Fans of Lifetime’s “Married at First Sight” are well acquainted with the show’s relationship experts, Pastor Calvin Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles. With Roberson a part of “MAFS” since the fourth season and Coles joining more recently, the duo is now taking its skills in a whole other direction for a new spinoff, “Married at First Sight: Unmatchables.”
While “Married at First Sight” weds couples who meet at the altar and must then decide whether they want to stay married, the new show focuses on 16 former applicants for the original “MAFS,” who, for various reasons, were deemed unsuitable for matrimony. Those reasons range from a woman who multi-tasks by eating meals on the toilet to a funeral director who prefers the company of the deceased. It’s up to Coles and Roberson to tutor these titular “unmatchables” in preparation for a blind date that could set them on a path to lasting romance.
In this exclusive interview with Nicki Swift, Roberson and Coles explain how “Unmatchables” differs from the original “MAFS,” detail some of the biggest challenges they encountered, and discuss why the original show has such a surprisingly strong track record of creating lasting couples.
How Pastor Calvin Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles joined Married at First Sight
How did each of you become involved with the “Married at First Sight” franchise in the first place?
Dr. Viviana Coles: Well, I started in Season 9 after about two years of working with Kinetic [the production company behind “Married At First Sight”]. I’m trying to find the right project, and then once there was a position available, they thought of me. What they told me was they thought of me first. Fortunately, I was available and super excited to be a part of something that was so established, had so much credibility, quality behind it. It’s been amazing ever since.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah. I started actually in Season 4 from a chance connection where we were contacted by a casting agency. My wife and I have been doing counseling for the last 20 years. Marriage coaching well, me for 20, for her the last 10. What happened was that they contacted us and asked us for a referral. So we sent them a couple, one of our couples that needed some help for one of their shows. The couple talked about us. So they wanted to talk to us. When they talked to us, they wanted to work with us.
Dr. Viviana Coles: They were wowed by the Robersons, of course.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: So that’s how that happened. It has been a great ride. It’s been a really great opportunity.
Pastor Calvin Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles on how Unmatchables 'ain't MAFS'
And now you’re involved in the new spinoff Unmatchables. What makes it different and stand out from the original show?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Oh wow. This is, as you say, hashtag #thisaintMAFS. This ain’t “MAFS.” This is a far cry from “Married at First Sight.” It’s comprised of individuals who wanted to be [on] “Married at First Sight.” A great number of them applied to be on “Married at First Sight,” but they were not ready to be married at any sight. So what we’re doing is we’re taking them and they’re all just incredible individuals though. They have so much heart and they’re smart and they’re intelligent and they’re attractive. But they just have some dating challenges that really need to be tweaked. That’s how it begins. You tell them what we do after that.
Dr. Viviana Coles: On top of that, this is not marriage. This is dating and it’s not even really dating. It’s a blind date that we set up after one week of working with these individuals. Both Cal and I get our shot at them to be able to really help them, to prepare them to go on a good date that will hopefully help them to build some confidence in their dating lives. It could spark a little something between the two daters, but we don’t know. I guess we’ll all find out at the same time because we do get to watch the dates as they happen and give our commentary, which is so interesting to see. I mean, [have you] ever wanted to be a fly on the wall? We get to be the flies on the wall, and it’s super, super exciting.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: We’re the flies watching all the stuff—
Dr. Viviana Coles: On the dumpster.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Right, right.
Dr. Viviana Coles: It’s just so fun and exciting. These transformations, they are like you’ve never seen before. I mean, the more I think about what it is that we were able to do with them, the more I’m living out these fantasies of all the amazing makeovers that I’ve seen on TV. These are so far beyond that. I can’t believe they allowed us to do these things, but they really are letting us use our expertise in a really fun and experiential way.
