Mother-and-son Master Matchmakers JoAnn and Steve Ward are back for a whole new type of Tough Love. As always, Steve will be checking in with weekly commentary on each episode via this blog. Below, he talks about the show’s penultimate episode, and runs through each couple’s decision to break up or get engaged…
You split up the couples last episode in advance of their engagements/breakups. How long were they apart?
Not very long. It was 24 to 48 hours. It wasn’t very long, we just needed them to come to a conclusion on their own. It wasn’t about commiserating. Pawel and Danielle thought they were going to end the boot camp together, but not engaged.
Mario said he was still as confused this episode as he was on Day 1. What did you think of that?
I was surprised, but least he learned to be honest with her at boot camp. That’s what he needed to do to make his relationship work. I think his fears regarding marriage are very real and normal and should be expected. I don’t really fault him for that.
It was cool to see your dad on the show, too.
Yeah. I loved having my dad there. He and my mom have the pinnacle of what marriage should be. It was great to have them there to provide not only me support, but everyone else there as well. My dad has actually found a very special place in his heart for Mario. He’s taken Mario under his wing. My parents want to see these couples succeed just as much as I do. We’re a family, and their success is our success, and our success is theirs. We want to make sure these couples are going to succeed and we are going to do whatever we can to help them.
I thought it was interesting that the last challenge these couples faced mirrored the first – they were at the alter, deciding whether or not to wear their wedding apparel. It made for interesting contrasts.
Right. It was sort of like, “How far have you come? Since coming here, how has your attitude changed? How do you view your partner now? How did you view them when you first got here?” I think everybody has a different perspective.
Speaking of comparing and contrasting, let’s go through the couples and your impressions of their decisions. Larry and Heather were both dressed, just as they were on the first episode. They wound up engaged.
Right, but I think they made a tremendous amount of progress. Starting with the communication problems they had, they were unwilling to budge and compromise, and by the end they both realized what they could be doing differently in order to make the relationship stronger.
For Dustin and Courtney, the tables turned completely — he was dressed and she wasn’t, as opposed to her being dressed and him not on the first episode.
Right. You don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone. I think Dustin realized he had a good woman there. A good, chill woman that loved him and was his. His antics were jeopardizing the relationship and I think he realized how precious she was, and that’s why he went to the extent of putting on the suit.
He was shocked to see that she wasn’t in her dress.
I don’t know why. I saw it coming. I think that he thought that she had sort of an epiphany. The last time they saw each other before that, she told him, “We need to talk,” so his imagination was running wild because he had no idea if she wanted to stay together, if she wanted to break up. He put himself out on a limb. And I’m glad she didn’t get dressed, because I think he needs to realize that she’s not always going to do what he expects her to do.
The subtext of her storyline was her road to empowerment, and this seemed to be the ultimate declaration of that.
I think she’s finally come around. It’s really important that she did, because I don’t think she would have ever have had the confidence to make significant changes in her relationship if not for this experience. It’s really important that she feels that she can focus on herself as well as her relationship and get positive results. That’s really what I needed her to know and learn, and she did.
Dennis and Simone were both dressed, as they were on the first episode.
They’re good. They’re solid, they love each other. They’re ready to go. Piece of cake.
Pawel and Danielle, they were both dressed as well.
That speech that Pawel gave at the end was absolutely moving. It was heartfelt, it was emotional, it was romantic. It was absolutely shocking to me, my mom, everybody there. Danielle was truly moved by it — completely and utterly affected by it. It really goes to show how big the spoken word goes with Danielle.
It seems like their sex problem was their biggest problem. Did they resolve that during the course of the show?
No. They needed to, but they didn’t. If I were him, I would be doing everything I possibly can to make her sexually excited as possible. Despite my best efforts, I think he only took it so far. It was really kind of sad in a very humorous way.
Finally, Mario and Christina did a complete turnaround: he was dressed and she wasn’t. It was the opposite of the premiere.
They love each other to death. Yes, he’s afraid of having to be the man in the relationship and having to support their marriage, and she didn’t want him to do anything he didn’t want to do. She didn’t want anything to happen to the relationship, so she was willing to say, “I don’t need to get engaged to you, don’t worry about it.” I think that was the ultimate sacrifice. It goes without saying that she loved him. And look at him. It goes to say how much he loved her. He sacrificed his bachelorhood. They’re solid. I’m happy for those two.
Obviously the show isn’t over, but the process is. So I’m wondering for you what was the most rewarding part of this process?
Everything. It was extremely rewarding. I thought it was more rewarding than any of the other Tough Loves. You’re helping people resolve actual issues that are right in front of them. Despite what their personal issues are from their childhood or their securities or their future, to have somebody to work with, a counterpart, somebody to work off of, is extremely important and rare. I’ve come to appreciate the power of boot camp and what it can do for people. I think we have a chance to change so many people’s lives for the better, and I hope we get to do it again.
Was this your favorite out of all of them?
Yep. Each season is better than the last. And I think next season will be even better.