Friday Reflection – Married at First Sight Australia

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So I have just completed watching the latest series of MAFS or Married At First Sight Australia. This is not my usual watching, but it did become part of my wife and I’s routine over the last few months, which I am now glad is over! For those of you in the know and if you are not up to date yet then please be reassured there are no spoilers in here but for those not in the know MAFS matches strangers who meet for the first time at the altar and then follow their first few months together as they attempt to forge lasting and loving partnerships. These efforts are often derailed by the challenges posed by the other couples, the tasks set by the experts who matched them and the intensity of being followed by a film crew.

The programme has been a huge hit – we watch, second guessing who may end up happy together, gunning for some to find love and others to see light and leave, we watch toxic relationships unravel and we observe the whole spectrum of human of emotion as each couple experiences their own rollercoaster of a journey.

What I found fascinating is that given the intensity and heightened emotion of the environment it so plan to see how team dynamics play out. You could apply any model of communication or teamwork and watch it play out. As I was watching the series I kept thinking of Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

The foundation of his pyramid of dysfunctions is Trust. Clearly, the couples who didn’t trust each other, either because of some perceived betrayal or because at least one of them didn’t show enough vulnerability were doomed. It was also interesting how easily other couples were able to undermine the trust in other relationships. The show demonstrated how crucial trust is, but also how fragile and temporary it can be.  

Lencioni’s next dysfunction is the Fear of Conflict. The couples that couldn’t engage in constructive debate, that avoided conflict or operated under an artificial or false harmony failed to achieve any meaningful resolution, so struggled to communicate.

The third dysfunction is around a Lack of Commitment. I guess it goes without saying in relationships but in connections where there is no commitment or even a mismatch in the levels of commitment there is vagueness, a lack of clarity and no shared vision to aim for.

Fourth is the Avoidance of Accountability. Where responsibility is shunned, blame is often doled out freely and it is always the other person’s fault – this lack of compassion and empathy was so frustrating and clear to see at times on the show.

Finally, we have the Lack of Results. Without trust, without healthy conflict, without commitment – to stand by each other to work through issues, without responsibility for your own actions you make life harder for yourself and those around you. The couples that got this give themselves a chance – the ones that didn’t fall by the wayside quickly in every case I found it easy to pinpoint where.  Who thought watching Married at First Sight would get me reflecting on different teams I had worked in and why some hadn’t functioned as well as others?