The cast of Unmatchables has some serious quirks
From what I’ve seen of the show so far, some of these people have some pretty extreme quirks.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: That’s a very kind way of putting it, extreme quirks. I mean, everything from being a serial ghoster to having meals on the toilet. To having never been kissed to—
Dr. Viviana Coles: To only eating chicken nuggets.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Only eating chicken nuggets. To living a lavish lifestyle and requiring to be taken care of and answer—
Dr. Viviana Coles: To only hanging out with dead people.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah, right. These are a lot of quirks, but it’s funny because we didn’t get them from circuses. These are actually people—
Dr. Viviana Coles: Who want to be in love.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: These are actually people who want to be in love, who are just normal people except for these few—
Dr. Viviana Coles: Issues.
But when you’re dealing with people like that, does it kind of take you out of the normal realm of what you usually do? What kind of challenges did you face in helping these people get ready for dating and being in a relationship?
Dr. Viviana Coles: Well, when people come to see us— I have a private practice also, Pastor Calvin sees clients on his own too. They kind of know what they’re in for. These people were just brave enough to show up and to have said, “Oh my gosh, I get to work with the experts,” but they had no idea that this again, this ain’t “MAFS.” That this is not private practice counseling. We get to have access to all sorts of ways to teach really fun necessary lessons, for the most part, they were game. Some of them I’m sure that they wish they were running.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah. Well, it’s funny because we did get some pushback after we got into the process because they were like, “Wait a minute, we didn’t know that it’s going to take all this.” And it’s like, “But you know, radical situations call for radical rescues.” So if you had to be kind of radical in some situations, but I think at the end they all learn—
Dr. Viviana Coles: We hope.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: We hope that they learn something. That’s a whole— We want to be their mirror to show them some of the things that need to be correct.
The unmatchables didn't always like taking the experts' advice
Were some of the people on Unmatchables more resistant to taking your advice than others?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Of course. Absolutely.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Well, we came in guns blazing. I mean, we have one week with you, we’re going to do our absolute best with all of the resources that we have. And maybe some of them were freaking out, but OK, do it scared. So what?
When you’re counseling a couple, that’s certainly one skill set. But when you’re working with people with this aim in mind, of preparing them for a date, how do you recalibrate, how you talk to people and the kind of advice you give?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah. This is [a] great question because on “Married at First Sight,” you’re absolutely right, we’re talking with two married couples who have married problems. They’re all relationship problems. What I love about this is that we do have an opportunity to talk to people before they get married. We’re talking to single people who are looking for love. So you have to sort of change the fact that I’m not talking to a couple, but an individual, but still the principles are the same. As far as being vulnerable, as far as being willing to change, as far as seeing yourself, and seeing your own problems or issues. As well as looking at your own strengths, feeling good about yourself coming out of your shell. These are things that whether you’re single or married or necessary just to be in a good relationship.
Dr. Viviana Coles: But it certainly is fun to do this in a way where we don’t have to— the stakes aren’t as high, which allows us to really just have fun with it so that they can see dating as fun. I mean, with marriage, everything is so serious because we’re talking about lives and families. We’ve been so fortunate to have families come out of “Married at First Sight”—
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Marriage can be fun though. No, no, no.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Right, right. No, for sure but getting thrown into the deep end is not usually very fun. But with this, we really do get to have to show them that dating can be fun and being yourself can be fun. It doesn’t always have to be funny or weird, and you might want to kind of temper that. It’s just a different show. There’s nothing ever been like this. There’s really isn’t.
How Unmatchables compares to the original MAFS
One description I’d seen of “Married At First Unsight: Unmatchables” compared the show to a cross between the original “MAFS” and “Queer Eye.”
Dr. Viviana Coles: “Love is Blind.” “Queer Eye.” The blind date thing.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah. “Queer at First Sight” or something. Something like that.
Dr. Viviana Coles: I love that. I love that, because both of those shows have such an impact. To be able to be compared to both of them together. This is awesome.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah. And they’re great shows. I think that’s really an apt description because there are some serious transformations that happen. The final result hopefully is that people will come out of this being better, looking better, feeling better, acting better.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Yeah. There’s a lot of heart to it. I mean, we really care about the future for these dating singles. We want them to feel more confident. We want them to find love. We truly believe— We’ve talked about this so much between the two of us. We’re both married to other people and we love our marriages—
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Thank you for saying that.
