Natalie Morales is known for reporting the news on the Today show, but now she's also researching and delivering facts you never thought you wanted to know on NBC's The Marriage Ref (Thursdays at 10/9c). The 38-year-old mom of two told TVGuide.com about the wildest arguments between couples she's witnessed on the show — like a man who stuffed his dead dog — and how she finds time in her busy life to make her own marriage work.
TVGuide.com: How did you get involved with The Marriage Ref?
Natalie Morales: They came to me because they were looking for someone who has a name, a following, and deals with news, information and facts because that was the role they were looking for. I fit the bill and ... the role sort of evolved from there.
TVGuide.com: Were you nervous about how the show would affect your reputation as a journalist?
Morales: Of course. When you sign yourself up for a recurring role ... you always weigh how it's going to be perceived. We vetted it with NBC News, and my bosses [said] "Go for it; it sounds like fun." It's a continuation of what I do anyway, it's just a different format. But I'm still giving information about the couples and their arguments and tidbits and facts.
TVGuide.com: What's the most out-there fact you've learned?
Morales: It seems kind of crazy to think of all the issues we've talked about, from pole dancing —how many calories it burns and how some people view it as a form of exercise — to things like a guy wanting to put a urinal in his house. Half the time I'm like, is this for real?
The Marriage Ref's Jerry Seinfeld on returning to TV and breaking new ground
TVGuide.com: Yet somehow it resonates with viewers.
Morales: It's water cooler talk. It's relevant to the couples and certainly their arguments, but also you're surprised. You can hold up your end of the conversation at a party and say, "Oh yeah? Well top this one."
TVGuide.com: What's the funniest argument you've seen on the show?
Morales: I have to say in the first episode, the husband who stuffed his dead dog. The reaction of the wife was so what I was feeling at the time. And the guy who has the motorcycle in the living room and refuses to move it. He also, by the way, has a side passion, which is his obsession with Mariah Carey. So there are some very interesting people in this world, I've learned.
TVGuide.com: Viewers like to think other people are weirder than them.
Morales: It makes you look at your own arguments and be like, "Honey, at least we're not fighting about something like that." People would probably laugh at what I fight about with my husband. We all have our ridiculous arguments, and we all believe so passionately in our cause. But sometimes, if you take a look from the outside at some of the facts surrounding the issue that you're passionate about, it allows you to give you a little bit more perspective.
TVGuide.com: What are your secrets for a successful marriage?
Morales: I think for me it's always a give and take. Both my husband and I have crazy schedules. We've got two boys, so it's really about balancing and trying to find the right formula for making it work. There are days when I feel like I'm doing everything, and I'm sure there are days when he feels that he's doing a lot at home. It's about finding that time together to really check in and say, "OK I'll do this, you help with that," and then finding a way to meet half way. Day in and day out, it's a juggling act between the two of us. So, it's [about] trying to find some time together at the end of the night and just decompress.