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Recap: Marriage Boot Camp, The ‘Forgiveness’ Edition

jim-and-elizabeth-carroll-wetv-marriage-boot-camp
Jim and Elizabeth Carroll from Marriage Boot Camp

Okay, I’ve gotta tell the truth. I was pretty bored with “Marriage Boot Camp” on WEtv this week until the end when they showed the teasers for the next episode. Sadly, I have to admit that the weekly doses of screaming and yelling, physical altercations, and just plain old nasty have kept me entertained. But this week wasn’t funny and nobody freaked out and nobody hit anybody else. I was bumming.

I’ve realized what the problem is. That damned “Marriage Boot Camp” therapy (half of which I imagine we don’t ever see since most of the footage never makes it onto the actual show) is starting to work for some of these couples. Boo hiss! Not really. I’d like to see most of these marriages survive. And according to the statistics of the success rate of the established Marriage Boot Camp (yes, it’s a real, 20-year-old program run by the same people you’re watching on the show – Jim and Elizabeth Carroll), it’s entirely possible.

I’m fascinated by this whole show, and intrigued by the program directors. So I did my homework for this blog and found out some fascinating stuff. The real boot camp was finding such high success rates with their previous clients that they became “suspicious” and wanted to confirm if they were actually accomplishing as much as it appeared. Guess what? They are.

Jim and Elizabeth Carroll decided to launch a two-year longitudinal study to follow 60 couples who came into the real program ready to divorce to see if, once the “Marriage Boot Camp-effect” wore off, they would actually stay together. Surprisingly, the research came back to show that 80 percent of the 60 couples were still actually “happily” married. Traditional marriage counseling ONLY boasts a 20 percent success rate. That’s a significant number.

So now I know why WEtv’s “Marriage Boot Camp” was so deep but not so dramatic last Friday – it’s because all of these couples are having their own breakthroughs of one kind or another with each other. If they hadn’t shown us that it’s going to get ugly again in the final two episodes, I might have been disappointed. We also have the reunion to look forward to and I heard last week that it’s gonna be verrrry interesting. But onward to my recap.

Last Friday’s episode began with a “Forgiveness” exercise for all of the couples.

“When you don’t forgive, you’re blocking growth for yourself,” the director, Jim, explains at the beginning. It was fascinating to see WHO each camper felt they needed to forgive and what dirty laundry got exposed during this. What was interesting was that during interview, most of the campers expressed more shock than snark at what they had learned.

Gloria needed to forgive her father. It turns out that she’s never met him. He’s always known she existed, but he never stepped up to the plate and acknowledged her existence or contacted her. This is very revealing.

“You did this to me,” Gloria screams at Jim, who is standing in place of her father. “I wouldn’t have to find validation in men or put up such a hard wall” if her father had been around to love her and make her feel like she mattered. She forgave him so that she can stop holding a grudge against her own husband for the things her father did to her.

Mark has daddy issues too, but he’s not ready to forgive. He knew his father, but his dad wasn’t in his life and would say he was coming over to pick him up and never show. You could just imagine Mark as a little boy sitting on the porch with a stuffed animal waiting for the father that would never appear. It was heartbreaking to listen to. His father never put any time or effort into his first-born son.

The directors convinced Mark to call his father right then and there, but when he got voicemail, he didn’t leave a message. He couldn’t. You could see he wanted to do it just to make Gloria and everybody else happy, but he’s not ready to be the one to open that door all the way. Just dialing the phone hurt him. Anybody else want to bet that he doesn’t have his father listed as “Dad” in his phone directory?

Tomas has daddy issues too (is anybody else seeing a theme here? Fathers of the world need to start stepping up to the fucking plate because they are killing their children from the inside out) and they don’t sound that different from Mark’s, even though the details are different.

“You divorced my mother and started a new family,” Tomas says.

Sofia and Shaun were a little weird to watch because they both need to forgive HIS ex-girlfriend.

Sofia says she’s been blaming everything on the ex and giving her all the power in their relationship. I thought it was weird that she actually apologized to her. I think Sofia apologizes to everybody because she never wants anybody angry with her. So even as she’s trying to forgive the ex for her evil-doings, she’s taking blame that I personally don’t think she needed to own.

“I’m sick of thinking about you and blaming it on you when it was really me,” Sofia says. Say what?

