Now in its fourth season, FYI breakout hit show “Married At First Sight” has made a few dramatic changes. Not only is the show being filmed in Miami, but it also casted two new onsite therapists. One of the relationship experts added to the show is local Atlanta Pastor, Calvin Roberson, of Progressive Church.

Pastor Cal, as many call him, brings a whole new perspective to the show’s marriage and relationships theme. He’s whipping Miami couples in shape and helping them understand their issues are and finding effective ways to work through them.

Finances are one of the top tier concerns of married couples. Studies conducted by the National Survey of Families and Households concluded that couples who argued – early in their relationship – about money are more likely to divorce. Well, STACKS Magazine got an opportunity to interview Pastor Cal to get his thoughts on marriage, handling money issues in the relationship, and ways to save the marriage. We also learned about Pastor Cal’s role on “Married At First Sight” and what’s up next in his career.

STACKS MAGAZINE:  Tell us more about your position on the show.

Pastor Cal: I am on Married at First Sight as the new spiritual advisor and marriage counselor.  I’m excited about this role, since it’s a continuation of what I do professionally.  I’ve been a successful pastoral marriage and family counselor for the entire duration of ministry.  On the show, I am able to talk to the individuals before they meet and find out the values, family history, etc.  We use this, as well as other scientific data, to determine compatibility among the individuals.

After we’ve matched them, then the real work begins.  I practically help them navigate through the difficulties of marrying a person who is a complete stranger, but who is also socially, spiritually and scientifically chosen just for them.

SM: Are there any issues that stand out in terms of their marriages?

PC: Of course.  Most traditional marriages are affected by challenges, but you have to remember that these individuals are marrying at first sight.  They don’t know each other from a can of paint!   Just that fact alone has its own share of issues.  Even though our matches are based on an abundance of scientific, social, psychological and spiritual data, we can’t prevent some challenges from happening.

Most of their issues revolve around the ability to communicate effectively, be honestly empathetic and be willing to share who they really are.  This is different from traditional marriages because we start with the commitment of marriage and then help the couples grow in love.  Traditional marriage does the opposite.

SM:  How do you approach giving advice? Are there steps that you take before you make marital suggestions?

PC: We are all the sum of all the experiences we have had in our lives.  Our successes, challenges, family experiences, loses, etc., all make up who we are.  So it’s vital that a person is completely vulnerable and open about their history.  This is where I begin in counseling a couple.  When they can get a clear picture of their past, whether positive or negative, it helps them to determine how and where another person can fit into their lives.

I also look closely at a person’s values.  You must be on the same page with what you believe.  This is how a couple builds a solid marriage foundation.  Values are the principles and standards that a person governs his/ her life by.  These are the intangibles that are most important to us as humans; like loyalty, commitment, spirituality, happiness, etc.  It is my job to uncover within each individual what those values are, and then match them with another person with comparable ideals.

We then have to look at emotional and social maturity and whether an individual or couple is actually ready to commit for the long term.  Are they ready to emotionally transition from thinking and living like a single person to being coupled with someone else for the long term?

SM:  How often does financial differences play a role in marriages?

PC: There are two ways to look at financial differences in marriage.  One has to do with the differences in spousal income, while the other has to do with how two people may view spending.  I have found both of these to be potential problems in marriages.  A couple must flesh out these issues before walking down the aisle.  Of course, at MAFS, we have to find out these things for our couples before they meet, through interviews and intense questionnaires.

In our male dominated society, historically it has always been customary for the husband to be the breadwinner.  However, that is not always the case as women have gained more financial power.   I believe it takes serious emotional and financial maturity for a couple think like a unit when it comes to finances, instead of individuals.

SM: What is the number one reason married couples fight over money?

PC: I spent over ten years as a NYSE registered investment broker.  I’ve counseled couples about finances repeatedly and I’ve come to the conclusion that money is seldom the problem in marriage.  Rather the problem is how a couple communicates about money.   Normally the issue in marriage has to do with the fact that someone is overspending or not making enough or something similar.  The great majority of these issues can be solved if people communicate openly and honestly about why they feel the way they do.

Now I could just be cliché and say, “Money can’t buy love.” But let’s get real.  Money truly can’t buy love, but it sure as heck can buy ‘like’.  And ‘like’ can affect whether you choose to stay with the one you love.  A couple simply has to learn how to communicate effectively about money and keep things in perspective.

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