Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik
Making The Switch To "Dr. Pepper"
In the longstanding war between Coke and Pepsi, it might be Dr. Pepper who actually holds the key to finally settling this dispute -- Dr. Pepper Schwartz, that is.
No doubt, Dr. Pepper is qualified for the challenge given her highly regarded “sociology” and “sexology” careers, her widely-respected teaching reputation at the University of Washington and her numerous books, articles, and columns written, not excluding a fantastic “relationships” blog in AARP Magazine.
Dr. Pepper’s newest role at the hit television series, Married At First Sight, definitely tests every aspect of Dr. Pepper’s professional experience, personal insight, and esteemed education -- a BA and an MA from Washington University in St. Louis (where she was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow) and an MA and PhD in Sociology from Yale University. You go girl! And go she will, as Dr. Pepper spends countless hours devoted to providing the best possible outcomes for the couples participating in the series.
From conception to final decision, Dr. Pepper shepherds, educates, advises, and conjoles the young men and women who stumble from fantasy to reality throughout each episode and every season. And as the outcomes vary from couple-to-couple one thing remains the same every time, “Everyone falls in love with Dr. Pepper!” And so will you upon reading her interview below.
Have fun getting to know Dr. Pepper and Married At First Sight more intricately than ever before. The combination makes for “great television” that seconds as a wonderful “bonding” opportunity for you and your teenager. My own sixteen year-old and I watch the series together! We’ve had some incredible and worthwhile conversations about marriage and relationships as a result.
In The Words Of Dr. Pepper Schwartz:
What is your name and explain your role in association with the "Married At First Sight" series. Please also give a brief description of your personal marriage history.
My name is Pepper Schwartz and I am the Sociologist expert on the show. I have a "rich" personal marital history. I have been married two times (once for a year; once for 23 years). I am getting married again next year. (Fred and I will have been together ten years at that point.)
Dr. Pepper, are you optimistic about the continued tradition of marriage within our society? What do you see as the largest hindrance today for individuals as they struggle to find a suitable mate? What do you see as the largest hindrance for married couples trying to hold it together?
I am optimistic about love and I still think that marriage (same or opposite sex) is the most ambitious way you can show love. There are, however, obstacles to a lifetime marriage (or even a long one) to be sure.
The biggest problem is “unrealistic expectations” coupled with an “inflated” sense of one's own entitlements. No one seems to be good enough for many young people nor does any sacrifice or self-searching seem to happen when it should be part of any commitment to a life-time partnership.
I also feel that people have mistaken superficial features (height, panache, profession, hobbies) for the essential ones (character, integrity, humor, flexibility, diligence, kindness, etc). If couples have these essential characteristics, almost any marriage should work -- but working at it is required because, however good each person is, they will fail in some parts of their lives and make bad choices or say the wrong thing. Thus forgiveness and resilience also have to be part of the package.
Dr. Pepper, what is the first phrase out of your mouth every time you meet a new cast member?
I want to know why they are interested in marriage, and specifically, what brought them to this interview -- to be married in this unusual way; that is, to be married at “first sight.” Then I want to know what has kept them from marriage up to this point?
Who was your favorite couple, to-date, on the show? Who was your biggest challenge?
No question...my favorite couple is “Jamie and Doug.” I felt they both grew as people and helped each other so much. Doug impressed me with his compassion, patience, and good humor. Jamie impressed me with her determination to go through the process, to re-examine her own beliefs and feelings, and to let down her guard. I loved that when she “attached,” she was "all in."
The biggest challenge was “Jessica and Ryan.” I was upset that neither of them could really listen to the other; neither could back off and ask each other why they felt a certain way; neither knew a way to “de-escalate” an argument and get “unstuck” from loops of accusation and disappointment.
Ryan's anger was famously ugly and contemptuous. Jessica did not deserve this (no one does) but she could also be “passive-aggressive” -- not stating directly what was bothering her (dropping hints of disapproval but not directly saying what bothered her or finding a way to fix it). For example, she was rightly “non-plused” when Ryan, unilaterally, assigned himself “closet space” and gave her “drawers.” Her face gave away her feelings and she complained a bit but what she needed to do was to say that she'd rather split drawer space and closet space or, at least, mutually figure out a solution. That said, Ryan was very immature right from the start -- dumping the kayak twice during the honeymoon period just because he could (just because he was feeling snarky...no matter how it affected Jessica). If he thought it was "funny"...it was supposed to be funny.