Dr. Viviana Coles: We love our relationships. We want to share that with others. We want everyone to be happy and healthy in their relationships. This is at the very beginning of that. How amazing.
Their experience on MAFS helped Pastor Calvin Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles prepare for the challenge of Unmatchables
In terms of the original show, how much did your experience there prepare you for sort of this new shift in “Unmatchables?” Is it something that was just completely different or were you able to sort of segue into it?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: That’s a great question, man. I think that, of course, every experience in life is a learning experience and you take stuff on. That’s philosophical, but in reality, I think that this sort of just taps into a different arsenal of expertise. “Married at First Sight,” we come in with a different mindset completely. The mindset is to preserve the marriage. What can you do to make this work? With “Unmatchables,” the mindset is to correct behavior. What can we do to make sure you can find some love in your life because the way you go about it is screwed up.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Find it and keep it.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Find it and keep it. Yeah.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Keep that love. I think for me, this was— “Married at First Sight” is my first TV show experience. It’s a well-oiled machine at this point. When I came in, I didn’t have to do anything but do the work that I do with my clients on screen. It was very, very easy to just come in, step in. Yes, I came in running and ready to go. But with “Unmatchables” it was so different. I mean—
Pastor Calvin Roberson: And new.
Dr. Viviana Coles: New. There’s nothing to really compare it to. While you’ll see that there are probably some similarities to “Love is Blind” or “Queer Eye” or whatever. It’s probably few and far between because this is so new and radical. I remember feeling like, “Oh my goodness, this is really like, really? I get to do this, really, I get to do that?” There wasn’t a sense of calm. It was more like super excitement. I’m just so excited about what’s about to happen.
Pastor Calvin Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles explain why Married at First Sight has been so successful in creating lasting marriages
I recall when “Married at First Sight” was first announced, there was a feeling that, “Well, this is a gimmick,” that this would be something that’s going to burn out really quickly. Yet, here we are, 12 seasons later…
Dr. Viviana Cole: That’s some gimmick.
And the “MAFS” success rate for couples that stayed together is pretty impressive. So, I mean, from that perspective the format actually succeeds better than something like “The Bachelor,” for example.
Dr. Viviana Coles: True. I think that for a lot of people, what works is that we all want love. We’re all on the side of healthy love. When we get that seamlessly, everyone’s cheering. When people struggle with it, everyone’s still cheering. When it’s not there, people are learning and they’re sad, because we’re all very invested in it. So it captures everyone who cares about love in general. Whether they’ve had it, lost it, never had it, wanted in it. I think it’s huge. It’s a huge draw is that this is about love.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: And I think also the one reason that I believe that we were finding more success, I mean, we’re talking about what is it? Twelve couples are together, we have eight-plus, I think, babies. The reason that I think that we can boast that as opposed to some of the other shows — I won’t mention any names — is because all the vetting that we do is incredible on “Married at First Sight.” I mean, we really do a lot of background checks and a lot of psychological evaluations. We do a lot of pre-work to make sure that these couples have a great chance at it. So I think that’s going to be a lot different than maybe one of the other shows. Where a lot of 30 women and have one dude, and “Hey, you guys figure it out.”
Dr. Viviana Coles: Someone’s going to want to marry him apparently.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Somebody will marry him. But no, I think it’s much more focused, and as Viviana would say, “The intent behind it,” I believe there’s so much more gravitas there with the intent behind the show.
Dr. Viviana Coles: I think everyone involved with “Married at First Sight”—
Pastor Calvin Roberson: They believe in marriage.
Dr. Viviana Coles: They are committed to trying to make this be something that works forever. I think everyone has shown and proven behind the scenes and onscreen that to have this go on forever. We want to have those love stories. We want the franchise to grow. Couples can exist, because there are couples who are still there today and have families, and want to show everybody their journey. We want much more of that.
Married at First Sight: Unmatchables offered 'so many' surprises for Pastor Calvin Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles
In terms of the new show, “Married at First Sight: Unmatchables,” what was the most surprising thing that you encountered, whether it’s with the people you’re working with or the process, or how they responded on those dates. What surprised you?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: There’s so many.
