June 25, 2009

7 Things to Learn From Reality Show Couples

Some of your favorite reality TV-show couples weigh in on what is and what is not “reality.

In 1979, comedian Robin Williams launched his now famous and “infamous” stand-up album, Reality What a Concept and took his comedic genius to new heights as he explored the dark corners, pieces, parts and secrets that we have come to know as reality. Today, “reality television” is hardly as startling a concept as it was a decade (or two) ago, but beyond the “dramality” of it all, what can we learn from this genre and more specifically, what can we learn from the couples who have agreed, “for better or for worse,” to bare it all for the camera?

 1. Get back to basics and reconnect with who you are. Uchenna and Joyce Agu of The Amazing Race explain that, “there is a point where you forget about the cameras; the environment or the competition becomes all there is. All things that you have come to recognize as you in your ‘controlled world’ begin to fade and you are left with the basic ‘you,’ the real you. This is where the unbelievable moments occur. Both viewer and contestant are moved off center to the point of intense emotion. For any couple, these moments of clarity offer a rare opportunity. We call it the ‘Reality Mirror of Truth.’ Most reality shows present you opportunity to see the best and the worst in each other and maybe more importantly oneself. It’s up to the person or couple to take the opportunity and grow from it. The viewer also has a choice: find a way to relate to it and grow; or judge, disconnect and write off the lesson as just pure entertainment, learning nothing and missing an opportunity.”

2. The truth is lawful, not awful. Dr. Kevin Fleming, president and CEO of a unique behavioral transformation and coaching firm (www.DrKevinFleming.com) says when working on a relationship, it is very common to fight reality, which of course leads to fighting with each other. “In my work with couples, I combine neuroscience and life coaching to get folks to see that most conflicts are wishes unmet.”

3. There is no script for relationships. “Even though you can’t script a relationship, there are basic checkpoints that help you in navigating to that mutual happy place,” say Uchenna and Joyce Agu. “What our parents always told us yet struggled at times to maintain themselves was to have respect and true compassion in your relationship. If those two things break down, the going can get very tough.”

4. Sometimes the proof is in the proof! Silvana Clark (www.silvanaclark.com) and her husband who appeared on the FOX reality show Trading Spouses explains, “We knew we had a terrific, fun and amazing 30-year marriage. After being on the show we really knew we had a terrific marriage.” Sometimes you just have to admit everything might not be perfect, but it is pretty darn good. A drama-free zone is not a bad thing so don’t create chaos if things are going well.

5. Play the tape through. In my work as Life Coach and having worked with many individuals to explore the “what next” in their post reality show relationships, time and again the common theme is clear. Those who played it out in front of the camera were never given the opportunity to play the tape through The universal lesson, consider all the possible scenarios before you open your mouth and inadvertently stick your foot in it.

6. Say what you mean, but no need to be mean with what you say. Your mother was right! If you don’t have anything nice to say… be quiet. Not something that often happens on reality television and we certainly see the outcome. So don’t be afraid to speak your truth, but turn the volume down a notch and pay attention when your spouse is speaking—no “channel surfing” allowed!

7. Lights, camera, action. “Don’t just stand there, do something!” We have all screamed it or something like it at reality show couples, but in truth we can learn a great deal from them. Whether they are chasing fortune (and each other) all over the globe, working off the pounds together, or simply swapping spouses (not what you might think), all these couples agree on one thing: change doesn’t happen by accident and a relationship is an active state of being.


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