Both these people have lovely aspects to them. Jessica has a loving, fun, sweet, and devoted side to her. Ryan wants to do the right thing and has the ability to be devoted to his family and friends. They both are handsome, sensual people who connected on that basis and could have built on it. We offered them therapy many times and if they had taken it - individually and together - I think, they both could have changed and grown.
Dr. Pepper, do you see the trend of “getting married later” in society as a good or bad thing?
It so depends on the people. “Jason and Cortney” were young but really worked at their relationship. They helped each other get through the tough times. I don't think they were too young, but in general, I think it’s better in your early thirties -- when you have a better sense of who you are, what you want and, perhaps, are a bit more willing to change, compromise, and forgive.
What was some of the best advice your own parents gave you about marriage which you will pass along to your children?
What I have said to my children - who are both getting married this Summer and Fall - is what my parents said to me, “Marry someone who is going in the same direction you are. Love, values, and goals are like dominoes. When one falls, they all fall or they stand strong because they reinforce each other.” I also follow my parents example. They had a pretty sexy relationship for people of their generation. I knew I wanted that too and I want my kids to create that bond with their partners. It smooths over a lot of bumps in the road.
Everyone has a mantra - a phrase they wake to of which guides them through their lives? What is yours?
It’s a bit like Garrison Keeler's mantra, “Be a good person; take care of the people you love; challenge yourself; and enjoy life to the fullest."
At the end of your life, what do you want to be most remembered for?
I am at the front of the “Baby Boom” and as a woman of that period, each decade of my life seems to have been an experiment. I am proud of the work I have done, creating new knowledge and permissions about sex and love. I hope my work - written and spoken - has helped people understand themselves and their relationships better, feel entitled to their choices and, subsequently, be happier with their lives.
I feel that I am still in the vanguard of my “life” as I move into the decades that were written off for women (and men) as "old age." My generation wants to dump that frame and put in a new picture -- a picture of continued excitement, with horizons that offer new opportunities for personal accomplishment, self knowledge, family, joy, and romantic love.
I hope that I live actively and productively in each decade to come and that each decade continues to be amazing on all levels. I want to be remembered as someone who helped others savor their lives, embrace pleasure, build love, and, not inconsequentially, had just one hell of a lot of fun and satisfaction in “living” along the way.
Do you have a social cause or cause-based organization that you are either formally or informally connected to? Please name and explain your reason for adopting this concern.
I have several causes. One is Planned Parenthood, where I am a past board member. Another is “Sex Education.” I am a past board member of SIECUS and a present board member of the “Program in Sexual Studies” at the University of Minnesota and also Chairperson of the advisory board at the “Institute for Integral Studies” in San Francisco. I support the right to “love and marry” for all citizens. I testified in the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” trial in Federal Court and in the Hawaii “Gay Marriage” trial. I have started a fellowship in my name in the Sociology Department of the University of Washington to help fund graduate students who want to do research on sexuality and/or intimate relationships.
I support equal justice and equal opportunity for all people. I support many women's rights groups and I also support the global work of PATH, an organization (funded by the Gates Foundation) that is concerned in bettering world health -- particularly women's sexual rights, reproductive rights, the eradication of diseases like AIDS, and also the control and elimination of diseases that stem from abject poverty.
Finally, I support several environmental groups and global “wildlife” funds. I cannot bear to see the “inhumane treatment” of domestic animals, particularly dogs, cats, and horses. I also support our local “no-kill” humane society. I live on a horse ranch with my three dogs and horses, located about an hour outside of Seattle. "Nature" is extremely important to my sense of well-being and while I cannot be active in all the things that I feel deeply about, I do try to be as supportive as possible.
With all of the questions that I asked of Dr. Pepper, it seems that I left one of the most important ones unanswered, that being..."When the heck does Dr. Pepper sleep?" Thankfully, the demands of Married At First Sight arrived just in time to mitigate any boredom that might have crept into Dr. Pepper's schedule and life. Geez!
You are "amazing," Dr. Pepper, in every sense of the word. The fact that you bare the same name as my favorite soda pop makes me love you even more. As you noted previously, "It is the simple things in life (and relationships) that are the most meaningful!" No exception here.
I'm a "Dr. Pepper" fan...all the way! And I appreciate her taking the time to expand upon her life and work through this interview and in relationship to one of my favorite shows, currently, Married At First Sight.
Thank you to Dr. Pepper Schwartz and Kinetic Content for making this interview possible.