On-off lovebirds Victoria Fuller and Stefaan Nes surprised Married at First Sight NZ viewers when they unexpectedly rekindled their relationship after a tearful farewell at the vow renewal ceremony. But the Auckland couple admit watching last week's explosive reunion episode has set them back.
"Watching that was quite tricky for us," admits teacher Vicky, 27, who was shocked by fellow contestant James "Jimmy" Hardy labelling her a "slut" on camera. "
On the dinner night, I told Stefaan I overheard someone saying Jimmy called me those names, but he didn't believe it."
Vicky – who regretted ending her and Stefaan's relationship moments after it was caught on camera – was hurt when her groom proceeded to catch up with Jimmy the next day. "After watching the episode, I was like, 'I told you, babe.'"
Her pool technician beau, 26, regrets not doing more to back his bride. "It all gets twisted around and I was quite foolish keeping an open mind in being friends with everyone on the show," he says now.
"I've got no need to contact Jimmy at all and I'm disgusted in him and his comments. Why would someone say that about anyone, let alone on camera?"
Vicky is equally confused about why Jimmy – who she dated casually for a few weeks in Greece three years ago – targeted her.
"I wish he finds peace with whatever is running through his mind because it was really weird since we left Greece as friends," she says. "In Greece, we'd both really liked each other but neither of us wanted anything permanent. He made that very clear because he'd just got out of a relationship. It just kind of fizzled out."
After a month of dating away from filming the controversial Three reality show, including jet-skiing together in Taupo, the struggling couple say they arrived at the reunion dinner together feeling strong.
"It's scary that we can go away for a few weeks and come back, then within a couple of hours of talking with Jimmy and Ray, things change again," fumes Vicky.
While the couple agree on some things, like having a genuine connection, Stefaan's friendship with outspoken groom Ray Wedlake isn't one of them.
"It's a bit of an issue for us because Stefaan's still very supportive of Ray after everything," she says. "It was hard for Stefaan to acknowledge that these two people were quite negatively influencing our relationship.
"There comes a time where you have to choose being with the guys and supporting your wife – and to me, it's not a hard decision."
Stefaan is quick to defend Ray, who he dubs "very supportive as a friend".
He asserts, "Ray's not talking any rubbish about our relationship or trying to damage it. He hasn't done it in a month. Vicky's finding that hard to understand."
With a week-long trip booked to visit his family in Palmerston North over Labour Weekend, Stefaan's looking forward to clearing his head away from the drama.
"During this whole experiment, I've had no family around for quality time, since I'm in Auckland," he tells. "It's going to be really cool to fill them in on everything and be around support."
While the pair don't hide the fact their relationship is up in the air, Vicky and Stefaan are hoping they can hold on to whatever's left.
"Now we can just focus on ourselves, and what works for us, and keeping others out of our relationship," he spills. "Quite clearly it doesn't have a nice impact."
Vicky describes their MAFS journey as "bumpy".
"To watch it and talk about things as they resurface is really hard and it does shake things a bit," she confides.
"But we're giving this a shot because obviously there's this cool connection outside all the pressure and we want to see if it can blossom."
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