TWC: Hey Melanie! It’s so nice to chat with you - and after this week's dramatic finale you’re the expert of the hour!
Mel: Hi Georgia, yes what an evening, and season, it was!
TWC: Can you share with us what it was like sitting on the couch watching all the drama unfold?
It was such an unpredictable process that it was genuinely surprising each week. My (perhaps overly expressive) reactions were absolutely genuine, I was totally flawed by the micro-cheating, the affair, the partner swapping and all the heightened emotion that was presented to us on the couch.
It was exciting taking a seat on the couch each week, not knowing what we were about to face. The producers gave us a brief heads-up on each couple, but mostly, it all unfolded before our eyes.
Many of those couch sessions ran for 6-10 hours so you only saw a glimpse!!
TWC: For viewers we watched all the drama of this week's finale unfold right infront of us, but how much did you know of what was going on when going in to film the last couch sesison?
Mel: We had heard rumours about the new relationships that were developing, and of course, some stories were leaked to the media, but we didn't know the extent of it until it played out before us - thus, my gob-smacked facial contortions!
TWC: Did you find it hard to respect your professional boundaries at times and lose your cool at the behaviour?
Me: It was a real balance, representing myself as an objective professional, whilst also having real, human reactions to the situations as they unfolded. At times, I wanted to shout at people 'what ARE you doing?' but had to remain in the professional role and question them from an objective perspective. Of course, you saw me get real with participants on a few occasions too...
TWC: This season has seen a significant increase in engagement and drama and of the fierce twitter army is a big part of the interactive appeal to #MAFS, but as with any social media platforms there also come trolls. Have you experienced any negative comments from people on the internet? If so how have you dealt with it ?
I have to say the social media response to my role has been overwhelmingly positive this season. Last season, I received some criticism from people who generally opposed the premise of the show, but this year I've felt very supported. This was especially evident after the last few episodes when I had the opportunity top speak on behalf of Aussie women and challenge attitudes to the boys' night and emphasize the importance of women supporting other women. This is what I'm truly passionate about and in my 'day job' I consult to organisations to help them empower and promote the high potential women in their business.
TWC: Lastly, if you had any words of advice to women who are in situations similar to some of the negative ones reflected through the show, or have experienced their partner being disrespectful or being unfaithful, what advice or food for thought would you give?
Mel: Listen to your gut - if you are getting a 'wrong' feeling, if you are doubting yourself, if your confidence is dropping or if you are questioning your choices in the relationship, ask yourself these questions:
DO I feel safe (emotionally and physically)?
Are my needs being met?
Does my partner behave in a way that is aligned with my values?
DO I like who I am when I'm with him?
Do we bring out the best in each other?
Can I honestly see us together in 5 years?
On a scale of 1 - 10, how strong is my wellbeing in this relationship?
TWC: Amazing advice Mel! And on behalf of women across Australia particularly, amazing work this season on asking the tough questions and emphasizing the importance of women sticking by eachother - as you know it's what we are all about!!
Melanie Schilling is a relationship psychologist, wife and mother, and all round champion!
Read more about Mel and her work www.melanieschilling.com