'Summer House's Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula Address 'Red Flag' Concerns About Their Relationship (Exclusive)
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Summer should be fun, as should watching Summer House -- and for millions of viewers, it is. But for stars Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula, reliving the months leading up to their wedding last September is proving not so fun.
"It's been challenging," Amanda confesses to ET, Zooming in alongside Kyle from the New York City apartment they share. "It wasn't our greatest time as a couple. The first episode, I didn't even watch."
The season 6 premiere ended with Amanda and Kyle at odds, after Kyle opted to stay out partying rather than return to the shared house with their friends on the group's first night in the Hamptons. Amanda repeatedly attempted to get ahold of Kyle, but her texts and calls went unanswered. She grew so frustrated, she trashed his toiletries in their bathroom and threw his clothing on the porch. An under-the-influence (and confused) Kyle returned home in the middle of the night, creating a domino effect of tension over the long weekend.
"There was so much going on last summer -- personally, professionally, with the show, with our wedding -- I kind of forgot how... I watched it and I was like, 'Man, I kind of forgot just how bad our summer started,'" Kyle reflects. "It's worse than reliving it, because you watch it back and then everybody shares their opinions and judgments. It's a lot."
Now four episodes in, viewers have only seen about a weekend and a half of last summer play out on TV. Amanda is quick to point out that the first weekend of filming season 6 got stretched out over three long episodes, putting a magnifying glass on a fight that was over and done within a matter of days -- the resolution of which largely played out off camera, in pre-marital counseling.
"I just think it's healthy to do that, whether we were fighting or not, we'd go every week," Amanda explains, noting that an upcoming therapy appointment was the reason why she told Kyle she wasn't interesting in talking out her concerns while at the shared house.
"I felt that this was a big enough conversation that I wanted to have with our therapist to kind of moderate and help us communicate with one another," she says. "I'm also the type of person -- camera, no camera, show, no show -- where I don't like to have arguments and fights and heavy conversations in a house full of people, around a bunch of people, when we're supposed to be having a party or having fun. It makes me really uncomfortable when other people do it, so I don't ever want to put people in that situation."
"I could tell by how defensive he was, that it wasn't going to be a very calm, 'I'm sorry, I understand...' sort of conversation," she adds. "I was like, 'Let's not do this here. Let's not talk about it here. Let's not ruin our weekend. Let's go home to the city, talk it through with our therapist, and figure it out and communicate in the best way possible.'"
Kyle says their therapist helped them get to a "good place," which set a better tone for the weekends to come. However, the couple wasn't totally in the clear. The aftershocks of the implosion of their first night in the Hamptons rippled through their co-stars, namely Paige DeSorbo and Ciara Miller, who comforted Amanda while she spiraled about what Kyle may or may not be doing when she couldn't get ahold of him. Paige and Ciara had side conversations about the state of Kyle and Amanda's soon-to-be legal union.
"To be honest, if it was my friend, if I was a friend of mine, I probably would say the same things that the girls have been saying and that people have been saying," Amanda admits. "You see it from outside of perspective, you're hearing me talk about all the negatives and all my frustrations and seeing me upset, and no one wants to see their friend that hurt or upset. It's very natural to be like, 'Are you happy? Is this really what you want to do?' But it's ultimately my decision and they all know that, too."
After learning Amanda and Kyle signed an agreement that said he would repay her parents any money lost if they wound up calling off their wedding, Ciara said, "That red flag has fireworks." However, Kyle clarifies it was not an official legal document, but an informal contract they drafted up themselves at home after nearly a year of rescheduling their "I dos" due to the pandemic.
"I was in a place of such anger and we were trying to repair things and move forward," Amanda explains. "In my mind I was like, 'I've watched enough movies to know that we can make a verbal agreement, but if we don't have something signed on paper, I would be screwed...' Not that that's ever what I wanted to happen, but in my head I was in a place where I was like, 'I need this written out because I to know that this is for sure and if we ever have to go to court over this, you signed it.'"
Then there's the peanut gallery of the audience, who also likes to point out all the "red flags" they see in the comments section week after week. Amanda's able to find the silver lining, though.
"The messages that actually mean something to me are the ones that come through DMs, and they're all people who have oddly just been able to relate," she says. "They're reaching out from a place of support and letting me know that they appreciate us showing a vulnerable, real side of our relationship, because so many couples make their relationship seem so perfect and it's refreshing to know that they're not the only ones that fight with their significant other."
"I have people being like, 'If my husband didn't pick up my calls, I would lose it,'" she adds. "People, they get it."
Amanda's concerns about Kyle staying out aren't unfounded. The last time he went MIA on her, he cheated. Kyle explained the incident as the result of getting so drunk that he didn't even know what he was doing, which plays into another topic the audience brings up a lot online: Kyle's drinking.
"I get a lot of comments like, 'Dude, you're an alcoholic. This is the definition of alcoholism,' or 'You're a functioning alcoholic,' etc., etc.," Kyle shares. "I want to let the record state that I am strictly a social drinker. I do not drink unless I'm socializing. Particularly in the pandemic, I did a lot less socializing. I never was good at moderation when I was drinking, factor in my tolerance, factor in all the guys around me are bigger and drink more than me on a routine basis. Particularly in Winter House, it really snuck up on me. It was embarrassing. I look at myself and I think, that's not fun. That's crossed the threshold of going from having a fun night to being obliterated and not remembering things or not being able to participate in conversations. I instantly regret it in the moment and then it is incredibly embarrassing to watch it back."
