Never say never. It’s a lesson Teresa Giudice learned the hard way. Back in the early aughts, when the Real Housewives of New Jersey star agreed to husband Joe Giudice‘s request that she take out loans in her name for two homes he was remodeling, she never dreamed it would lead to a nearly yearlong prison stay.
But five years after the pair filed for bankruptcy in 2009, they were indicted on 39 counts, including bankruptcy fraud. And after the mom of Gia, 16, Gabriella, 12, Milania, 11, and Audriana, 8, finished her 11-month sentence in December 2015, Joe, 45, checked into New Jersey’s Fort Dix Correctional Institution for his three-plus-year stay.
“I would have never thought in a million years that I would have gone to jail,” notes the Bravo star. So when asked if her 18-year marriage to Italian-born Joe can survive his time away — and the knowledge that his actions made her a felon — she admits her script can flip. “Will I still be married to Joe in 40 years? I have no idea,” reveals the Standing Strong author. “You don’t know what life will bring.”
Now standing strong on her own, the 45-year-old shares her predictions with Us.
Chapter one of your book, you admit you’re still angry with Joe.
Oh yeah. I know he didn’t mean to do it intentionally, but I’m still mad at the situation. He should have been on top of everything!
A lot of people are shocked that you haven’t left him. Have you ever thought, “I’m done”?
Your former pal Kim DePaolo has been telling people you have a boyfriend. Is that true?
No! I’m surprised it took over a year for something like that to come out about me. I have a lot of guy friends. I really don’t care what people think — I’m not living in a bubble, I have to go on with my life. And when I was away, Joe was photographed with girls and he told me, “Listen, they were with my friends,” and I said, “OK, fine.”
Have you been able to forgive him for all this?
When he gets home, we’ll see. We have to ride this whole thing out. He has to serve his time, come home and do amazing. And then I’ll answer that question. But I am giving him a chance. That’s why I’m standing by him.
How is he doing in jail?
He definitely feels a lot of guilt. When he came to see me in jail, he cried all the time. Joe is more sentimental than I am.
What’s been the toughest part of him being away?
I wear so many hats: I’m a mom, I’m a dad, I have to take them to their activities, I have to worry about the house, then I have to work to support everyone!
Why write another book with so much on your plate?
TG: I can’t take a break! I have four daughters, so I have to keep going. This is going to be my best. I finally open up.
How often do you visit?
In the beginning, we could go Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the weekend. Now they got strict — no more Sundays, which is hard. Saturdays are OK but the girls have their activities and sports that day. I tell them, “Don’t worry about it. Do your thing, be a kid.” Once a month is enough.
You wrote you didn’t give him advice.
Yeah, no. You’re a big boy, you got yourself into this, you have to get yourself out. I’m hard-core with that.
What did you learn from jail?
I’m never signing anything ever again. I think we should keep things separate. So in that way, we kinda will be divorced.
If you could go back, would you say no to Housewives?
Definitely. I wish I never put my husband on TV. He looks back on how he was on the show and feels bad that he was so s—ty on TV. He’s not like that in real life.
Now when you walk in a room, do you worry that everyone is talking about you?
No. I’m pretty confident. That’s what helps me stay strong. I know in my heart nothing was done intentionally. I know I’m a good person. I don’t think I can be taken down.
Teresa’s new memoir, Standing Strong, hits bookstores on October 3. The Real Housewives of New Jersey season 8 premieres on Bravo on October 4 at 9 p.m. ET.
For more of our interview with Teresa, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on newsstands now!
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