Married At First Sight is welcoming its first same-sex couple, thanks to New Zealand

Craig and Andy are Married At First Sight's first same-sex couple thanks to little ol' New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
Craig and Andy are Married At First Sight's first same-sex couple thanks to little ol' New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

The new season of Married At First Sight begins tonight, ushering in a new era for the reality dating show by sending its first same-sex couple down the aisle.

It's a move which has seen the couple - Craig and Andy - cop a lot of flack from the gay community which says they're trivialising the movement for marriage equality.

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But Married At First Sight psychologist John Aiken says they were actually aiming to progress that conversation.

"We were very excited to bring on our first same sex couple. It's a show that's done all around the world and I don't think anyone else has done that," says Aiken.

"In Australia [same-sex marriage] is not something that's been legalised whereas in New Zealand it's very progressive and that's why we brought them there - to essentially get people talking about it and I think the show certainly brings that to the forefront."

Aiken - along with Mel Schilling and Dr Trisha Stratford - matches the couples from thousands of hopefuls looking for love.

He calls the show an "experiment", one in which they test personality and temperament, match people based on how their personalities complement - rather than reflect - each other, and then step back and watch the fireworks.

Married At First Sight's panel of experts: John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Dr Trisha Stratford. Photo / Supplied
Married At First Sight's panel of experts: John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Dr Trisha Stratford. Photo / Supplied

He says matching Craig and Andy was the easy bit, but "like all the other couples, they're full of surprises".

"When it starts it's just four weeks of ... sitting back and watching what happens, we don't know how it's going to turn out. We're available if we're required to come in at any time, but we want them to be a couple without being over-coached, or without the psychologists heavily guiding them," says Aiken.

They're in a high-stress environment in which they're getting to know their new spouse, comparing themselves to the other couples, dealing with the scrutiny of the public, and doing it all on camera.

So naturally, things are bound to "go off the rails".

Michael is the only Kiwi walking down the MAFS aisle. Photo / Supplied
Michael is the only Kiwi walking down the MAFS aisle. Photo / Supplied

"From each series we've had one couple that gets over the line and lasts, which means three don't make it. The aspect about the show that's real is that relationships do break up.

"I think the show works because people invest in the couples and the things that they deal with, and the challenges along the way, we all deal with in our own relationships.

"But what we usually do in a year and a half, they're doing in four weeks. It's dramatically harder than a normal relationship and you never can tell how they're going to cope."

Married At First Sight airs Thursdays at 8.30pm on TV3, with the first two of five marriages taking place tonight.

- NZ Herald

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