Advice from the 'Newlyweds'

Get each couple's perspective on the first year of marriage.

What advice would you give to a Newlywed couple after your experiences during your first year year of marriage? What lessons have you learned?

KATHRYN: I think the most important lesson I got out of my first year of marriage is that you have to take your partner into consideration with all the important things -- like how you spend your money and time -- and be on the same page with life goals. John and I had to learn how to share our space in the house, how to share our money, and most importantly, our time. It’s a game of trial and error until you find what works for you! We had a lot of trouble sleeping together, because I move around in the bed a lot and snore, so we came up with a great plan: two separate blankets! This way he didn’t feel me moving around as much and he sleeps with ear plugs now!

I would tell other couples to not forget that their love and marriage is still fresh -- always make time for each other and plan lots of “date nights.” Make each other a priority as much as your career and always go to bed happy.

I had to learn to spend our money wisely as we planed for our baby and future together. It’s not about buying every little thing I wanted anymore, but saving for a rainy day. I’m still working on this issue, but having a child is really expensive and I want to be able to say I helped save up for his education and future, so I try not to spend as much.

Then there is the time we always try to make time for each other a a couple. We talk about our business together for 15 minutes a night and then retire on the couch and cuddle with a good flick!

JOHN: The lesson I learned was always think before you talk. This is the woman you love, the one you will spending the rest of your life with. If a family member gets involved with your relationship, always back up your wife. It’s also very important to have a romantic date night. And treat your wife like you did on the first date, and don’t forget to flirt with her.

How has your life changed since having a baby? 

KATHRYN: Well life certainly has gotten busier since baby Dean came along. I am the sole caretaker of the baby and manage to work part time too. I take him everywhere with me, so before I used to get ready and run out the door, but now everything takes me longer. I have to get the baby ready, feed him, and then pack for our day. In the beginning it was hard juggling my time and daily house work and Glow Tanning salon, but now I’m starting to get the hang of things. A little less couple time and a LOT more family time. It’s changed for the best. John and I are working more as a team with both our business and family, and it has made our love stronger. With a lot of patience and team work we are both getting the hang of being a family now and are not so much newlyweds but familyweds!

We can’t just get up and go out dancing or stay out late, we always have to plan ahead and make sure we have a babysitter for “date night” or do things with the baby instead of just a fancy dinner and drinks. We both learned to put the baby’s needs first and spend a lot of time together, but also give each other time to do personal things like go to the gym or out with friends. We take turns going out for “girls night” or “guys night” to get a break from the every day stresses of being a parent, but we also always go out together every Friday night just the two of us for “date night.” And we have family day every Sunday. Life definitely got a lot busier, but the 2nd year of marriage keeps getting better and better.

JOHN: Our life revolves around Dean; we can’t just go out whenever we want. He has to be asleep no later than 7:30pm and takes naps throughout the day. We have to plan out our day based on his naps. It’s the best accomplishment I had ever done -- forget money or marriage (our marriage is wonderful) -- being a dad is a natural high. He’s a carbon copy of you and your wife. I wouldn’t change our chaotic new life filled with a home of baby toys (no longer with my toys) and no sleep for anything else. It’s definitely changed, but I think we are finally getting into the swing of things.

Is John still hesitant to baby-sit/change a diaper?

KATHRYN: John was really scared of staying home with the baby or handling his diapers/baths for the first 6 months I’d say. He was scared of taking care of a newborn or being left alone with him (but he still did it). Now that the baby is older and stronger, he has no problem staying with Dean and watching him.

JOHN: The first few months were hard for me. He was so tiny and fragile! I was definitely afraid I would mess up somehow.  Now that Dean is 9 months and he interacting with me, I love taking care of him. I still don’t do diapers though.What advice would you give to a Newlywed couple after your experiences during your first year of marriage? What lessons have you learned?