Dr. Viviana Coles: I laugh, because it is so outrageous. Some of the things we get to do, I’m like, “This is so amazing.” The most shocking, surprising piece of it is that people did take it seriously. They took what we brought to the table, even though it was packaged in a kind of wilder-looking package. I think that they took it seriously. Maybe I’m surprised at how much heart actually there was, because I knew what my intentions were. I know what Cal’s intentions are: to help. But I love that they actually took it very seriously, for the most part, a lot of them you’ll see. That was really exciting and shocking.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: I think what was a big shock for me was that for as different as each of their challenges were, they were still just normal people. I mean, it’s funny, because you see people, whether on TV or people you know, “Oh my God, that’s a weird person because they may do A, B, or C. What’s wrong with them?” You have all these reactions, but when you get to know them, you’re like, “Nah, this is just a really good person who just picked up some crazy, crazy habits somewhere.” So I hope that is that heart, that normalcy comes through because this is not— The intent of the show is not just to be a fecal festival. If I can say that because I’m a pastor, I can’t curse. But it’s a show that these are people with heart, who want relationships. We’re hoping that single people watching it, that married people watching it because they’ll learn some of the same lessons that people learn from “Married at First Sight.” That, “Hey, there’s hope for me.”
Dr. Viviana Coles: Without having to go through all of these crazy challenges of transformation.
Unmatchables presented a whole new set of challenges for Dr. Viviana Coles and Pastor Calvin Roberson
In terms of the television aspect of it, was it exciting to take on a new set of challenges with “Unmatchables?” To sort of step outside of your own comfort zone and a different sort of television experience?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Yeah. I would, I’ll speak for myself for sure. I felt like I finally get to show my excitement, because I’m not just coming into crises, right? Like, this is—
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Overwhelming excitement.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Yeah. Very overwhelming.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Painstaking excitement.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Like one of those goats who gets excited and like, “Oh, that’s me.” I am so excited all the time, because this is like, “I can’t believe this is my life.” I get to use my expertise in this way. I’m like, “When I got my license, I never knew I was going to be standing on top of cars with sledgehammers.” And like, it was just—
Pastor Calvin Roberson: That’s her. I don’t really, I don’t say, I don’t understand nothing.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Not this time, maybe next time.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Right. But it’s a whole different ball game. I mean, I’ve done “Married at First Sight” and a few other spinoffs for the show. A few other projects, but this is different, because in working with— I love working with single people. I love helping people to find their best self and helping them to develop into someone that is not only just marriable, but that they feel good about. So being able to just follow your own personal passion and being able to do it and let millions of other people see it.
Dr. Viviana Coles: It’s wild.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: I mean, it’s a great thing. So the whole TV aspect, sometimes you forget its TV. I mean, for me it’s like, “I’m doing this. Oh my God. I can’t say that, I’m on camera, or I can’t do this, I’m on camera.” So, it’s—
Dr. Viviana Coles: Or, “Wait a minute, I’m wearing this and I’m on camera.”
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah. Right, right. “Oh, wow. I need to lose weight, I’m on camera.”
MAFS counseling isn't the same as what Dr. Viviana Coles and Pastor Calvin Roberson do in their actual practices
When you’re counseling someone, because you both have, as you said, private practices. So you do this on TV, but you also do it for real. Is there a line that you have, or do they sometimes kind of blur together? Do you take a different approach when you do it in private then when you counsel people on television?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Here’s the thing, with “Married at First Sight,” we don’t stand as therapists for the couples. We work for the show to coach them, so we don’t have therapeutic relationships. The same here, these are not therapeutic relationships. So you keep your business relationships, sort of separate from your TV relationships, understanding the capacity in which you were working. That this is not just, but we’re in a helping position, but it’s not a therapeutic position.
