Henry Rodriguez and Christina often struggled to make a connection on Lifetime’s Married at First Sight season 11 in New Orleans. Their very different personalities sometimes put them at odds. Still, many fans thought 35-year-old Henry, a clinical recruiter, might be able to provide a helpful balance to 30-year-old Christina, a flight attendant.
With the Married at First Sight season finale approaching on October 28, Henry opened up to Showbiz Cheat Sheet exclusively about his first impressions of Christina, what pleasantly surprised him about the filming process, and which online comments he finds most offensive.
Starting the process
Q: What made you decide to get married at first sight?
I’m someone who doesn’t take a lot of risks, which I think has held me back in certain areas of my life for quite some time. Dating being one of those areas, of course. I guess part of me thought that taking a huge risk like this would make up for all the other risks I didn’t take to that point.
Also, I think the process itself has some intriguing concepts. I think a lot of us don’t always want what’s best for us, and I think an outsider’s perspective is often needed. But in order for something like this to be successful, you really need to trust the process and know what things are important to you.
Q: Was there anything about the casting process that you didn’t expect?
The casting process itself is rather intense. Sure, I figured psych evals and various questionnaires would be involved. But I was surprised by how in-depth some of those things were. It made me feel confident that they were doing their due diligence. It is incredibly time-consuming, and you have to be dedicated in order to make it through the process from beginning to end, especially knowing there’s a chance you may not get matched.
Q: How did you feel going into your wedding day?
I was actually fine! It was weird. I wasn’t that anxious or nervous about it at all. Some of my friends would jokingly check my pulse to make sure I was alive. I felt ready for the moment and prepared. However, all of that changed once I walked down the aisle and stood at the altar in front of our guests. The reality of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks.
Filming during a global pandemic
Q: What did you notice first about Christina?
Apparently, the first thing I noticed was her height. But I noticed her smile soon after that. Christina has a great smile, and it made a nice first impression. I could tell she was happy to be walking down the aisle and anxious to meet her stranger spouse.
Q: What was your biggest challenge during the eight weeks?
I’d say the pandemic was by far the biggest challenge. Your head is already all over the place while going through this experiment. You go through a number of lifestyle changes so quickly that it can be quite overwhelming, especially if things aren’t going as smoothly as you hope they would.
But then you add a pandemic on top of that, and it just makes an already crazy situation even crazier. It puts things into perspective. Suddenly I’m worried about my family and their health, their livelihoods, my job, my brother, etc. Then you also wonder a lot of those same things about a spouse you barely know, and things suddenly become a lot more difficult than they already have been. It was tough and certainly threw a wrench into things.
Q: What surprised you the most about Christina across the eight weeks?
Living with Christina was surprisingly easy. I’ve been living by myself for a bit and can be kind of OCD about things. I like certain things to be a certain way, and I don’t like the common area or the kitchen to be messy. But it wasn’t a problem at all! It was a pleasant surprise.
Also, I knew Christina dabbled in painting, but I didn’t know to what extent. But she spent a lot of time painting a planter for a friend. It was a little project of hers, and it was really cool. I was impressed! It came out great.
Q: What was it like to get to know and connect with the other castmates?
I loved most of the castmates. I thought everyone was cool in their own way. It was funny because I initially thought I’d get along most with Miles, but then Woody and I hit it off.
Woody is a great guy, and he’s hysterical. Miles and I got closer as the process went on. Bennett is a cool and insightful human. He can talk to anyone, and he’s so genuine. I could seriously go on about everyone. I plan on being friends with some of them for quite some time. All of us did something brave and put ourselves out there in a way that none of us could have ever imagined. We have a unique bond for sure!
Lessons and regrets
Q: What do you wish you’d done differently in the process?
There’s a lot I wish I would have done differently, but if I had to choose one thing, then I wish I would have been more open from the start. I bit my tongue a lot early on in an effort to not be confrontational and not hurt Christina’s feelings. But I think it’s best to just let it all out in as respectful a manner as possible.
When someone holds things in, then it leaves the other person in the dark wondering what’s really going on and obviously causes a lot of frustration. I’m now better about ripping that band-aid off and having those tough conversations. But I wish I would have been like that from the start. Live and learn, as they say.
Q: What do you wish viewers knew about you that they might not? Are there any misconceptions that fans have about you?
Oh boy, where can I begin?
Believe it or not, I do have a personality, and I do like to have fun. Uncomfortable me versus comfortable me are two different people. When people first meet me, they often think I’m really quiet, stuck-up, no fun, a buzzkill, etc. Then when I get comfortable around them, they think, “Who is this guy?” But it often takes me a little while to get there, and if I am in an uncomfortable situation, then I just unfortunately never get to that point.
I also have a really dry sense of humor that takes time to catch on to, and I am aware it isn’t ideal for television (Example: Jumping on a trampoline two feet off the ground was not the craziest thing I’ve ever done. It was sarcasm.)
Also, I’m sure anyone who has watched the show to this point has noticed my nervous facial/body tics. More specifically, it’s a nervous, OCD tic. More times than not, it is triggered when I am in an anxious situation or when I am upset or aggravated. I won’t get too detailed with its history, but I started to develop it after Hurricane Katrina. I developed a number of OCD tendencies at that time.
A lot of those tendencies have long since faded away. But for whatever reason, some of my tics and twitches have stuck around. It’s a grounding mechanism of sorts.
The comments about myself being on the spectrum are honestly hurtful and irresponsible. Not necessarily hurtful to me. But hurtful to those who may be on the spectrum or may have loved ones that actually are. Whenever I read comments about myself regarding those declarations, the comments often come across with a negative or judgmental tone. It is offensive.
I have multiple friends with siblings on the spectrum, and they are some of the coolest people I know. I know this is just a pipe dream, but people need to start getting a little more responsible with their comments online. At the very least, people need to start being a little nicer and more considerate.
Q: Is there anything the experts told you that really resonated with you?
During my recommitment discussion with Pastor Cal, he complimented me on my self-awareness but told me I need to take it to the next level by realizing what opportunities lie ahead and addressing them.
I’ve been focusing a lot of my attention on doing just that ever since we had that conversation. It was by far the most valuable piece of advice I received during my time with the process. I think it will make me a better person for both myself and my significant other.