From the day of the wedding between Chris and Paige on this season of “Married at First Sight,” viewers agreed that there was one person who’d already spotted the jig. It was Paige’s friend and bridesmaid, Nancy Jo. Nancy, a mental health advocate and director of Macon Head Space, could see from Chris’ comments about Paige that their union wouldn’t work. Now, Nancy says that she wishes she would have made her opinions known earlier.
We had the chance to speak with Nancy about the trauma Paige has endured, her thoughts on “he who shall not be named” as she calls him, and the importance of sound mental health for both parties in healthy relationships.
See what she had to say below.
MadameNoire: How did you feel when Paige told you that she was even considering getting married at first sight? Did you support the idea?
Nancy Jo: At the time, yeah. I thought it was a great idea. I was very supportive of her. It wasn’t something that I would do myself but my friend is a very accomplished woman and she’s the kind of person that sets a goal and completes it. So this was something that I knew she wanted and I just wanted to be supportive.
MadameNoire: Why do you think marriage was so important to Paige?
Nancy: I think, like she said on the show, she wanted to break those generational curses. She really wanted to be in a loving relationship. She watched the show previously. Woody and Amani had been very successful and other couples that she knew of had been successful. She believed that the process would work for her as well.
MadameNoire: During the reception, Chris came out the gate saying some wild stuff. What was your internal dialogue? What decisions did you have to make in terms of what you were going to say?
Nancy: As soon as he said she’s not my type, I literally started choking my wine glass because I don’t know what to think at this point. I was going through a million thoughts in my head. I don’t want to embarrass my friend. Is this really happening? This is not what I expected. Then when he made the trophy wife comment, I said, ‘She’s definitely a trophy wife.’ I wish that I hadn’t bit my tongue and lashed out at him more then. But I wasn’t seeing it the way the viewers were seeing it.
He tried to clean it up and say that trophy wives were pretty girls that wanted you to pay for everything. I was still feeling shocked and had a negative opinion but I still bit my tongue.
MadameNoire: During the course of the marriage, what were you hearing from Paige? Were you privy to everything that was going on?
Nancy: I saw a lot of things when the viewers saw it, when the show aired. She and I were still in communication but of course, hearing some of the things that are happening is different than seeing it happen to a person.
Even at the wedding, I was literally in the room and I didn’t realize that his father said that stuff about her at the table. I didn’t hear that stuff until I was watching the show.
MadameNoire: At what point did you feel like this marriage wasn’t going to work?
Nancy: Oh! At the wedding. I had a negative opinion but I wasn’t like, ‘Girl, run.’ Like I wish I would have said. The next day after I speak to my friend after the wedding night, (Editor’s Note: Where Paige and Chris consummated their marriage and then he later told her he didn’t find her attractive.) is when I was completely through. I said my piece to “he who shall not be named” and his family.
At that point, I wanted to be supportive and give my advice but I’m not there filming. I’m not in Vegas when they go on this honeymoon. I’m hearing things afterward. I don’t know how to respond.
I did get into a back and forth with him on social media because I did feel the desire to defend my friend. And he was saying nasty things about me, commenting about my weight and things like that. I just realized I was being childish as well, trying to address things that way.
MadameNoire: Based on Chris’ behavior on the show, do you think he has some type of mental health issue?
Nancy: I can’t diagnose him. But I can say that the behavior we witnessed shows that there needs to be a conversation about mental health in the Black community and how to leave traumatic situations, how to properly speak on them to your friends and loved ones and just healthy relationships.
MadameNoire: What are the types of conversations you hope this show inspires in terms of mental health?
Nancy: I really think that people need to discuss serious relationship red flags and how to spot them. When people are lovebombing and having anger issues or insincere apologies, when they isolate you from friends and family, just manipulating or gaslighting you. These aren’t the words that are in people’s everyday vocabulary. But if they did have them, they would do better in recognizing healthy relationships.
I also think it’s important to recognize green flags too. Nobody tells you what to look forward to in a healthy relationships, with healthy communication. There are organizations out there like One Love or The Hotline that are dedicated to helping people have healthy relationships or get out of them.
MadameNoire: During the reunion, Kevin asked you if Paige was okay. And you said she’s not. What are some of the changes have you noticed in her coming out of this process?
Nancy: I knew that my friend felt very hurt and devastated watching the clip where he pretty much calls her the ugliest woman in Atlanta. Being that that was the first time she was seeing something like that, she was devastated. And having to fight through that and keep a straight face, I saw how hurt she truly was and the pain behind her eyes.
I think she has gotten stronger and learned to make stronger decisions. She’s learned a lot more than most because some of us just go through points in our lives where we may have wanted to do things differently but we don’t get to watch it back. And she got that opportunity. So it’s helping to grow and stretch her. So I’m hoping in the future, she will gravitate toward relationships where she feels respected and she’s laughing and smiling a lot more, like she was in the beginning. You can literally see in the season, she had a beautiful smile in the beginning. And as she’s going though the episodes, she’s not smiling and isn’t as happy. I just want to see her happy and bubbly again.
MadameNoire: What types of conversations would you like to see happen as a result of Paige’s experience on the show?
Nancy: It’s just about creating this space where people feel comfortable being proactive and leaving and not being shamed or called stupid so that they can have that safety or comfort of knowing that there’s support. There’s an opportunity to create a space where people can feel like they can leave or they would never get in those situations to start.
MadameNoire: There were people who said Paige was weak for continuing to give Chris chances? What do you make of that assessment?
Nancy: Like she said in the reunion, she is not a weak minded woman at all. There are points where people see poor decisions being made but that is not a total reflection of her entire character. I’m pretty sure, if she chooses to speak out more, she can give more insight into why she made the decisions that she did but I definitely don’t think she’s a weak person.
I think she trusted the process way too much and trusted other people’s vetting. But I did as well until he said what he said at the wedding. And then I thought, ‘Is this the person they picked, for real?’ It must be something I don’t know or can’t see.
MadameNoire: You said people felt you could have done more for Paige? Do you agree with that and what would you have done?
Nancy: I wish I would have told him off at the wedding reception. I wish I had used my voice more then. But I gave the benefit of the doubt when I shouldn’t.
I don’t think I could have changed anything that I did throughout the eight weeks. The only way I could have changed anything was if I had seen what people saw when watching the episodes. But not knowing exactly what’s going on day-to-day.
I wish I had lived a bit closer or maybe had visited more. I didn’t realize how it was being in the apartment. (Editor’s Note: The apartment is the one Chris and Paige were supposed to share during their eight-week marriage. He never moved in.)
MadameNoire: If you had a chance to speak to Chris again, what would you say to him, if anything?
Nancy: Oh no! I hope I never speak to him again. There’s nothing more to say than what I said. I thank him for being the epitome of why Black mental health matters.