Some Married at First Sight fans were surprised to see Katie Conrad decide to stay with Derek Sherman on Decision Day. While speaking exclusively with In Touch after the April 15 finale, the reality TV bride admits she found their marriage “difficult for [her] to be happy in” at first — and that it took a lot of “patience” to come around.

“Initially, I didn’t feel like Derek’s traits were what I was looking for or wanted in a partner,” Katie, 25, says. Though Derek, 26, “fit the mold of what [she] said [she] preferred physically,” the emotional connection was harder to forge. “Not only [did he have] traits I didn’t want or like, I obviously didn’t have the opportunity to grow to like them before committing to marriage.”

Married at First Sight Stars Derek and Katie Embracing
Daniel Dorsa

Though she was resolved not to quit before the end of the experiment, there were moments where she felt tested by the situation the matchmakers had put her in. “There were several times during the experiment where I just felt like our personalities and relationship needs were clashing and it wasn’t going to work,” she confesses. “In the beginning, I feel like we approached the experiment as a team and both wanted the ideal outcome — to stay married and be in love. But as we started to see that becoming more and more unlikely, we stopped being teammates along the way, which only added friction to the marriage.”

It didn’t help that the couple’s marriage was complicated by Katie’s ex coming back into the picture right before she was set to walk down the aisle. In a previous interview, Derek told In Touch he felt like he was in “competition” with the other man. “Katie’s feelings for her ‘ex’ still played a major role in our marriage,” he shared. “[It was] to the point where I felt like … I was constantly being compared to him.”

Eventually, they managed to make things work, though Derek emphasizes things still aren’t perfect, citing “her unwillingness to support [him] in [his] dreams, [their] varying sense of humor and [their] inability to not argue every other day” as ongoing issues. Despite that, they’re putting in the work in the meantime. “Patience in all things is key, but especially when it comes to matters of the heart,” Katie says. “On paper, or initially, you might think you’re compatible with someone, but it takes more time to really figure that out.”

Married at First Sight airs on Lifetime Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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