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IT’S been labelled the ultimate “car crash” of relationship television, but that hasn’t stopped more than 1000 desperate couples from putting their hands up for the next season of Seven Year Switch.
The “controversial” and “real life” experiment, which premiered on Channel 7 in March, saw long-term couples on the brink of a breakup trying to work out very deep-seated relationship issues on a television show.
The controversial side of the experiment was the “hall-pass” idea of couples switching partners to experience living alongside someone with similar personality traits.
Channel 7 last night aired the reunion episode of Seven Year Switch, which unveiled the status of each couple since the series concluded five months ago.
Considering the troubled state of the relationships that entered the show, the success rate was surprisingly high.
Of the four couples to take part, three decided to stay together. Of those giving their relationship another crack, two couples announced they are expecting.
With a 75 per cent strike rate of fixing what was thought to be the unfixable, the next instalment of the series has already received double the applications the first round received.
Clinical psychologist Jo Lamble, who has been happily married for 25 years and is one of the two counsellors on the series, said she was surprised at just how many couples were willing to try and save their relationship on national TV.
“They have been inundated (with applications),” she told AAP.
“They had more than 500 the first time, and you’d think after people had watched it they would say ‘no I don’t want to do that’ and yet they’ve had far more.
“I get the impression from the number of people applying, and certainly from what I’ve found from all my clients, they all want to talk about it.
“I’ll say to my clients, ‘Let’s just talk about your stuff’ and they’ll say, ‘Let’s spend some time on this’. They want to discuss and learn from it.
“People want to see these issues discussed and they relate to the issues.”
Sexologist and relationship expert Nikki Goldstein said while she was pleased to see the couples work out their differences, she would be very interested to see how they were all coping now the spotlight was off their relationships.
“If there’s a problem with your relationship, I don’t think a public platform is the most successful way of fixing it,” she told news.com.au.
“I questions the happiness of each couple, and I do believe there is an element of fame keeping them together.
“This show is an experiment, and it’s not a proven theoretical solution.”
Dr Goldstein said while the show had received an increased number of applications for the next series, she questioned the genuine motives behind the couples who wanted to take part in the experiment.
“When you’re in a long-term relationship, often you wonder what the grass is like on the other side, which is completely natural, especially if you haven’t had a lot of partners,” she said.
“In life, you can’t have a ‘hall-pass’ to go out and be with other people for a few months, but this experiment is a legal way to get that hall-pass.
“Couples who are keen to see what it’s like to live or be with someone else can do that, and this show is a way of seeing what the grass is like on the other side in a controlled environment. My concern is that it then goes on TV, so there is an entertainment motive behind it all.”
While Dr Goldstein admitted she was “surprised” by some of the couples deciding to stay together, she said our movement towards wanting to “air dirty laundry in public” may also be a big motivator for some people to apply for the show.
“There is a fame motivation, and we are following in America’s footsteps who are very good at airing their dirty laundry in public,” she said.
“When people are encouraged to air that for fame, I think that can be a big motivator for some couples to apply for something like this.”
The “pressure to stay together” post-show may also have a negative affect on the couples, with many seeing a breakup as a failure — which isn’t the case.
“I was really shocked by some of the couples who decided to stay together,” Dr Goldstein said.
“I just question what the pressure is like to stay in a relationship after a show like this. They need to realise that breaking up isn’t a failure, it’s a success if they can realise and acknowledge the harm they are doing to each other.
“When you put your relationship into the public platform, there is pressure to make it last, and after the reunion screening there would be pressure to give it a good crack.”
So for couples who have their hearts set on taking part in next season of the Seven Year Switch, Dr Goldstein said the success of the couples from season one shouldn’t overshadow the entertainment motives behind the series.
“TV shows are not created with the intent to solve problems worldwide, they are created for entertainment and people need to realise that,” she said.
“Take the public fame out of it, and look at it from a relationship point-of-view first.
“This show wasn’t made because someone woke up wanting to fix a problem, they have made it because it will make good viewing.
“No one will look after your relationship better than you will.”
News.com.au contacted Channel 7 for comment from the contestants.