Shaun also needs to forgive his ex-girlfriend because she’s the reason he hasn’t treated Sofia the way she deserves to be treated. I sorta agreed with him when he said that a part of him doesn’t want to “forgive” her, but he realizes that he needs to do it to move past that old relationship and build a new healthy one with his wife.

Interestingly, it seems like mostly the ex destroyed Shaun’s self-esteem. “You called me ugly,” he complains, truly hurt.

While Shaun is not my cup of tea, he is certainly not ugly. There are women (and some men) gushing about this guy on Twitter and he’s got a serious bod so it’s hard to believe that his ex completely messed up his head by not thinking he was attractive enough. I think that problem has to go back farther and deeper than his previous relationship. But it was a good step in the right direction.

Blanca and Julian were the bombshell of the night, with Blanca admitting that she needs to forgive the “old Julian” in order for her marriage to survive. Turns out that Julian was a bit of a man-whore before the two of them actually tied the knot. He really fucked with her head good, and Blanca blames him 100 percent.

“I haven’t fully forgiven the old Julian. Nobody has ever hurt me like that. Nobody,”
Blanca says. “I feel like he should be kissing my ass every moment of my life to make up for what he has done before.”

Unlike all the other couples, Blanca was actually facing off with the real person who had hurt her and it was fascinating to watch how well Julian stood there, took it, and owned it. He really loves her.

“You lied to me all the time. You cheated on me…. It really destroyed me.” Blanca says. “I’m starting to realize that I can’t forgive you.” Uh oh. You have to forgive him or you can’t stay married much longer Blanca. You’re obviously miserable and you’re going to make sure Julian is as unhappy as you as long as you’re together.

Later, in private after the exercise, they continue to discuss forgiveness. “You are a big cause of how I am. You created a monster within me,” Blanca blames Julian. She wants to know WHY he cheated on her.

“I was being selfish… Just forgive me please,” Julian asks her more than once. He really wants to get past this. When she won’t, he changes his tune a little bit.

“I know what his is about… you regretting marrying me.” He says he loses his temper because he always has to be accountable but “nobody else” has to be. Wonder who that “nobody else” is… ahem, Blanca.

Bottom line, if you plan to punish the guy for the rest of your lives, just end it. Or sign up for more off-camera Marriage Boot Camp because I think he really loves you and you really love Julian. You just can’t forgive him.

Jeff REALLY hates his ex, and there is some story behind that because he talks about how he saved her and her child and then she fucked him over. I got the impression he felt very used. Was it a mail order bride? What’s the real skinny on this guy? Inquiring minds want to know but don’t want to have to spend five hours on Google digging up public divorce records to figure it out.

“After you, I said I’m not going to let any woman get in here,” Jeff talks about closing off his heart after his ex broke it. And he’s sobbing. Jim has Jeff give his heart into Tasha’s hands and the two of them bawl together. I thought it was cheesy. #sorrynotsorry

Gloria was funny in interview. “I didn’t know Jeff had tear ducts.”

But seriously folks, this guys is so damaged from so many angles. I’m still trying to figure out if he spent any personal time locked up in a closet as a child and if all that stuff about what he saw as a cop wasn’t actually more his own childhood than work. I’m still saying PTSD but maybe it goes all the way back before he went into law enforcement.

Mai-Lee got cheated on before Tomas was in her life, but now she punishes Tomas for her insecurities from then. She doesn’t think she knows how to forgive, and it makes me sad for her because she seems like a genuinely good person who has been deeply hurt. However, she can’t keep kicking the shit out of Tomas for things he didn’t do.

Mai-Lee picks fights. “She will bring up something that I did six years ago,” Tomas explains. He wants her to learn to forgive him too.

“I can’t do it.” Mai-Lee doubts her ability to learn to forgive and doesn’t realize it’s a capacity we all have if we try to use it.

“If you can’t learn to forgive you will eventually drive your husband away,” Elizabeth says. I feel like Tomas has a lose-lose situation if he’s in trouble for stuff somebody else did. It’s a little like Sofia and Shaun actually, except Tomas isn’t all worried about Mai-Lee’s ex.

Mai-Lee and Tomas had a one-on-one therapy session with the directors after the exercise.

“Your behavior in life is not normal,” Jim tells Mai-Lee. That’s gotta be hard to hear, and I get the impression that’s also hard for Jim to tell her so bluntly. But she needs to hear it because any small thing Tomas does triggers memories and she brings up the past and they fight.