Dr. Viviana Coles: For me, it’s definitely different. My style of counseling of psychotherapy when I’m working with the clients, it’s probably pretty different, meaning that I don’t usually just jump in first sentence and say, “OK, this is what I think needs to happen.” There’s much more of a buildup. There’s much more— Of course, I’m a certified sex therapist, so I’m talking a lot about intimacy, the physicality of love. I don’t get to do that quite as much with the shows just yet. So I think it is very different for me. I still get my points across, but they’re going to be a lot faster, quicker, maybe even, I guess, more in your face. Whereas in counseling, I mean, it truly is a collaboration with myself and my clients. Then this show is — I’m very much sharing right away and I’m almost talking at them because that’s what they need at the moment.
Pastor Calvin Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles reveal how Married at First Sight finds its couples
Did you have in how the matches were made on “Married at First Sight?” Same question for “Unmatchables,” or do the producers just sort bring you the choices they’ve made?
Dr. Viviana Coles: For “Married at First Sight,” we’ve had over 75,000 applicants who would like to do this. We’re so fortunate that we don’t get to meet all of them just because we do have other parts of our lives to nourish and to nurture our kids and relationships. But we have a casting department that definitely helps us to whittle down to who they think could be people that we really like and that other people couldn’t go to love that we match them with. With “Unmatchables,” these are people who didn’t go through the entire matchmaking process. Some of them do go pretty far, home visits all that.
Others, they were applications that, “No, not going to happen.” So we really rely on our casting department. They know what we’re looking for. They know what we want, and we don’t have as much of a say with that. As far as the matching on a “Unmatchables” again, this is very much about the individual growth and the individual development. Sometimes they could work out, but sometimes not and that’s not the goal. The blind date should be about really implementing what we’ve taught them. That hopefully it being something that they move on with confidence.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: But with “Married at First Sight,” though, when it comes down to just to add on to what you’re saying — when it comes down to the actual matching of the couples though — Even though the casting, by the time we get to them, they’ve gotten—
Dr. Viviana Coles: A few hundred. Yeah.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: [Gotten] rid of a couple hundred. They’ve gotten rid of the unmatchables, and so we get those in the other show. But when it comes down to the last couple of hundred, we spend the entire long weekends actually going, talking to each of them individually—
Dr. Viviana Coles: And their families, and their friends.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: When it comes and the families and everything, and then when it comes down to the actual matching, the three of us, we are the sole ones who actually do the matching. A lot of people will say, “Well, you know what? The producers know it’s us.”
Dr. Viviana Coles: Sometimes I wish I could be like, “Sure. It was the producers. Yeah, right.”
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah. We got to take the good with the bad, baby.
The key factors Dr. Viviana Coles and Pastor Calvin Roberson look for when making a match
What are some of the key things that you look for when you’re trying to match one person with another? Is it sort of a boilerplate thing or does it change dramatically from person to person?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Well, there are some basic things that we look for that we believe everyone exists, everyone has, for instance, what are your values? What are those irreplaceable principles you live your life by?
Dr. Viviana Coles: Likability.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: What’s your history? Yeah. Your history, likability, the whole idea of are you flexible? I mean, are you vulnerable? I mean, what are your deal breakers? We look for a number of— We look for just kind people. I think that’s something that is just irreplaceable. I mean, are you a kind person? I mean, are you nice? Do you like people? Do you like women? Do you like men? Do you like people of the opposite sex? Because there are a lot of people [who] want to get married. A lot of guys want to get married, but they don’t really like women. I mean, like really like them, not love them, like them.
Dr. Viviana Coles: We’re able to then live and build a life with them. They don’t have enough experience to say, “This is what I’m looking for.” I think authenticity is always something that we’re looking for. That we have all eyes and ears are looking and gauging for authenticity because we don’t need actors. Unlike a lot of other shows, we don’t want actors. We want you to hopefully grow to be comfortable in front of cameras or else the whole experience will be about you learning how to film versus focusing on your marriage and growing your marriage. But we don’t want anybody who’s only here for that. We try our best to weed those people out.