TINA: Don’t act anything like me, and you will be just dandy! I will say, there were a lot of things that Tarz and I could have improved upon, but the one thing we had down was verbalization at ALL times! (And I’m not just talking about the fact that I tend to run my loud-ass mouth 24/7.) I feel like if you can’t throw all of your ego out the window and let down your guard 100% with just this one person, then why get married? I am always able to express to Tarz my every thought -- including when I’m feeling the slightest bit hurt, jealous, or insecure. Talking about these feelings right away ensures that we never ever harbor any bitterness or fight about trivial things. So I guess the old cliché about the key to a good marriage being “open and honest communication at all times” wins! (Now, if only there was a cliché about clubbing your workaholic hubby over the head and dragging him out on a date against his will…)

TARZ: My advice actually precedes your first year of marriage -- and that’s to marry your best friend. Of anything and everything that Tina and I have in our relationship, it all begins with a rock solid foundation of friendship. We love hanging out with each other and we talk about pretty much everything. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t other types of relationships that work, but I think we work so well because of the friendship. I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as a perfect first year of marriage. There’s just a first year.

How did it feel to hear that you were pregnant after all your trials and tribulations? How has your life changed with having a baby?

TARZ: I’m typically very cautious with any sort of news like this, and so I sort of reserved the elation until I felt like we were past the initial stages of being pregnant when most miscarriages happen (that superstitious 3 month window). I didn’t really harbor any doubts that we’d eventually be able to get pregnant -- but we want a lot of kids, and the older you get (well, I get older, Tina is in some perpetual state of youth), the tougher it gets medically speaking.

With the little guy, I don’t actually feel like life has changed so much, to be honest. We already had two stuffed-animal pigs (that you never saw on the show, but that we carry everywhere and have little voices for), our two babies Loki and Xena, and Tina’s Dad. So it’s like we already had 5 kids. Seriously though, the only big thing that’s changed is our schedule, and we’re possibly getting a little less sleep. We’ve always been very busy with work and travel and our three-ring circus life, and he just adds to it. Conversely, I don’t have to have him or a pump attached to my boob 10 times a day, so it’s probably unfair to say it’s hasn’t really changed!

TINA: Finding out I was pregnant was AMAAAAZING! For about two seconds. Then I thought about the two miscarriages that I had been through (magically mushing 365 days into 8, 1-hour episodes meant that viewers obviously missed some “wonderful” Newlywed events), and my hopes were instantaneously crushed. Thank god I have Mr. Positivity as my life partner, who kept reassuring me that “third time’s a charm.”

Our son (whoa, that still sounds SO weird) just came home from the NICU a few days ago (since he was born a bit early), so I’m still just beginning to build this magical bond with him. In general, I actually enjoy racing against the clock and having high-energy, crazy-rushed days, so I’m loving it for now!  Your time does become limited though. I think workaholic Tarz was preparing me for the baby for the last year by never taking me out so now I don’t have to miss going out! Pumping and breast-feeding becomes a significant part of your life, although I’ve learned to pump “on the go”!  (Although, I do often wonder if a cop’s going to pull me over and fine me for milking myself. I know “texting and driving” is illegal, but how about “pumping and driving”?)

How are things with Tina’s father and your relationship?

TARZ: I’d say things have gone from a day to day figuring things out to more like a week to week or month to month. It was a very surreal year in many ways, including figuring out the relationship with Tina’s dad, and although it hasn’t been easy on any of us, there are moments where all the planets align and we all get along. I, for one, am trying to have more of those moments and less of the other ridiculous moments, but I don’t know the answer of how to make that happen. I think it’s just more time and more rolling with the punches. And maybe more clichés!

TINA: I think this question is for Tarz, but that never shut me up before! Let’s just say dad is “as looney as ever.”  Here’s just one example: We took over my mom’s house from him after she passed, because he could not bear to live there. He recently wanted it back and of course we agreed (so now Tarz and I are basically “homeless in Cali”). Then, the other day, we rolled up to the house to grab some of our stuff, and there’s a “for sale” sign on it! Just ask him what the deal is you say? Well, we would, but he’s off in Russia right now. Or Germany? Or England? I don’t know. He still doesn’t tell us anything. (He’s always doing something adventurous in the hopes that it will make all the pain go away.) So, that’s just ONE example of what’s going down. If we had a few more pages on this blog, I would keep going…the one positive thing is that he is very much attached and actually very overprotective of our kid. (Although, I think that’s because the baby has mom’s genes and is a piece of her. So that’s pretty unhealthy as well…) Sigh...a work in progress for sure!What advice would you give to a Newlywed couple after your experiences during your first year of marriage? What lessons have you learned?

