This past week, the last part of that tagline became an actual possibility, as Gorga’s first book hit shelves. A guidebook to happy marriages, Love Italian Style: The Secrets of my Hot and Happy Marriage provides a different type of behind-the-scenes look at Melissa’s life with her husband, Joe Gorga, than does the show. Here, she shares intimate stories from throughout their marriage and offers advice to her readers on how to keep things spicy, loving, and exciting with their spouses.
As this season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey winds down, Gorga dished to me about why she decided to write this book, her relationship with her husband, her music career, the show’s upcoming reunion, her thoughts on Caroline Manzo’s just-announced spin-off, where her relationship with sister-in-law Teresa Giudice currently stands, and more.
ALEX: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you and your husband meet and how did he propose to you?
MELISSA: How did he propose to me? He actually proposed to me on my 25th birthday. He put rose petals all over the room and it was really, really sweet. He surprised me. He sent me off for my birthday to this spa day, and got me like every treatment the spa offered, and at the end of the day they told me to go into one of their hotel rooms – because it was at the Short Hills Hilton. They told me to go into one of their hotel rooms to change for dinner because Joe was going to meet me downstairs for dinner. And when I opened the hotel room door, there was rose petals all over the room and champagne and he was on his knee in the room, so it was really cute.
We met … actually we were on spring break with our friends years before we actually got together. He said he saw me walk across the bar and walk across the pool actually, and he pointed to me and said, “That’s gonna be my wife.” So, it’s kind of crazy, but then we met at a beach club a couple of years later and we ended up, you know, getting together. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
(Joe Gorga flexing in his teens)
At what point in your relationship did you realize that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with him and how did you know?
It was pretty much right after our first date. We just had the same views. We both were done, you know, kissing frogs and dating and we were just ready to settle down. We are both really hard workers, and we both just wanted a family, and we were young and that’s it. We wanted to just start our life and build the life that we have now, and that’s what we did.
What is it about your marriage that you think makes it so exemplary?
You know what, I think Joe and I are very loyal to one another. We back each other up no matter what, and I think that’s so important – just the respect and the loyalty aspect. And we’re also very passionate, and we compliment each other a lot which I think, you know, it works. By making him feel special, and making him feel like the man of the house, he in return treats me great, and he treats me like, you know, the woman of the house, and he puts me on a pedestal. So I think when it goes back and forth, you know, it trickles down to your kids and to everything else, and it just makes a happy place. A happy house.
So the overriding principle of your book is to treat your husband like a king and in response you’ll be treated like a queen.
Can you elaborate a little bit about what you mean by that?
Sure. I actually mean exactly that.
Just like when he comes home and he feels like the man and he feels appreciated and he feels like he went to work all day and came home to a loving home to people who really respect him and appreciate what he did all day, well then he’s gonna be happy to get up the next morning and go to work again because he knows he’s doing it for the right reason.
He doesn’t come home to a house or a family that’s like, “Oh hey, you’re home, find something to eat in the refrigerator,” like he comes home, I respect him, I, you know, give him something to eat, ask him how his day was, greet him at the door. Things … little things like that that are just so easy make a man want to come home, and they make him want to treat you like a queen because they feel like they’re the king of the house.
I see. So how did you celebrate your last anniversary?
Our last anniversary I think we just went to dinner. I think we went to dinner our last anniversary.
And how many years were you celebrating?
What inspired you to write this book?
You know I think it was just a, a bunch of things. I think my family values are pretty strong and obviously, I think it comes through the screen on TV.
A lot of people would approach us and just say, you know, they love the, the fresh, playful style that Joe and I have, and, and I think it’s where we shine, and so I decided to write about it.
What do you think is the key to a healthy sex life?
Usually I … three times a week. Three times a week you need it. You need to keep your sex life the way you were with a boyfriend. The way you would when you first got married. The way you were when you were dating.
You can’t get married and just drop everything and get lazy and stop doing the fun things and stop the flirting. You need to continue to flirt. You need to do the foreplay, like not so sexual, that’s more like flirting and wearing what he likes and giving him the look.
And I still do that with Joe and Joe appreciates it. He feels like, you know, it’s still fresh and I think that’s what a lot of women forget to do. You have to act like you’re still dating because we’re human and if you don’t get it from someone you’re gonna start looking other places to get it, you know. So you want your husband to get that from you at home.
What would you say is the biggest obstacle that you and Joe have ever faced as a married couple and how did you overcome it?
I mean there were plenty of obstacles.