Juggling their TV work with their actual jobs can get hectic
In terms of your private practices for both of you, is it difficult to juggle the TV aspect of your life with the other aspects? I mean, it must get hectic.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: It’s crazy. It’s so crazy because we have to juggle. What I do in addition to this, of course, we [were] just talking about this earlier, I do meet with clients and do relationship coaching. But in addition to that, I’m an actual pastor. I don’t just play one on TV. So I do have an actual church, as well as other business ventures that we do. So there’s a lot of Zoom, thank God for Zoom. For Zoom and WebEx and all these other— So we do a lot of work on the road often. Because of the pandemic, we might have to quarantine for days before we actually do anything. That’s great time to catch up and thank God we have spouses who are very accommodating.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Very supportive. Yeah.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Very understanding and very supportive. So it’s really cool.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Up until 15 minutes before this, I was with clients on mornings, seeing them from my hotel room. I think it’s just important to have a balance. I’ve been very fortunate that with help from production and again, adjusting and adaptability, that this has continued to allow me to have my private practice be at a core piece of who I am. Because being a psychotherapist truly is what I am. I’m an actual licensed therapist. I’m licensed in three different states now. The certification as a sex therapist, all of that. It’s been great trying to make sure that I can have all of these different pieces going on and it’s working out well so far.
How fans of the show react when meeting Pastor Calvin Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles in person
Well, you’re also celebrities, in that you’re on television and people will recognize you when you’re out in public.
Dr. Viviana Coles: I don’t—
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Oh, my gosh!
Dr. Viviana Coles: He gets recognized all the time. I don’t.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Oh, yes you do.
Dr. Viviana Coles: If I’m with him—
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Oh, stop it.
Dr. Viviana Coles: OK. What about all the times that they’re like, “Can I get a picture with Pastor Cal?”
Pastor Calvin Roberson: And they give you the phone to take the picture.
Dr. Viviana Coles: And I’m like, “I’ll take it.” They have no clue.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: No, look. Whatever, man.
Dr Viviana Coles: I’m fine. It’s great.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Look, it’s kind of hard to miss me.
Dr. Viviana Coles: And Dr. Pepper [Schwartz, fellow “MAFS” relationship expert]. If we were Dr. Pepper, that’s it. We’re going to stop a million times.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah, yeah. Well, she trumps everybody. She could wear a mask and glasses and they still recognize her.
Well, when people do recognize you, what do they say to you? I mean, is there like a No. 1 thing that people tell you?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: My gosh.
Dr. Viviana Coles: It’s all about a love. We get a lot of love.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: We get a lot of love. They always want to know about the show. They want to know all, “Wow. What’s going to happen with…?” Of course, we can’t give any spoilers with anybody, but it’s very complimentary and just very, very kind. People are very kind, irrespective if they may have just cursed us out on social media, but when they meet us they’re very kind.
Dr. Viviana Coles: I think everybody wants to be a part of these love stories. I think for the most part, there’s just a whole lot of hope that people have. I think that through doing interviews, they get to see what we really are about. That three hours of filming turns into three minutes. Fortunately, because we are able to have a voice outside of this and production allows us to share what’s really going on and all the different facets of what we’re doing. I think they really appreciate what we’re doing and we’re just lucky.
COVID-19 added some complications to shooting Married at First Sight: Unmatchables
I think the average person who might watch a show like yours probably doesn’t realize how much footage is actually shot that doesn’t make it into the show. But in terms of that now you’re also, as you mentioned, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, how has that affected the process of filming it? It must’ve added some complicating layers.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Oh, yeah. You’ll notice that we’re sitting pretty close to each other. So we’re risking disease right now.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Yeah. We actually are COVID tested multiple times this week.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Oh, my gosh.
Dr. Viviana Coles: I’m vaccinated and he’s next.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yes. Our noses are just sore with swabs.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Very open, very open. Again, we’re just so fortunate. I keep saying that and it’s true. From the very beginning, from just when the inklings of COVID were coming in. Production just went above and beyond to try to make sure that we could continue working safely. There was a bit of a shutdown, but compared to what other shows have been through, there was something about obviously production and our network. They were on the cutting edge of what it’s going to take to stay healthy and safe. We’ve been so fortunate that it really hasn’t affected our production. I mean, I don’t know, so far, knock on wood. But it’s been a lot of testing, a lot of compliance. We have COVID compliance officers everywhere. Really, I think everybody just wants to make sure that we can continue. These are not just the livelihoods of the couples, but livelihoods for so many in production and of course, for us. We’re just— It’s amazing. We’re willing to do whatever it takes as long as we stay safe and healthy.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Their efforts really paid off, because we’ve had very few incidents of anyone contracting the virus. It’s actually been quite impressive to see just how particular and how—
Dr. Viviana Coles: Or like family members, people who are out and then everybody who’s involved with that just kind of quarantines and gets away and then fortunately we stay safe. But I think everybody’s aware.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah. I think so. Yeah.
