Timothy’s MAFS Experience Is A Lesson To Anyone In A Relationship That’s Been Touched By Grief

grief timothy mafs

People love to hang shit on Married At First Sight, however, I truly believe we can all learn something from the impact of grief on Timothy Smith and Lucinda Light‘s relationship this season.

As we found out early on, 51-year-old distillery owner Timothy has experienced an unimaginable amount of loss in his life with the death of his mother and little brother 17 years ago, and then his father six weeks before he came on the show. He has no immediate family left.

Although loss in that capacity might not be immediately relatable for some, the complexity of grief and the coping mechanisms that come along with it are a familiar reality for many. As is how it can impact romantic relationships; something we’ve watched slowly unfold in Timothy and Lucinda’s relationship this season.

mafs grief timothy realtionships
Timothy told Lucinda on their wedding day that his family are “all dead”. (Image: Nine)

From the get-go, Timothy explained he’s put up walls to protect himself from getting hurt, preferring to pretend he doesn’t have a heart (just like the Tin Man). It’s played a major role in how he and Lucinda connect and progress — or stay stationary — romantically.

Although I can’t begin to speak to Timothy’s experience with loss, I can speak to my own, and walls and trust issues can be deep-rooted side effects of death.

When you think about it, losing someone you love is the worst pain you will ever experience.

This can make it hard to get close to others for several reasons: out of fear you’ll lose them too, that they’ll never really truly understand your loss and how you cope with it, or that you can’t trust them with your new vulnerabilities or sometimes locked-away emotions.

“[I’m] 51 years old and I’ve never really let anyone in,” Timothy revealed in MAFS Episode 28.

These fears of bringing someone into the folds of your life can build walls and also really impact a relationship’s speed, so it really should come as no surprise that Timothy and Lucinda’s relationship has been moving slowly because of it.

Timothy has said consistently throughout the experiment that he is “a slow burn” who builds relationships on a foundation of friendship first, which, if you think about how he might need to establish trust based on his grief, makes a lot of sense.

This could also be why he can get frustrated — or in his words, “pissed off” — when there is even a glimmer of a chance that Lucinda could hurt him. When he felt like she threw him under the bus at a MAFS Commitment Ceremony, it was like three steps back for their relationship progression to date.

Timothy was pissed off that Lucinda wasn’t on his team when talking to the MAFS experts. (Image: Nine)

When Lucinda was able to take that on board and back him at the next dinner party, you could see them grow closer based on this display of trust and loyalty and that his walls were starting to come down in this relationship.

It even made room for a vulnerable and raw conversation between the pair during Episode 22 at the couples retreat. “Losing the family, the biggest thing I lost was myself,” Timothy told her before breaking into tears, walking out, and returning to her for a long embrace that didn’t need any words.

timothy grief mafs
Timothy opened up to Lucinda after she established his trust, bringing them closer together. (Image: Nine)

An interesting emotion to note from this conversation was that Timothy felt he “lost” himself. This too effects relationships — a loss of identity that’s (ironically) born from grief.

How do you figure out who you are without someone, when they’ve been there for so much of your life, and you imagined them being there for your future as well? Timothy has had that times three, and when so much of your sense of self is tied to your family, it would be incredibly destabilising to have no one left.

And how do you put your best foot forward in a relationship when you don’t even know who you are?

While MAFS is undoubtedly a controversial show, I do believe that Timothy appears to be establishing a new identity for himself through this process; one that Lucinda’s allowing him to find, as slow or as fast as that may take.

In a weird way, the show has been an important obstacle course for Timothy to push through relationship hurdles (with both himself and Lucinda) that he would’ve otherwise had the opportunity to avoid.

Timothy told Lucinda he lost himself when he lost his family. (Image: Nine).

Take Episode 28 after Lucinda and Timothy kissed for the first time, for example, where Timothy excused himself from the dinner table and broke down.

Getting hit with a wave of grief is something that can happen at the most inconvenient or unusual times after someone’s experienced a loss.

“i don’t know what it is. I just can’t hold myself together,” Timothy cried.

He revealed that he is starting to see life differently after being vulnerable and trusting Lucinda to get close to him.

“Being around Lucinda I can see, maybe there’s a better way to live,” Timothy explained.

“I wish I’d come into this with a more open heart, ready to be matched with a person like Lucinda.”

“I realised that this whole time, I’ve been wasting time just being angry and closed off. I judge everybody else. But I’m the most broken out of everybody,” he continued.

Lucinda came to find Timothy after he didn’t return to the dinner party table. (Image: Nine).

For anyone grieving while watching at home, I think it’s been an important yet painful lesson that loss creeps up at unexpected times and in unexpected ways.

Whether it’s 17 years later or six weeks later, grief’s not moving on once it’s all grown up — that fucker is with you for life. A third wheel you never asked for.

But I think the greatest lesson of all is the one we can learn from Lucinda. She has shown up time and time again when there are others who would’ve put grievers in a too-hard basket long ago.

And while there are no right words to take the pain away, sometimes patience on the receiving end is all we need.

Chantelle Schmidt is a freelance writer. Follow her on Instagram.

If you need mental health support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.