They have to battle the odds to stick together.
On “Married at First Sight,” which airs its 16th season on Jan. 4, singles wed complete strangers — and out of the 59 couples from the show’s 15 seasons, just 15 are still together.
But when the Lifetime series was searching for its first batch of contestants in 2015 in the Big Apple, the bigger challenge was simply keeping the singles at the casting call.
“I was in a room with maybe 50 other men, and as soon as they said, ‘The first time you’re gonna see this person will be at the end of the altar,’ half the room got up and left,” recalled Howell, N.J. native Doug Hehner.
The stay-at-home dad tied the knot with Jamie Otis, a nurse from Dryden, N.Y., whom he called “the love of my life.” They are still married and now have two children.
Hehner, now 40, had just gotten out of a relationship and moved back in with his parents before he decided to get married sight unseen.
But his new bride exceeded his expectations.
“She was more stunning than I could have ever imagined,” he gushed.
It wasn’t love at first sight for her, however, but Hehner stayed patient.
“I appreciated her honesty. I never took it as a dig,” he said. On their honeymoon flight, he noticed her feelings changing, and they shared their first kiss soon after.
Besides his initial attraction, Hehner found she fulfilled a lot of qualities he had on his checklist for a future partner.
“Someone that valued family, was adventurous, wanted children, really ambitious, strong, independent, and little things like the way that you sleep,” he said. “I like spooning, both big and little spoon. Turns out Jamie does, too.”
Hehner explained that Otis’ night shift at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital made them closer: “It gave us time to realize that we missed each other.”
Another contestant that season was Cortney Hendrix, now 34, a North Carolina native who married Brooklyn EMT, Jason Carrion. The pair fell in love but split five years later.
Hendrix was 25 when she moved to the Upper East Side in 2011 to attend makeup school and found Tinder a tough way to date.
She was pleased with who she met at the altar.
“I thought that the person at the end of the aisle was attractive,” she said. A lot of people are like, ‘Oh, looks don’t matter.’ Yes, they do,” she said.
A devout Christian, one of her deal breakers was faith. “I wasn’t gonna be in the in the business of converting someone to my religion,” she said.
Hendrix, who remarried in 2020 and has a 14-month-old son, asked that her mate make four times as much as she did.
“I wanted to be a little trophy wife, sit at home on my butt,” she said, laughing.
That plan backfired when Carrion became a fireman.
“That might be the last time that you see that person … And if you leave the house upset … you might not get the chance to fix it,” she said.
Both couples agreed that the secret to success on “MAFS” — which was rated the most popular reality TV show in New York in 2022 by Jeffbet.com based on a Google search — is honesty.
“I was really brutally honest with the assessment … so there was really no doubts as to who they were gonna match me up with,” Hehner said.
Although she has no regrets about participating in the dating show, Hendrix wouldn’t want her son to.
“Not a chance. I’m one of those mama bears now that’s like, ‘Oh, nobody gonna be good enough for my baby,’” she said. “He can marry me.”