The most common advice Dr. Viviana Coles and Pastor Calvin Roberson find themselves giving over and over
Now, when you’re counselling a couple on the show, is there one particular piece of advice that you find yourself giving over and over? Something that is very common within that situation?
Dr. Viviana Coles: You’ve got one, you’ve got your hashtag.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah. That’s definitely for “Married at First Sight.” It’s my thing. Marriage is for big boys and big girls. If you’re going to do this thing, you got to be ready for it. You got to put on your big boy panties and do what’s necessary. So for me, it’s just being accountable, being responsible and doing the work. Just do what it takes. I was telling someone recently what they were saying, “My marriage is not working.” And I said, “Well, no, I think you have it wrong.” Marriage doesn’t work, people work. Marriage is simply the vehicle that people get into, but marriage is not supposed to work. You are the people who are supposed to work. When people can get that in their minds, you have to do the work to make marriage work. To make it successful.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Yeah. I think for me, it may not be as fun of a hashtag, but I always ask them, “Would you want you?” When you’re dating and when you’re married, how can you keep someone if you wouldn’t want you either. So working on improving yourself, loving yourself, accepting yourself, working through insecurities, working through communication issues. All of that, I think really comes down to the question, would you want you?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah, yeah. Which is important. I mean, I would want me.
Dr. Viviana Coles: I know.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: I love me. Don’t you love you?
Dr. Viviana Coles: We love us, yes. Yes, I love me too.
It's not easy when Pastor Calvin Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles can't help a relationship work
Obviously, it must be rewarding when you can help a couple work through their issues and see the relationship succeed. But on the flip side, how do you cope with it when, after your best efforts, it just doesn’t seem to work? How do you deal with that?
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Wow.
Dr. Viviana Coles: Well, because of our professional backgrounds, I know I’ve been working with clients since 2003, it isn’t about me. I can only do so much and I’m not going to work harder than the couple. I’m not going to work harder than the participants. I can only do so much, and I feel that’s the professional side of me. Having had that experience in my practice, there’s only so much that I can do and then I need to move on so I can be helpful to others.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah, yeah. I like to think that it’s always difficult. I mean, we both fight for marriages. We fight for relationships—
Dr. Viviana Coles: For healthy ones.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: It’s what we do. We want people to succeed and even the unhealthy ones, we want them to be happy, because I don’t believe that a failed relationship means that you’re a failed person. I think that a relationship can fail and you can still end up doing well, end up in a good place. So I think that it’s painful, because I know for me, we both— But I know that we invest a lot of heart into what we’re doing. Just like the viewing audience looks at, “Oh my God, I wish they had made it.” We’re saying the same thing. We wish they had made it and they could have made it if they had just listened, but—
I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I’m going to anyhow and ask, what would you tell someone about why they should be watching “Unmatchables?”
Dr. Viviana Coles: There is nothing like it ever. I feel like if you love to laugh, if you’re OK with a cry, if you’re OK with suspense, if you’re OK with a radical, explosive at times, TV show, then it’s got a little bit of everything for anyone. But ultimately it does come down to love. So if you love love, then this is for you.
Pastor Calvin Roberson: Yeah. I think that “Unmatchables” is going to be one of the most exciting relationship mirrors that people have seen in awhile. I mean, you’re going to see yourself in a lot of these people. Instead of just seeing yourself, you’re going to see how to better yourself. So I think that’s going to be the exciting part of it. So many people I believe are going to see this and say, “Oh my God, is that me?” Then, okay, maybe I need to correct some things. So I think it’s going to be great.
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