I think when 2008 hit, it was very hard financially on us because we’re in construction and everything took a dive, so it was stressful for us.
We were building a home that you see on the Housewives and we had plenty of properties for sale, and we just had a lot going on and we hit a hole where we were, you know, not doing well financially and it, it takes a toll on you. And you have three children and a lot going on, so I think that’s definitely one of our harder times. And you know, there’s been times when my son Gino was in the hospital for a couple of days, and that’s when you see how much you love each other and you stick together and you’ll back each other up, no matter what. So, there’s been plenty of trying times for Joe and I.
I think it’s a big misconception when everyone thinks it has just always been easy, and we just walked right into it, and it’s like a Cinderella story, because it’s really not.
Totally. What is your advice to someone who’s struggling with not getting along with their spouse’s family?
My advice is to hold on. I think that time kind of cures everything, and in time you learn how to cope and deal and it’s sometimes tricky because when it’s family they’re not going anywhere. You have to keep trying to find forgiveness in your heart and keep finding things make it seem better or feel better and it’s always a challenge because it’s family and so, I just say to keep trying, don’t give up because, you know, you got to just keep on trying.
When you signed onto this show, were you worried about thrusting your family issues into the public and how do you think or hope that this book will change the pubic perception of your family?
You know what, I wasn’t so worried about it.
I guess you never know what you’re gonna get yourself into when you’re doing it and then, you know, you think, “oh this will be fun, it won’t be bad, how bad can it be?” and then when you get on you’re like, “wow, it’s bigger than me,” you know, you understand what I mean?
It’s definitely something where we don’t have a lot of control in, but you put your life in TV’s hands which is always scary, but I think that in the end, people see how passionate we are, and how much we love each other as a family. Or else, you know, we wouldn’t argue the way we do, and we wouldn’t have the issues we have. We have it because we’re passionate.
We love one another and I think that people appreciate and can relate to us a lot.
How did you cope with the rumors that you were cheating on your husband while you were working on this guidebook to happy marriages?
You know what, I really didn’t cope with it. It wasn’t like a big deal in our house because it just was so kind of ridiculous. It was just one of those like ridiculous rumors where you don’t pay much attention and you kind of just laugh at it, so it really wasn’t a big deal for us in our life.
It was more to me … it wasn’t about the rumor. It was more about like, well where is this coming from and who was starting it.
A few of the Real Housewives – like Brandi Glanville, Carole Radziwill and Lisa Vanderpump – have already published books as well. Have you read any of them and do you have a favorite?
Brandi has a great book. Her book was fun and fresh and exciting. I really liked her book a lot.
So did I. So as both a published author and a recording artist, do you feel more passionate about your writing or your singing at this point in your life?
I mean I’ve always loved performing the best. It was always, you know, my favorite thing to do. But I have to say it was very fulfilling to write down my whole life in this book and be able to pass it on, so I love them both. But I think performing is always going to be something that, you know, it will always tickle me forever, but I have to say I really did enjoy this whole writing process.
It was very fulfilling and to have the actual book in front of me, to be able to pass it around to my family, it really is amazing.
I bet. Do you have an album or any new music coming out soon?
I have a new song out right now. It’s called “Never Let Me Go,” and it’s on iTunes.
We’re working on an EP right now. I started working with Johnny Wright, who is, you know, amazing, so, yeah we’re working on an EP and we’re working on getting “Never Let Me Go” on the radio and it’s all good from here. Good things.
Awesome. Well I know that you recently filmed the reunion for the current season – what can viewers look forward to seeing?
I think this is going to be a different reunion than what you’re used to from The Real Housewives of New Jersey. You’re going to see a lot of support and you know, there’s definitely gonna be some twists and turns that are unexpected, but it’s gonna be different than what you’re used to.
Do you get closure with figuring out where all the rumors about you were really coming from?
You’ll have to watch and see. Yeah.
Earlier this week, Bravo announced that Caroline Manzo was getting her own spin-off show.
What are your thoughts on that and have you talked to her about it yet?
I have. I told her how excited I am for her. I think it’s so great. I think she’s got such a great family and they have such a bond and I really, really wish them the best, and I’m happy for them.
Cool. Well you don’t have to tell me the details if you can’t, but are you and Teresa currently on speaking terms?
Yes we are.
Good! Well that’s it for me unless there’s anything else you wanted to add about the book or any other upcoming projects you may have?
No – it’s just the single is out right now and the book, and I have a bunch of book signings coming up. You can go to www.melissagorga.com for all my signings, and I just really love meeting the fans, so I can’t wait to meet everybody!