The Giudices spent some quality family time together in between the time that Teresa Giudice returned home from prison in December 2015 and her husband Joe Giudice began his sentence for mail, wire, and bankruptcy fraud last March. But as we've seen this season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, it hasn't been completely drama-free. Joe has often gotten into arguments with their four daughters, as well as Teresa, even telling her to "shut the f*** up" during one heated moment earlier this season (clip above).
Just as Teresa kept her cool then, she still says today that she didn't take Joe's words very seriously. "I didn't take that to heart because that's not how Joe normally talks, he really doesn't," Teresa said during a recent interview with PEOPLE. "You see, he passes out right after. He went to go lay down and he passed out. And when he woke up I said to him, 'Hon, why'd you say that?' And he said, 'What?' He didn't even remember what he said.
Since Teresa and Joe have been married for almost 17 years, the RHONJ mom said that his acting out was just her husband's way of dealing with his impending prison sentence. "I know how Joe talks, I've known him my whole life. I think there's going to be a surprise on the show. They're going to show stuff that you guys are going to see really how long I know Joe," she said. "I've known him a long time, I know his language. Everyone deals with things differently and he was nervous that he was leaving his wife and his four daughters."
Teresa said that their relationship has even benefitted from the distance. "We've always been close but when you go through things like this either it can break you or make you stronger as a family or as a couple, and obviously it's doing that for us," she said. "We both know in our hearts that he didn't try to hurt me in any way and I know I didn't try to hurt him in any way. If anything, you know what they say, when you're away from each other it makes the heart grow fonder? It's definitely doing that for us."
Of course, that doesn't mean Teresa and her four daughters — Gia, 15, Gabriella, 11, Milania, 10, and Audriana, 7, — don't miss him. "They're doing good," Teresa also recently told PEOPLE of how the girls are coping with their dad's time away. "I'm sure it wasn't easy, but a little easier because they went through it with me so they know what to expect. But they miss him tremendously, they always say we miss dad. They miss him. You can feel his absence, our family's definitely incomplete without him."
Teresa said that their eldest daughter, Gia, is handling Joe's absence the best, while Milania "is having the toughest time." Youngest child Audriana also wished "for Daddy to come home" while celebrating her birthday earlier this month.
But Teresa said it's been difficult to enjoy herself while Joe is away. "I don't really have a good time because he's not here. It's not like when I go out I have a blast, because I really don't cause he's not with me. [The] only time I do have fun is when I'm with my kids. Like fashion week was fun cause it was all about them," she said. "I feel like it's weird, I'm kind of old-fashioned like that because he's not here, I'm incomplete. He's the missing piece of the puzzle. Like without him I feel lost."
At least she has her daughters to help her get through it. "What keeps me busy is my girls. I swear, that's what makes the days go by. If I didn't have them, I'd probably go crazy. Then I would really think about him 24/7 and it wouldn't be easy," Teresa told PEOPLE. "I'm going through the motions of each day. I just can't wait for each day to pass by for him to come home."
We're sure it will be filled with as much emotion as Teresa's heartwarming homecoming earlier this season of RHONJ.