Can switching spouses with a stranger save your marriage? The couples of Seven Year Switch certainly hope so.
The Lifetime reality series, the third season of which premieres Tuesday, July 17 at 10 p.m., takes four couples experiencing some serious marital problems and, with the help of relationship experts, mix and match the couples. At the end of "switch therapy," the couples will either return to each other with new skills and an appreciation for one another, or there's a chance they could find love in their therapy marriage too!
It sounds extreme, but relationship expert Charles J. Orlando, who along with Dr. Jessica Griffin helps leads these couples through the process, knows it can work. He explained the process to PopCulture.com exclusively prior to the Season 3 premiere, saying it's not as crazy a step in marriage counseling as it might seem.
The couples this season — Bobby and Rosslyn, Tony and Angela, Charles and Kenya, and Diane and Reece — have some serious issues to confront during therapy, from infidelity and separation to intimacy issues and ultimatums. But these aren't issues cooked up for reality TV, Orlando said.
"I think that reality television as a phrase ends up not doing justice to the type of work that Dr. Jessica and I do. What you really experience is a real world docudrama. You don’t have to add anything to it because it is what it is. And this is very representative of what I run into in my practice and what Dr. Jessica does in hers as well,” Orlando said.
And while things do seem to be getting a little steamy between some of the newly-paired couples based on season previews, Orlando said having the new couples make a physical connection isn't what switch therapy is aiming for.
"It’s not an excuse to have an affair," he said. "Now could they make a stupid decision and do something behind their partner’s back? Break boundaries? Cheat? Have an affair? Of course! People make decisions every day. But we’re not trying to make them do this. What we’re doing is giving them an opportunity to see what life would be like if their marriage continues to break down, if they don’t look at rebuilding their skill sets and if they're not listening to their switch partners. They may walk away with less than they started, or they may give into temptation, but that’s not the goal.”
Many of the issues the couples this season and in the past are facing are communication, honesty, transparency and effort, Orlando explained, which over the years can break down a relationship to the point of misery. What switch therapy provides is a "safe training ground to get out of their negative patterns and start using the skills they either don't have or forgot about."
And if at the end of their journey, the original couples decide they're still clashing?
“The last thing that we would want would be to attempt to reconnect a couple that’s not healthy, that's not on the same path together." Orlando said. "We are not advocates of divorce, we’re also not advocates of marriage. We're advocates of happiness and connection in relationships.”
But can Orlando and Dr. Jessica work their magic on these unhappy couples?1comments
Don't miss the season premiere of Seven Year Switch (produced by Kinetic Content) on Tuesday, July 17 at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
Photo Credit: Lifetime