Sadly, about halfway through the experiment, there has already been one bridal exit from Married at First Sight.

Although rather dramatic and possibly difficult to fully comprehend, it raises the issue of conflict in intimate relationships and how to work through difficulties constructively.

One thing hugely important to establish at the outset is that conflict and disagreements are an important, if not vital, part of any relationship.

Those couples who proudly declare they never fight are not necessarily demonstrating relationship success or true harmony. It's more likely they are either avoiding conflict, or not invested enough in the relationship to bring up things that need addressing.


Conflict doesn't necessarily threaten your relationship. If dealt with constructively, disagreements can bring couples closer together and provide a deeper understanding. The key is how they handle the conflict - and having good conflict resolution skills or patterns becomes crucial.

The conflict trap we want to avoid is ending up stuck in the "fight", "flight", "freeze" zones.

The fight pattern is when we stay mad about something (even trivial), holding grudges for months or even years without ever talking through the issues properly or resolving the conflict.

The flee pattern is when we avoid important issues and sweep them under the carpet - sometimes to keep the peace or generally avoid conflict.

Last, if we've been through long periods of arguing with no resolution in sight, we can freeze emotionally and shut down. When we're in this state, we might be going through the motions of the relationship but have basically stopped caring on the inside.

Couples with solid, long-lasting and fulfilling relationships have the ability to solve problems then truly let them go. They are able to identify the real and underlying issues and work through them, without attacking their partner or trying to make them "wrong".

They don't waste time focusing on the event that created the conflict - often a red herring - but identify the underlying or core issue creating the disharmony.

For example, you might have a partner who gets upset when you are late for a date, or dinner. In this situation, it's not really about your tardiness - it's about them wanting to feel you value and respect them as a person and keep to your arrangements, as agreed. So tardiness becomes about values and respect.

Other times the conflict might have its source in triggers based on childhood patterning or experiences in other relationships.
If you had a highly critical parent, you might interpret your partner's throwaway comment about how you're stacking the dishwasher as a direct attack on your value as a person.

What's important is not to argue tirelessly about whether or not they should comment on your stacking style, or even what is the best stacking style (we all have our theories!), but to take responsibility for that sensitivity.

As adults, we need to own our feelings and hopefully, with enough self-awareness, be able to identify why we react to certain situations or stimuli the way we do.

Once we understand why we feel the way we do (and how this is related to our own psychological patterning), we create room to deal with our triggers.

Rather than just defaulting to our automated response (of being upset or offended), we can create psychological space in order to choose how we'd like to respond.

With the dishwasher situation, you could say, "You know, when you comment on my stacking style, I feel a bit upset or rattled, because I think you are being critical of me as a person like my dad was."

This lets you share how you are feeling and why, without making your partner responsible for your feelings.

And because you are not attacking them, they don't go into defensive mode and it gives them the space to really hear you, understand how you are patterned and even be supportive.

This approach is a simplified version of "non-violent communication". In moments of upset the formula intimate partners can use is to say: "When you_____, I feel_______, because _______".

This framing provides a more constructive and responsible way of communicating when people do things you don't like.

The more we communicate about why we are the way we are and our triggers and sensitivities and own our feelings, the better we can use constructive conflict resolution. It then becomes less about being "right" or "winning" and more about insight and understanding.

What we typically desire most in our relationships is to be heard, understood and loved for who we are. That's what true intimacy is about.

There's no magic spell in what makes your partner right for you. Rather, it's the capacity to communicate well, and resolve conflict constructively.

Each week, MAFS expert Dr Pani Farvid analyses an aspect of the show.