“It’s going to be hard to forgive him for everything, it’s a really long list” Mai-Lee says, her first concession that she could maybe learn to forgive.

“It’s dumb stuff,” Tomas finally defends himself. And we find out when they’re talking privately that Mai-Lee is seriously still pissed at him for things he did six years ago like not bring her ice cream or chicken nuggets when she really wanted them. Sorry, Mai-Lee. Tomas is right. It is REALLY DUMB STUFF.

“Let the other girls go crazy and you be the strong one this time,” Jim advises her.

“This is not happening overnight,” Mai-Lee warns, but I think she’s going to make an effort. Just not in the next exercise. #busted

The night exercise was meant to be dramatic but was just kinda lame, in my opinion. Sometimes things you think will look good on TV don’t actually turn out right in the edit suite, or at least I hope that’s what happened here. Because most of the wives were more afraid to jump than lose their spouses. I honestly think Sofia might have been the only one who really felt what she was supposed to during it.

So the scenario was that your house is on fire and only one of you can jump and survive, who will it be? Okay, stop right there. Why can’t they both jump? I don’t get it. Bring back the Titanic exercise from Season One. I think that made more sense and that was sorta dumb too.

There’s no reason to leave anybody behind in a burning building. The firemen won’t make you pick which of you gets to jump. Dumb dumb dumb. Sorry to whoever designed it, but I was like “say what???”

I believe most of these exercises are based on the therapy done in the real Marriage Boot Camp but jazzed up to be more interesting on television. Usually I appreciate the effort, I just thought the premise of this one was stupid. I’d have dragged my husband along with me on the jump. Why didn’t that occur to any of them? Who says he has to stay and die?

Bad logistics and storyline aside,     I meant it when I said Sofia got it. Not everybody admired Sofia’s love and loyalty though.

“I think Sofia definitely would rather just die with him,” Blanca snarks.

“That’s true love,” Julian replies.

“No, it’s not – that’s committing suicide,” Blanca says. Sorry Blanca, you’re wrong. I would rather die with my husband than leave him behind in a burning building. Time to think about somebody other than yourself. The narcissism is painful to watch.

Mai-Lee is, admittedly, a wimp. She’s tried to get out of paintball and other stuff before and Gloria isn’t having it. When Mai-Lee tells Tomas he should jump, everybody knows that Mai-Lee isn’t trying to save her husband, she’s just trying to get out of jumping two stories into the firemen’s airbag. And Jim and Elizabeth totally bust her out for it.

So does Gloria. “Go ahead and let her ass die – she’s too complicated. She’s going to burn everybody up.”

Any doubt we had that Mai-Lee’s offer to let Tomas live was altruistic was shot when she began repeating the phrase “it’s like bounce house” to herself over and over to get up the nerve to jump. And when she landed, she was already bitching again.

“Are you okay?” Sofia asks her when Mai-Lee gets up.

“Yeah, I just about died.” No Mai-Lee, you’re not paying attention to the exercise. Tomas DID just die FOR YOU. OMG would somebody slap some sense into her. She just isn’t getting this.

The rest were less dramatic. Jeff tells Tasha to do it for their daughter Dallas and she jumps. Blanca finally forgives Julian before jumping, but we all know that’s a load of hooey and he’s going to be in just as much trouble the next morning if her breakfast isn’t delivered on time.

Gloria tells Mark to jump. She claims she doesn’t want to see another child without a father. But it’s not about the kids. It’s about her. “Losing another husband would be too much,” she says. But what about her four kids who already lost their dad? Then they would be alone. I think she’s just all confused.

Kindly, before jumping, Gloria tells Mark “You’re not worthless.” Aww. Ugh.

Evaluations were short and sweet. Mai-Lee has learned it’s possible to forgive even if she hasn’t actually tried it yet. Jeff actually has feelings. And tear ducts. Sofia and Shaun worked together. Julian was a champ at letting Blanca work through her issues by beating the crap out of him verbally. And Gloria is getting more real, although she’s still a #MeanGirl about everybody else.

Next week shows things heating up again, and the teasers for the new season of “Celebrity Marriage Boot Camp” make the stars look much more badly behaved than this season’s campers. Apparently stars don’t like playing by the rules.  I wonder why the hell they signed up for “Marriage Boot Camp?” Several of them aren’t even married. But they sure fight like they are!


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