What does it take to keep a marriage hot and happy? How do you "fight right"? And what's the secret to raising happy and healthy children? Melissa Gorga knows the answer. And the Real Housewives of New Jersey star dishes her advice in her new book Love Italian Style. This season, Melissa and her husband Joe Gorga have endured plenty of drama, so if anyone knows how to keep a marriage working, it's her.
To celebrate her new book, Melissa answered fans questions—20 of them. Which of Joe's habits annoy her the most? What's one thing she regrets about filming on the show? And has her relationship with sister-in-law Teresa Giudice improved or worsened over the years? Read on to find out.
What did the Housewives think of your book?
They all were very excited and receptive when I told them I was writing Love Italian Style. They felt like it was a perfect fit for me. I can’t wait for them to read it.
Has your relationship with Teresa improved since you started the show? Or has it worsened?
I think that being on a reality show definitely magnifies our flaws, so it might seem worse to viewers, but the truth is it's really always been this way. Being on the show forces us to work out our issues and if we weren’t on the show we very well could have cut off all ties. And after all the therapy this season how could you not be better!
How did you and Joe meet and what was your first date like? Were you nervous? Was he? When did you know that he was the one?
We were both in Cancun on Spring Break with our friends and Joe spotted me. He told his friend that he was going to marry me one day. We never met, but he remembered me and the leopard bikini I was wearing. A couple years later, we met at a beach club down at the Jersey shore. It took him a little while to get my number, but when he finally did we went on a first date and he made me dinner at his house. I was impressed that he cooked penne a la vodka for me. Joe wasn’t nervous at all and neither was I.
Come to find out after I moved in with him, that he pretended to make that dinner! LOL. He put out the pots and pans and even made a point to show me the vodka he used to make the sauce. Years later after moving in with him, I realized Joe had ordered the food from our favorite restaurant down the street. To this day we still laugh about it! After that first date, we were inseparable.
Your book is about your husband and your marriage. But do you have a similar values (respect, honesty, loyalty) when it comes to your extended family and friendships?
I do. I believe that respect, honesty and loyalty are key, but I believe there is a difference between family and friends. When it comes to friendships, I keep my circle tight. If a friend brings too much negativity to your life, then you need to cut them out. That rule doesn’t apply to family, you have to be more forgiving and let things go.
When you first moved in with Joe, what challenges did you guys have to overcome? What did you learn about each other?
The first five years were definitely the most difficult. I was very independent and when Joe and I moved in together we would argue constantly over silly things. What I learned is that you need to let your guard down and check your ego at the door. You can be a strong independent woman, but when you are in your home do not have an ego. Let your husband be the man in the house. Respect each other and work together. Honesty, loyalty, respect and passion are what strengthen a marriage.
What is something you've done or said during the Real Housewives that you wish you could take back?
I wish I could take back filming my son's christening. Despite everything that happened, it was supposed to be a very special day for us and I really wish the cameras weren’t there.
Do you and Joe want to have more children?
No. I am very blessed with three beautiful healthy children. I’ve always said I wanted three and we have them so we are done!
Do you and Joe watch episodes of RHONJ every Sunday? Is it weird to see yourself on TV?
We actually get to view the episodes a few days before, but we always try to tune in each week. Now that it’s getting colder out and we are home, it’s pasta sauce and the RHONJ! And yes, it is strange to see yourself on TV. Believe it or not you never get used to it.
Do you watch other Housewives shows? If so which ones and why? What do you think of them?
Yes of course! One of my favorites is Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I love their over the top lives, glamorous homes and witty ways.
What's the funniest thing someone has said to you in public as a fan of the show? Do you get recognized a lot while you are out? Does that make you feel strange?
It is strange sometimes when you are out and people come up to you and ask how your children are. I have to think do I know this person or do they just watch the show? I think the funniest thing that happened to us is recently when Joe and I were walking down the street in Manhattan and a fan yelled out "Hey it’s Melissa and Tarzan!" People were starring and I almost died. Joe of course loved it! I have to say it is nice when people come up to us and tell us that we make them laugh or they are going through the same family issues we are. The fans of this show are really passionate and we love meeting them when we are out.
What is one item every woman should have in her closet? What is a fall season must have item?
Every woman needs a black fitted blazer and a great pair of neutral heels. Those are staple pieces that can be dressed up or down and will never go out of style. As far as a Fall must have, I would have to say rompers! I’m obsessed with rompers right now.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?
The best advice I have ever gotten was from my grandmother, who told me to "be true to yourself and always follow your dreams." She also would say, "if you have a good heart, it will shine through."
Between filming the show and being married when would you write the book? Did you have a favorite place to do it?
I wrote it very late at night from 10pm – 2am after the kids and Joe went to bed. I would nestle in the corner of my couch in the living room. It would be my quiet time to sit and write the book with no distractions.
What's one bad habit or tic that annoys you about Joe, and what's the one thing about you that annoys him?
I hate how Joe holds a grudge for a week when we don’t see eye-to-eye. I’m the type that likes to let it out and then let it go shortly after. Joe would probably say that I always take on too many things and then get stressed out and when I am stressed out that annoys him.
What are your and Joe's favorite things to do together when you don't have the kids?
Believe it or not having a low key night is what we love. We love to grab something quick at a restaurant and check out a movie. Friday nights we spend as a family with the kids and Saturdays we designate as date night.
Besides your husband who would you say you're closest to on the show?
Do the kids count? LOL. Actually, I would have to say Kathy. I spent a lot of time with her well before the show and we live our lives with the same values. It’s always been very easy to get along with Kathy. She was one of the first family members Joe introduced me to and I adore her.
Do you have a nanny or other help besides your hubby that help you on a day to day basis with the housework or kids?
No I don’t have a nanny or housekeeper to help me on a day-to-day basis. I try my hardest to leave the kids with my family when we have an appearance or event. I'm very hands on with my children and it's hard for me to leave them with anyone. I am blessed that my mom, sisters and my aunt are always able to help us. When they aren't, we do have a babysitter that also helps out especially when we are filming the show.
Creed! I love Scott Stapp’s voice. It just goes right through me.
Do you ever sing to Joe when you guys are at home?
All the time and especially when we are in the car. Joe and the kids actually know every word to all of my songs. We love music in our house.
What made you decide to write a book about marriage when you have only been married for eight years?
9 years actually and I think you need to create a solid foundation early on in your marriage or you won't make it 20 years. People always came up to us and wanted to know how Joe and I keep a fun, playful and flirty marriage. So we decided to share the tips and advice of what works for us. We had a lot of fun writing this book and shared the story of how we met, what tips truly work for us and why we are still as crazy about each other as when we first started dating. Writing the book for me was also a way to share more of how I grew up and became the wife, mother and person I am today. It’s something that I am proud to share with my fans and my kids someday.