Married at First Sight's Derek Schwartz Explains Why His and Heather Seidel's Marriage Failed After 10 Days
The couple's short-lived marriage came to an abrupt end on the 10th and final decision day
While Schwartz, 35, was hopeful that the FYI network’s social experiment program would work for him and Seidel, he told PEOPLE that he was “disappointed and frustrated that the process didn’t really get to be finished all the way.”
After the couple returned from their honeymoon, they spent three days apart before sitting down to make a decision on their future together. Though Schwartz had an inkling that his 32-year-old bride wanted to call it quits, he remained hopeful.
“I kind of felt like she was going to say that she wanted a divorce, but I was still a bit optimistic,” Schwartz told PEOPLE of approaching the tenth and final day of their marriage. “The first time that she said [she wanted a divorce] was on the decision day.”
According to Schwartz, Seidel viewed his continuous smoking as a “deal breaker” in their marriage: “On the second day, she just mentioned that she thought that it was a deal breaker because my smoking was too frequent for her. She was kind of saying that it was a deal breaker right there, which to me I was kind of like, ‘Holy cow. A deal breaker already? What are you saying?’ It shouldn’t be a deal breaker if I’m willing to compromise and kind of make it a non-issue; it shouldn’t be a deal breaker was how I thought at the time,” the groom explained.
Although the season 4 couple had previously spoken about the topic, Schwartz said that he discussed it again with Seidel on the honeymoon, who explained that his continual use became an issue for the flight attendant.
“I brought it to her attention. She said she was okay with it and it never came up again until I asked her what was bothering her. She said, ‘It’s your smoking.’ I said, ‘Well, I thought you were okay with it.’ She said, ‘Well, basically I wanted to see. When I said I was okay, I wanted to see how often you were going to smoke.’ ”
“So I let her know that it probably might have been better to address with me or speak with me about it and we could have come to a resolution,” he explained. “I was always willing to compromise with it and I told that to the experts prior to getting matched that whatever the person that I’m matched with stance is on the topic, I’ll adjust accordingly.”
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But although Schwartz was willing to “talk about it and come to a compromise where we’re both happy” – he admitted that he “would have been okay with” either “cutting back or eliminating [smoking] totally” – his frequent usage was not something Seidel was willing to compromise on.
Cameras also caught Schwartz calling his bride an “alcoholic” during the honeymoon, which he said was his attempt “to make a comparison.”
“I’m saying that if by you evaluating my smoking while we’re on the honeymoon, if you’re saying that makes me – because you’re seeing me do it for two days – have a problem, then by me seeing you drink alcohol since we’ve been here would be the same thing by your logic,” Schwartz explained of the reason he called his ex-wife an “alcoholic” on the show. “Maybe I didn’t articulate as clearly I was hoping to, but I was trying to make a comparison which maybe wasn’t the best idea, but that’s how I meant it in that case.”
Despite the duo’s relationship not making it past the 10-day mark, Schwartz, who is “definitely open to finding love again,” isn’t regretful of his decision to go on the reality series in an attempt to find a life partner.
“I am so happy that I did it because it was such an opportunity to push yourself in a different direction,” Schwartz explained. “Dr. Pepper [Schwartz] was telling me that it was going to be a great opportunity to learn about myself when I get to see the episodes back and I agree. That alone has been so insightful, just giving me an opportunity to kind of look at the way I handed situations and try and reflect on it and learn in some way.”
Though the former spouses aren’t “speaking right now” according to Schwartz, he wishes her well and hopes “she’s okay with her decision and that she’s gotten back to the happiness that she was looking for.”
And even though Schwartz recognizes that the reality series is an experiment, he believes that the differences between him and Seidel might have been ironed out with more time.
“I think that Heather and I have many differences and the differences stood out more than the similarities on the surface,” Schwartz explained. “It takes a lot of work and determination to get past those differences to discover those similarities and unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to really get to learn those things about each other and what brought us together. And we didn’t have the time to grow to appreciate those things about each other.”
Married at First Sight airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on FYI.