INTERVIEW: Atlanta pastor Calvin Roberson still believes in ‘Married at First Sight’ after eight seasons

Pastor Calvin Roberson has been a long-time advisor on LIfetime's "Married at First Sight." LIFETIME
Pastor Calvin Roberson has been a long-time advisor on LIfetime's "Married at First Sight." LIFETIME

Credit: Lifetime

Credit: Lifetime

Season 12 began this month with five Atlanta couples

Dating apps have made it far easier to meet new people. But the embarrassment of riches also means having to sift through a lot of flotsam. And the endless choices also causes some people to just walk away and others to keep seeking someone more exciting, more “compatible.”

This may be why Lifetime is on season 12 of its show “Married at First Sight,” which debuted this month. The experts on the show paired up 10 single Atlantans, who first meet their future spouse at the altar. They are given two weeks’ notice until the wedding once they are matched.

The success rate of the show is around 30%, so far, which on the surface isn’t all that great but is far better than, say, “The Bachelor.”

Roswell resident and pastor Calvin Roberson is one of the experts featured since season 4. He provides advice for the couples as they adjust to life together. He joined the reality show without realizing how fulfilling the job would be.

“What keeps me around are the success stories,” said Roberson, who holds marriage conferences with his wife Wendy. “Marriage and relationships are what I do. I don’t just play a relationships expert on TV. There are now couples with families. There are babies that have come out of this! There are serious relationships still surviving and working through things. This is a great avenue to just create happy families.”

The couples this seasons are in their 20s and 30s and are all white-collar professionals e.g. a pilot, an accountant, a finance manager, an engineer. They are all tired of the traditional paths to meeting their spouse and are handing over the decision-making to the show. The appeal is real.

“We’ve had more than 70,000 people apply over the years,” Roberson said. “It’s mind-blowing. People want to get beyond the dating crap. People feel disposable.”

Roberson said the experts have to match people who have both compatibilities and complementary traits.

The ones that work out best, he said, are those who are most emotionally open and mature. “People have to have the ability to change,” Roberson said. “That flexibility. Change does not have to be scary. Saying you can’t change me, that you have to accept me as I am is not something we say in any other arena.”

He added: “You change for people. I’ve changed so much for my wife. She’s changed for me. That’s how people get along. We change for each other. Once you get beyond that barrier, you’re not losing your independence. You’re gaining emotional freedom to be not only who you are but fulfill another person’s legitimate need. That’s a beautiful place to be. That’s what we try to achieve.”

Roberson said the season was shot during the pandemic, but there were no masks worn episode one — except for an employee or two at a bridal shop. These shows are meant to be evergreen. Nobody watching this in 2023 probably wants to be reminded of the virus.

“It’s a slower process” with COVID-19 protocols, Roberson said. “But we still get the job done.”

He does miss the physical contact, which is part of being a human being.

“I’m a hugger,” he said. “We’ve adapted to air hugs.”

Roberson thinks this season is filled with individuals who really want these marriages to work.

“I think we did a great job weeding out people who just want to be on TV,” he said. “But there will be lots of twists and turns, a lot of drama.”

The core of the show’s appeal is simple, he said. “People still believe in love. People want it. Marriage has not gone out of style. This is simply a new take on arranged marriage. People are sick of just swiping right.”

WHERE TO WATCH

“Married at First Sight,” 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Lifetime

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