"I've reevaluated my relationship with alcohol in the sense that I have to acknowledge that I'm a lightweight," he continues. "I have to acknowledge that I suck at moderation, whether it's sweets or carbs or Amanda's seltzers or alcoholic drinks. I literally just consume everything in front of me and I think she can attest to that."
"Especially when he's stressed," Amanda chimes in. "And I think the easy to sum up my issue is his drinking, but it's not the fact that he drinks, it's some of the things that he does when he is drinking."
"It's an easy way to sum it up but also, to her credit, the worst thing I've ever done was when I was drinking," Kyle reiterates, "and so she just automatically connects the two."
Fans know the pair ultimately made it down the aisle, but the big theme of Summer House's current season is the "will they or won't they?" leading up to that big day. Amanda says she never thought they'd call off getting hitched, but did have fears of Kyle not taking her concerns about his behavior seriously.
"I didn't want to be put in a position where I just felt like I had no other choice," she says. Thankfully, she wasn't. Now nearly six months into marriage, Kyle and Amanda say life feels how it should.
"I feel like after we got married, Kyle sort of just became a really understanding, patient person," Amanda reveals. "I don't know what it was. I don't know who put a spell on him..."
"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" Kyle cracks.
"It's just, our day-to-day has just been so much easier in the best way, the way that it should have been the whole time," Amanda continues. "And I don't want to attribute that just to [the wedding drama being behind us], but I think that's been the biggest difference in our marriage: We're fully committed to each other and he is definitely making the effort now more than ever to show me that."
"This is going to sound so simple-minded, but you really do choose your battles," Kyle says, "and always trying to make your point and be the person that is right, and wins the argument, it becomes a lot more pointless when you're in it together. And there's a piece of paper that kind of confirms that."
Knowing where they are today vs. where they are in the episodes currently airing on TV, Kyle took a moment to publicly proclaim his love for his wife on Instagram.
"Proud of my wife," his post starts. "Not gonna lie, the last couple of weeks have been tough. Watching yourself make stupid decisions on TV is [worse] than just reliving it because it’s out there in the world for everyone to judge. ... I’m so glad we made it because it was literally against all odds. I love this woman."
"People forget putting yourself out there is hard," Kyle tells ET of why he felt the need to write the caption. "I wanted to just remind people, guys, what we did last year is not normal. Trying to plan our wedding, trying to run a business, trying to film two TV shows, it's a very unique set of circumstances that became a bit of a perfect storm."
"Kyle, I think, always just feels the need to explain himself," Amanda adds, confessing that the post was a surprise to her. "It was sweet, but also, we live together, you could have just said that to my face."
The newlyweds' next challenge to figure out is work-life balance. Not only do they live together and film a reality TV show together, but they also work together on Loverboy, the fast-growing alcohol brand. After that, it might be family planning. On last week's episode, Amanda got a bit reflective as her 30th birthday approached, confessing to Kyle that she once expected to be a mom by this point in her life.
"There was a point in time where I was convinced that I was going to be married at the age of 24," she shares. "And instead I was single and piercing my nose... Now, at 30, knowing that we're married, we want to enjoy being married. I don't feel the pressure to have kids yet, especially because I thought the rest of my friends would be married, and getting ready to have kids, and no one's quite there yet. So I don't want to be the only one. And this is so terrible to say -- I keep saying it -- but I don't want to have my kid to be the 'Mason Disick,' where his siblings and cousins are all around the same age, and he's just so much older than the rest of them."
"Also, we're kinda parents," Kyle jumps in to say, holding up one of two rescue dogs the couple is in the process of adopting. After fostering puppies for most of the pandemic, Kyle and Amanda are finally making their latest "temporary" pups permanent members of the Cooke family: Reese and Ryder.
The pups sort of serve as a make-good for Kyle dropping the ball on getting Amanda a 30th birthday gift. "I'm just a horrible gift giver," he confesses. "I just don't know how to shop!"
There's still quite a bit of last year yet to relive as Summer House continues to play out, but thankfully for Kyle and Amanda, the worst is (mostly) behind them -- Amanda says there are a few moments still to air that she'll be skipping over, but other than that they'll be happy to pass the drama baton to others in the house. There are two love triangles at play, one between Paige and the group's Winter House castmates Andrea Denver and Craig Conover, another between Ciara, Lindsay Hubbard and Craig's Southern Charm castmate Austen Kroll.
"Hands down, Lindsay, Austen, Ciara [is messier]," Amanda says.
"It's very confusing to try to make sense of," Kyle adds.
Also confusing to make sense of so far is newbie Alex Wach, the fitness professional whose most memorable moment to date is preparing 2 lbs. of ground turkey for breakfast, inspiring countless memes from fan accounts -- but Kyle and Amanda say give him time. The show has barely scratched the surface of Alex.
"Put it this way, if I was judged on my first weekend on television... I was in a hot tub with Stassi [Schroeder], that was my first weekend on TV," Kyle recalls, referencing an instantly iconic moment in which he told the then-Vanderpump Rules star she looked like Steve Jobs while wearing a turtlenecked swimsuit.
"People actually went back," Kyle says. "They're at the end of the season, they understand who I am. They understand I'm a goofy guy. They understand I wasn't actually trying to insult her, and I was just being me. And they're like, 'Oh my God, go back and watch that first episode, that first weekend, it makes so much more sense...' You got to come out of your shell, and you got to acclimate to be on camera. It takes time, and people quickly judge."
Summer House airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.
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