able to do. As Greg puts it, “you have nothing to lose.”

“Either you will go in and find the love of your life and your spouse, or you’ll leave with something substantial as far as greater maturity, greater insight, greater understanding, greater advice from experts and producers,” he said.

“Greg knows one of my biggest things I always say after I do anything is, ‘but did you die?’ You will not die! You are going to be okay,” Deonna added. “You will go in and learn something about yourself and your past relationships. You get the insight you needed so that you can become a better person. Why not try it out? If that is something you’re truly open and ready for, then this is a great way to go through and have the experts find the ideal person for you. I would definitely say it’s worth it.”

Married at First Sight: Couples’ Cam premieres May 20 at 8pm ET/PT on Lifetime. 

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