By now, you’ve probably seen the controversial new Netflix reality TV show: The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On hosted by Vanessa Lachey and Nick Lachey.
And while going down the rabbit hole of what some affectionately dubbed a 10-part undeniable “hot mess,” you’ve probably screamed at the television and dropped your jaw in disbelief for some of the decisions the couples on the show made. When you’ve had other franchises like The Bachelor and Love is Blind, the hyper-concentrated show similar to Temptation Island is packed with drama and conversations that will make you cringe and shake your head.
The premise: Six couples participate after one partner in each pairing issues an ultimatum—these range from one partner feeling neglect, not wanting to start a family, or feeling like their partner needs to take the next step. Understandble.
The twist: Each couple is then asked to swap partners to live in a trial marriage for three weeks and decide if they want to propose to their new person, propose to their original partner, or even potentially just walk away.
If that doesn’t sound like an emotional mess, we don’t know what is at this point.
Because, while we think that a couples’ therapy session would’ve helped these couples avoid the emotional turmoil and drama they experienced on the show, it did leave us an opportunity to glean some helpful life reminders when it comes to dating and relationships.
Fair Warning: If you haven’t watched The Ultimatum yet, there are some spoilers ahead.
You Need to Be on the Same Page—Especially When it Comes to Kids
While I’m sure many of us cringed or gaped in disbelief at Nathan’s impulsive proposal, without so much as dealing with his and Lauren’s main issue, it did give us a stark reminder that when it comes to marriage it’s so important to be on the same page for the very important things.
In this case, the conversation surrounding kids was the ultimate ultimatum (say that 10 times fast): while Nathan wanted kids, Lauren always indicated her hesitations.
And while, often we’re told that compromise is key—whether one does or doesn’t want kids, or if both partners are on different pages, you could end up finding yourself dissatisfied with the relationship down the line, because of the pressure to have or not have kids.
In these situations, it’s crucial to continue having these conversations over a period of time—that’s longer than just the week that Nathan and Lauren gave themselves on the show.
Rejection Hurts—But Don’t Make Brash Decisions Because of It
What made Nathan’s proposal even more surprising to most—maybe in part, thanks to the way the show was edited—is that it looked like he had only made this decision because the two girls he had connected with outside of his partner (April and Shanique) didn’t choose him, and he wasn’t ready to see Lauren pair up with Colby.
Confusing? We know.
But if it reminds us of anything, it’s that scarcity mindset isn’t enough to just make such a life-changing decision.
For those who don’t know, a scarcity mindset is when one becomes obsessed with a lack of something, that they can’t seem to focus on anything else. In a show like The Ultimatum, this mindset is seen in how hyper-focused everyone is on getting the ring, without fully investing their energy into fixing what will ultimately help them have a healthy marriage.
While we don’t deny that, as Lauren mentioned, the relationship was going on two years at this point, there was something mirroring that of a fear of the unknown—and ultimately rejection—that had Nathan make such an impulsive decision on a national TV show.
Communication is Truly Key
It’s the age-old adage that communication is key—and in this case, it truly is. While the couples on the show were able to open up and talk to their new partner, it always proved difficult with their original one.
But it’s not just about being able to say what you feel. If April and Jake reminded us of anything, it’s also equally important to truly hear what your partner is saying. For Jake, a lot of his dissatisfaction stemmed from the fact that April just never really respected what he wanted or had to say—including how he desperately really didn’t want to be on this show.
And, So is Trust
While some of us may have applauded April for her super-sleuthing abilities to even unlock Jake’s phone, we’ve got to agree with Vanessa Lachey’s suggestion that if we feel we have to creep our partner’s phone—i.e. trust just doesn’t exist—you probably shouldn’t be together.
Hand-in-hand with communication, trust is a critical building block in any relationship. And while we do believe trust can grow again after it’s been broken, it’s a bit of a red flag if we can’t even directly ask our partner to be honest with us or if they have to hide something, too.
Don’t Involve Third-Parties in Your Relationship—Unless it’s a Therapist
While one of the glaring red flags throughout the show was Colby’s involvement of an external female to give Madlyn a “proper experience” since he couldn’t have it with April (cue an eyebrow raise here), there really is no excuse to include any other person in your dynamic.
For a lot of individuals, being able to engage—and more so live—with a different person, can often be seen more as a sense of escape, rather than actually facing the issues head on. While we don’t deny that for some of these couples, interacting with other parties definitely gave them the positive outcomes and perspectives needed for their situations to take a step back, there are much more healthier approaches to unearthing the root problems and finding solutions.
Call us old school, but if you really need to be with someone else to figure out if you want to be with your partner, maybe instead of cheering with silver tumbler wine glasses on a reality TV show with a new third-party, maybe they could’ve chosen therapy instead (which we are glad to hear some of them did, post-show).