BLAIR: Number one, don't sweat the small stuff. I learned throughout the year that "small annoyances" are going to come up DAILY. Focusing on those things will drive you NUTS! Instead, choose your battles wisely… I also learned that non-threatening communication is key. Be calm and carry on! Keep the laughter always, don't take yourself too seriously, and never stop LOVING no matter what! As I said in Episode 1: "Unless you’re, dying keep trying!"

JEFF: For me it's listening to your partner and having compassion for your partner’s feelings. I have learned you will always have differences of opinion, but it's about the journey where you come to realize what you truly have together…and allowing each other to grow.

Describe your experience with sex therapy.

JEFF: I realized how Blair feels when I would push him away and not be compassionate towards his feelings and needs. It's important to me to make sure that Blair is happy and that I fulfill his wants and desires.

BLAIR: It was very unnerving at first. Jeff and I had never seen an "unbiased" person before, so that took some getting used to, and I was a bit on the defense at first. But after we role played and I realized where Jeff was coming from and what his needs were, it all "clicked." I also clearly got very emotional in the end. I think I had out a lot of pressure on myself to make up for Jeff's lack of love throughout his life…it felt so good to let that out and almost start over again on a fresh new page.

Where are you now in your relationship with intimacy and with each other?

JEFF: I think that we are very close and in a good a place. Our relationship only continues to grow and evolve.

BLAIR: The intimacy is still evolving. Some weeks are better than others, but the bottom line is Jeff has certainly stepped up to the plate and I have relaxed a bit, so it's a healthy combination. He is still my Jeff!

Have there been changes since the first year?

JEFF: I think Blair has grown from a boy into a man. I have watched him change before me. I can only hope that I have changed in a positive way, at least a little, for him!

BLAIR: Definitely. One thing is we FINALLY settled our legal/money issues. I got the WILL and it makes me more at ease and more eager to take care of our home as if it's mine too. I have learned a lot about financial responsibility. About sharing. About compromising. And about myself. Growing up. Not being such a brat! I will always be dramatic, I was born on a freaking stage…BUT as long as I do it with a laugh and not a WHINY SQUEAL I think Jeff will be able to handle me better! Life and marriage is all about constantly reevaluating: "Check yourself before you wreck yourself." That’s where I am at, making sure I can continue to grow and be the very best ME I can possibly be! What advice would you give to a Newlywed couple after your experiences during your first year of marriage? What lessons have you learned?

ALASKA & KIM: Compromise is a must. The best way to approach this is to make sure you choose your battles wisely. Because sometimes it just isn't worth a battle. It doesn't matter who is wrong or right (or who wins).

We found out about your love for adventure on your honeymoon in Mexico, have you had any more adventures since then?

ALASKA & KIM: Every day is an adventure in the world of Kilaska. We try to escape as much as possible even if it is during a work trip.

Are you still a bi-coastal couple? How did you both feel about the relationship discussion on the beach?

ALASKA & KIM: Yes we are still bi-coastal. I think the discussion was great besides the "girlfriend for life" comment, which was supposed to be a "sarcastic joke" LOL!

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Couples Q&A: Nadine & Erik Still Argue About the Cows

Erik and Nadine share the challenges of getting married so quickly and the details of their month long honeymoon. As a “baby couple,” what was it like still getting to know each other after you got married? Were there any surprises?

Erik Courtney: It was exciting because everything was so new and I really enjoyed spending so much time with her. But it was stressful too, because Nadine would get so upset with me. It seemed like everything I did rubbed her the wrong way. The side of the bed I slept on, my snoring, my list-making, etc. The process of figuring out how to live with each other was a lot harder than I expected it to be. We were good at going out and having fun at night, but the day-to-day aspects of our relationship still needed a lot of figuring out.

Nadine Jolie Courtney: When Erik and I first started dating, he would do anything to avoid upsetting me. Our dynamic was definitely one of him trying to please me. But we went from meeting to getting engaged to moving in to married incredibly quickly. By the time we set off for the honeymoon, we were honestly still getting to know each other and trying to figure out what made the other person tick. And when you’re married, you’ve got to get down and dirty and be honest -- you can’t always put the other person first and try to please them. It was good for our relationship, but not necessarily good for our egos.

(And, for the record, I know it sounds absolutely insane to marry somebody you’ve only known for a few months, but that’s how most people in my family and many in their culture did it. Why waste somebody’s time by dating for years? If you meet the right person and you’re serious about them: bam. My parents met and were married three months later, and they were married for 29 years, until my mother died.) Tell us about the “cow incident.” What were you both thinking as this was going on and as you each reacted so strongly?  Was this a relationship first?

