After raising their now teen and adult sons, the couple had grown apart. Maria was adventurous and reveled in life. Michael was a homebody. Dinner, the gym or a night in was ideal for him. Their marriage was stale. A trip would rekindle their flame.
Except, there was a catch. A few catches, actually. Michael would be staying in another mansion, with other women — much younger women. Maria, too, would share a home with younger single males. And it would all be televised. The couple would be putting their marriage through the “ultimate test” for PeacockTV’s latest reality show, Love For the Ages.
The extroverted influencer yearned to maximize her life experiences by traveling and trying new things. Spicing up her love life would be a bonus. Love For the Ages fit the bill.
“I am going to excel, and I'm going to do amazing,” Maria Foster says. “And then I get there, and about 48 hours in I started to really think, ‘Did I make the right decision?’”
The bilingual reality TV series, hosted by television personality Adrienne Bailon, guides three middle-aged, long-married couples through a social experiment.
The Fosters, alongside two other couples, were provided with a “hall pass” over the 2022 summer. For a month, they got to live with and date singles while testing their marriage to find out if they have a “love for the ages” or if the grass really is greener on the other side.
“I've never dated anyone else, so I’m thinking it's gonna be easy,” Maria Foster says. “I'm gonna be dating and having conversations, and then I really closed up.”
Maria hoped the experience would bring a spark back to her husband, but her enthusiasm quickly faded. Behind the scenes, anxiety was overcoming her. It was the first time she experienced generalized anxiety. It was a daily occurrence in the mansion.
“It was a really, really hard time for me,” she says.
On Instagram, Maria, Mrs. Bella Maria to her followers, boasts a following of more than 17,000. The now 40-year-old shows off her confident in-your–face personality on social media to inspire followers to “live authentic and free.” However, on Love For the Ages, that vibrancy was dimmed.
On the show, Maria concealed her anxiety and pain with fake smiles. Other times, the pressures of the show drove her to make regrettable decisions.
In an infamous bowling alley scene, emotions flared when Maria and a companion went on a double date with Michael and his companion.
“I was just an emotional mess, looking for confirmation from my husband that he still loved me,” Maria says.
These high emotions, mixed with tequila, made for an explosive blowout. For some of her followers, the scene is off-putting. Others, including Michael Foster, see the pain and hurt.
“I was just an emotional mess, looking for confirmation from my husband that he still loved me." – Maria Foster
“In some of the footage where I see she's smiling, I can tell she's not on the inside,” he says. “I can see the pain in her eyes. I can tell she had just been crying. The one thing that always hurts me the most is seeing her hurt.”
Throughout the experience, Maria unabashedly voiced her desire for Michael to live more. She wanted more travel, more dates and more experiences outside the home. She had crowned Michael as a master of “boring,” but it didn’t stop him from becoming a hot commodity in the husbands' mansion. Singles fawned and fought over the now 42-year-old six-pack-adorned married man.
One 23-year-old woman became intent on leaving the show with the “hubby material” husband, but the Fosters had established boundaries well before they set foot in the Malibu mansions.
“We were here to learn, and to grow,” Michael says. “And a lot of times when something becomes physical right off the bat, it kind of starts to cloud judgment, and thoughts. That's why we put that boundary there.”
All eight episodes of Love For the Ages are now streaming on PeacockTV. Since the experiment, the couple is “more present than ever” in their marriage, Michael Foster says. He credits communication, commitment and compromise with keeping their love alive.
“Love is all about two different people willing to fight to stay together and love each other,” says Maria Foster.
The duo celebrates 20 years of marriage in February.
“It's important to understand that there's never going to be that perfect person that you want, but maybe there is the perfect person that you need,” Michael Foster says.