What the first year of marriage is REALLY like

NEED TO KNOW
  • 'My First Time' explores the first time your favorite celebrities did something significant
  • Tina and Tarz are featured in the new docu-series, 'Newlyweds: The First Year'
  • The couple has learned firsthand that the fantasies and realities of marriage don't always match
What the first year of marriage is REALLY like
Tina and Tarz

Editor’s note: Every Friday, HLN brings you the "My First Time" series, which explores the first time your favorite celebrities did something significant or memorable (so get your mind out of the gutter!).

In this installment, Tina Sugandh and Tarz Ludwigsen -- a couple from Bravo TV’s new docu-series “Newlyweds: The First Year” -- open up about the expectations and realities of marriage.

HLN: What was the first year of marriage like for you both?
Tarz Ludwigsen: It was a difficult year. We had a lot of issues that unfortunately crept up on us.
Tina Sugandh: He has a startup -- Pandoodle, a media tech company -- and since he’s the founder, he literally worked 24/7 for weeks at a time until he collapsed. So we haven’t been able to get any baby-making time. That was a huge stress, because I’m like an 85-year-old and have half a good egg left. Plus, my dad and Tarz had major issues: We lost our mom a couple of years ago, so my dad is broken and taking it out on Tarz. You want your newlywed year to be romantic, but ours was brutal.

HLN: What has been your biggest challenge?
Tarz: I love kids; I’ve always wanted kids, lots of kids. For me, this was a really big struggle, because the fate of my company was in my hands. It’s something I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into, and Tina’s been along for the ride, too. So it was a huge internal struggle to not just want to have a kid but to also know that I’d have to really focus on my startup at the same time because otherwise, I’d have to go to a "normal" job, which I didn’t want to do.

HLN: Were you able to find a balance? How do you find time for each other now?
Tina: Well, the company has finally gotten funded, so I think he’ll have a little bit more time. He’ll always be a workaholic, but it’ll change a bit -- it’s a work in progress. I mean, we went to dinner maybe twice last year -- that’s bad.
Tarz: Part of the issue is that I work from home, so there is no going home after work. I wake up, I jump on the computer, and then I just work. I’m the type of person that gets totally engrossed once I start something, so this year, I have started to say, “OK, I’m done for the day.” The physical toll last year took on me was really huge.
Tina: We also just started Friday gluttony nights, where after work, we sit and each eat a medium pizza with cookies and ice cream for dessert, and watch a movie. It’s been nice to stop life and enjoy each other for awhile.

HLN: What about the clashing of the families -- how have you dealt with that?
Tina: I don’t think it’s gotten better. My dad has a lot of healing to do, and he’s not doing anything to help himself. He doesn’t want to believe that my mom is gone. They were together for 37 years -- they did everything for each other! I don’t think he knows what to do with himself. He’s a jerk to Tarz, and I feel very stuck in the middle: He’s my dad, and Tarz wants to respect him, but there’s only so much you can take.
Tarz: I think there’s an underlying tension. It’s not a pure cultural clash -- it has a role, but a good portion of it is his emotional state, which is totally understandable. I try to absorb it as much as I can, but it’s tough.

HLN: How did you get through all these struggles?
Tina: Jack on the rocks.
Tarz: A lot of whiskey.
Tina: We dealt with it. We are best friends and have each other’s backs. There’s nothing in the world I can’t tell this kid. My guard is down 100% with him and only him. I feel like that’s the only way to survive the marriage. There’s no room for ego or bitter feelings. So that’s how I got through the entire year -- having him as my best friend.
Tarz: The thing about working so much is you don’t have time for all the other stuff you’re supposed to be doing. Without a partner -- your other half who puts up with you even when you’re working too much or doing a lot of traveling -- it really makes things incredibly difficult. The biggest thing for me is knowing, without a doubt, that Tina will always have my back and that she’ll always be supportive. It was an incredibly stressful year, but with our underlying foundation as best friends, I don’t see us having any supernatural issues in the future.

HLN: What has brought you the most joy in your first year of marriage?
Tarz: I think we had quite a few joyous moments. One of the things we did is instead of going on a traditional honeymoon, we did something that’s completely outside of our comfort zone for one or two days a month. So we used that as our honeymoon.
Tina: Some of those things were torture, but I did think it was fun. One day a month, we planned something that was at least out of one of our comfort zones. We spread our “honeymoon” out throughout the year: It was brilliant and forced us to stop our lives and just be together. Another thing is Tarz and I will always laugh. We might be going through hell but we’ll always be able to crack each other up.

HLN: What lessons would you pass on to about-to-be newlyweds?  
Tarz: Make sure you marry your best friend.  
Tina: I would say the same thing. Looks fade. I used to wake up to him and think, “This guy’s hot!” Now I think, “What a dork -- but I love this dork!” I love his personality and what’s on the inside. As cliché as it is, get over the looks -- even Brangelina are probably over it, and hopefully they have the underlying strength of friendship.

HLN: What about expanding your family -- can you share your plans with us?
Tina: Hopefully the very, very near future! It’s been hell trying to find baby-making time and it’s still hell, but we’re working on it. We’re settling a bit I’m getting him off his computer!
Tarz: It’s in our future. It’s not that there’s anything to reveal -- we’re just constantly trying to find the time. We both really want kids. 

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