EC: I thought it was really cool that what seemed like a very controlled tourist environment was actually open to cattle walking through the complex. You’re never going to see something like that at Disneyland. It reminded me that we were in a very different world in Hong Kong, and it was exciting to me to see these traditional farmers leading animals through the temple village underneath the Big Buddha. Like anything amazing that I see, I just had to take a picture with it. I didn’t take Nadine’s request to not touch the cow very seriously, because it’s not like I was going to make out with it. But I’m not a "stand on the sidelines and watch the experience happen" kind of guy. I like to be as much of a part of everything as possible: and that meant I was petting those cows. I wasn’t surprised that Nadine wanted me to wash my hands, but I was surprised by how upset she got about it. The fact that she wouldn’t even touch the strap I was holding seemed really over the top to me. I felt she was being overly dramatic.

NJC: We still fight about this, because to me he completely missed the point! Our fight in Hong Kong wasn’t about the cow or about the hand-washing. You could insert any scenario. For me, it was about how Erik reacted to me. My request was innocent and, while serious, made in good humor -- I said it laughingly. You know how you sometimes do something without thinking about it? That’s exactly what I did when I reached out to take the bag: I slid my sleeve over my hand without really noticing. I certainly wasn’t trying to make a big deal out of it or offend him. I just thought, "Hey, that was a dirty cow; he’s handing me the bag; I should protect myself from possible germs." But Erik took me to task as if I’d insulted him, and he wouldn’t back down, asking me repeatedly why I wouldn’t touch the bag. The badgering of me is what I reacted to, and it riled me up. The Erik I had first started dating would never have been so snappy with me, and it surprised me and made me snap back in return. I was absolutely being neurotic and silly about the hand-washing -- although, come on, who touches a strange cow?! -- but for me, the way he dealt with me after was the real fight.

Erik and I have a lot of similarities: we’re both neurotic, stubborn, emotional, and passionate. One of the reasons we bonded so quickly was because we let our guards down from the very beginning, which meant talking about everything under the sun for hours at a time. . .but also meant that we’d occasionally butt heads, and hard. Hong Kong was the number one destination on my world bucket list. . .yet here we are fighting at the Big Buddha like two lunatics.

I wish I could say I rose to the challenge of how he initially handled me with grace and dignity, but unfortunately, I ended up snapping right back. I wouldn’t say it was our first fight, but it felt like a turning point in our relationship. It seemed like the honeymoon was over before it had even started.

If you get into a fight at a beautiful temple in Hong Kong, you’re an ---hole.

Nadine Jolie Courtney Tell us about the moment Nadine learned she couldn’t go diving. Erik, you seemed pretty surprised how Nadine reacted, why?

EC: Because she never displayed any interest in scuba diving whatsoever! When we were planning the trip, all she wanted to do was to relax, read, eat and drink. I had to convince her to do it, every time we talked about it and she seemed pretty nervous about it, too. I really wanted to share my hobby of scuba diving with her, but her hobby of going to the spa seemed to be a much bigger priority. Nadine – what was it like sitting alone on the boat? Did you really not want him to dive?

NJC: Honestly, I didn’t care about it until I started seeing the enthusiasm in Erik’s eyes, and then it was something I really wanted to share with him. But during my pre-check, the instructor found out I’d recently had a cold and put the kibosh on it. I’d had a cold for almost the entire honeymoon and it kept getting in the way of me doing things. I caught it on New Year’s Eve and with all the traveling and late nights; it lasted for three full weeks. It was really frustrating! Erik offering not to go scuba diving was so him, however: chivalrous, selfless, and perfectly emblematic of the guy I’d fallen in love with. Obviously, I never would have taken him up on it, but sitting on the boat alone was no fun, that’s for damn sure. What did you learn from your honeymoon?

EC: I learned that it’s easy to put somebody first when they’re doing what you want and a lot harder when they’re challenging you. But when they’re challenging you: that’s when it really counts.

NJC: Three things:

1. I learned that you can be right or you can be happy. Not every fight is worth it, and sometimes it’s simply better to let things go.

2. One month is WAY too long to travel.

3. Finally, if you get into a fight at a beautiful temple in Hong Kong, you’re an ---hole.


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