He may have thought he was ready to tie the knot, but Married at First Sight star Zach Justice admits he “underestimated” what he was signing up for. While speaking exclusively to In Touch ahead of the April 22 reunion, he opened up about what went wrong in his marriage. Confessing he “was in over [his] head” when it came to his relationship with wife Mindy Shiben, he thinks they got off to a bad start from day one.

“Without having any sort of connection with Mindy, I struggled to attach any emotional meaning to the words ‘marriage’ and ‘wife,’” Zach, 32, says. “Traditionally, those words are filled with an individual you would have envisioned yourself with. … I clearly underestimated the difference between a traditional marriage with growth in a chosen partner versus an assigned partner. That proved to be the challenge.”

Mindy Shiben and Zach Justice on Married at First Sight Season 10
Daniel Dorsa; Lifetime

On paper, he agrees that he and Mindy, 34, looked like a good match — and he understands why the matchmakers paired them together. “I honestly think the experts did what they could in creating a genuine match with the pool of women they had to choose from,” he says. “[But] there’s still so much that is out of their control after the fact, such as connection and chemistry.”

The star and his wife struggled to form a bond throughout the experiment. Though some of the other couples approached the experiment as a team, the reality TV groom says he and his bride had a hard time working together. “It was clear we had different approaches to this experiment,” he says. “Mindy loved the idea of marriage and a lifelong relationship. I, on the other hand, can’t fully imagine that same idea unless I have someone I trust and connect with to attach it to.”

He simply couldn’t overcome the hurdle of knowing that his wife had previously been a stranger rather than someone he’d shared a history with. But Zach doesn’t think the fact that things didn’t work out with Mindy is reflective of his readiness for marriage in general. “I still have no doubt in my mind that I am ready for marriage and that chapter in my life,” he continues. Regardless of the circumstances, he’s learned there are two “fundamental qualities” you need to make a relationship work: “transparency and communication.”

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