From McAlester News:
A local family hits the big time on network TV but wonders if it was worth it
By JAMES BEATY, senior editor
Haileyville resident Melissa Bedford is back home after spending two weeks on the West Coast participating in the new ABC reality television show "Wife Swap."
Bedford said she had a nice time in Seattle, where she traveled for her part of the swap.
However, the experience proved much different for her husband and three sons back in Haileyville.
"It was our worst nightmare," Bedford said.
Bedford understood that the premise of "Wife Swap" called for two wives to switch places with the other's family for two weeks, each traveling to a secret location.
During the second week, the new "mother" gets to set the rules for the husband and the children of the household where she is visiting.
A television crew and field producer stays with each family, capturing the visits for television.
Bedford and her husband, Jeffrey Bedford, have three children: Warner, Jacob and Kane Bedford, who are ages 11, 10 and 4, respectively. They agreed to do the show, but they didn't know what to expect.
They also didn't suspect that "Wife Swap" had a surprise in store for them.
Melissa Bedford said no one told her that the other couple involved in the switch this time consisted of two homosexual men.
She didn't find out until she arrived in Seattle.
Her husband, back in Haileyville, didn't find out until the other man walked into the family's home.
"My husband said he didn't get a wife in no way, shape or form," Bedford said.
She said her husband tried to call off the show once he found out what had happened.
"They said they would sue him and put me out on the street and not tell him where I was," Bedford said. "He didn't sleep for three days."
Bedford said the experience proved so traumatic to her husband that he had to get medical treatment to get through it.
They took him to the doctor and got him a prescription," she said. "The doctor said he had never seen a patient with so much tension."
Bedford said her husband accepted the situation somewhat better after he was told that his wife had been contacted.
"They said they had contacted me and I was happy and having fun," Bedford said.
However, Bedford said nobody from the show ever contacted her. Her husband still had no idea where she had been sent, so he could not reach her himself.
"I asked them later why they had lied to him?" Bedford said. She said she was told the "main office" had told the show's people in Haileyville that she was okay and there had been a misunderstanding.
Bedford said she had been promised she would be contacted if any member of her family became sick - but no one told her about her husband's condition.
She said her husband needed a lot of support to get through the experience.
"He had support from his parents, my parents and the church," she said. Bedford said they all wanted to make sure she got back home safely.
Bedford thinks the episode with her family might air in March or April. When it does, she doesn't expect it to be fair.
"I feel like they will try to portray my husband as a lazy bum," she said.
Bedford said her husband is a student at Eastern Oklahoma State College, who missed college classes because the television crew wanted the time to shoot the "Wife Swap" episode.
"They told my husband they had contacted Eastern and Eastern was all right with it," Bedford said. That didn't prove to be the case though, she said.
"When my husband went back, one of the instructors had dropped him from his class." Bedford said Eastern officials told her that no one from the television program had contacted the college. Her husband eventually got reinstated.
"We're not too happy with it," Bedford said.
The male couple at the home Bedford visited in Seattle is raising two daughters, one who is 13 and one who is 18, she said..
"It was a pretty good experience for me," Bedford said.
"I got to do a lot of mother-daughter things I never get to do," she said. "I got to experience what it's like to have teenage girls in the house."
Bedford noticed another difference in her family and the other one.
"They were wealthier than we are," Bedford said.
Asked what she did with the man in the other family in Seattle, Bedford said "We went to dinner a few times, but mainly it was me and the girls."
Bedford said she talked to the girls about abstinence and she gave them pledge cards to sign. She said she didn't ask the girls to make their decision in front of her.
"I told them that was between them and God - not between them and me," she said.
Back in Oklahoma, the television crew filmed part of one segment in McAlester, showing a workout session at Dave's Fitness Plus.
Did the Bedfords at least get a big paycheck out of the experience? On the similar "Trading Spouses" show on the Fox network, the head of one family gets to decide how the other can spend $50,000.
"We didn't get no money," Bedford said. She said the show did pay her for the two weeks she had to be off work at The Medicine Shoppe in McAlester to participate in the program.
The McAlester News-Capital has talked several times with a spokesperson for the show and has been told each time that no one wants to comment about the program at this time, but someone will shortly before the episode airs.
Bedford said she would not do the show again.
"I wouldn't do it because of the trauma they put our family through," Bedford said. "They thrive on the thing that upsets you the most. They plotted and planned this out."
Bedford said she's originally from Texas and she had never been out of the region before going to Seattle. On the flight home, she recognized Oklahoma's terrain from the sky - and it looked like the promised land.
"I said 'This is Oklahoma,'" she recalled. Bedford said she learned something from the experience.
"I learned that right here, with my husband and my family, this is where I'm supposed to be."