Marriage isn’t easy, especially when you’re on a show like Married at First Sight. For season 10 star Derek Sherman, his relationship felt particularly complicated by the fact that wife Katie Conrad’s ex showed up not long before she was set to walk down the aisle. While speaking exclusively with In Touch, he admits he felt like he and the other man were in “competition” throughout the experiment — but “there was never a time [he] was ready to give up.”

“Katie’s feelings for her ‘ex’ still played a major role in our marriage,” Derek, 26, shares. “[It was] to the point where I felt like … I was constantly being compared to him.” That fact combined with the complicated nature of their relationship meant “there were many moments that either tested [his] patience or created doubt in [his] heart,” but he was committed to seeing it through.

“Going into this, I promised myself I would blindly follow this process and drink the ‘Kool-Aid’ to see it through to the end,” he says. “I wanted to believe in the process, so I threw out any expectations I had and ignored anything my gut told me. Because at the end of the day, maybe the reason I haven’t found love yet is because I was looking for the wrong things.”

Ultimately, however, it seems the matchmakers found the perfect person for him in Katie, 25. The couple decided to stay together on Decision Day during the April 15 finale, and now Derek says his wife is pretty much exactly what he was looking for. He loves her “ability to stand her ground” — and her self-confidence is something he didn’t even realize he wanted. But that doesn’t mean their relationship doesn’t still take plenty of work.

“I believe we were matched for several reasons. Like our drive to further our careers, our adventurous spirits and our love for our families. I also believe we were paired because of our similar childhood experiences that made us both emotionally mature quicker than others, and for what I believe to be a balance between our experiences in love,” he says. “However, there are still some things I’m trying to figure out, such as her unwillingness to support me in my dreams, our varying sense of humor and our inability to not argue every other day, LOL.”

Married at First Sight Season 10 Cast Couple Jessica Studer and Austin Hurd
Victoria Vazquez

That said, he’s learned a lot about how to take on relationships, specifically the one he and Katie are continuing to build. And he’s happy to share those nuggets of wisdom: “Even if you have all the patience in the world, nothing will change unless you fully express yourself,” he says. “There shouldn’t be a day where you don’t let the other know how much you care for them or how much they mean to you. Whether it’s a simple text in the middle of the day [or] surprising them with a date that you remembered they expressed interest in during a passing conversation, every day should be seen as an opportunity for your love to grow. … No day should be wasted.”

He’s also doing his best to stay positive, or at least only speak positivity into the world. “Even if my heart is saying negative things, if my words only portray optimism, then my heart will never truly be heard.”

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