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Real Housewives of New Jersey television star Melissa Gorga shows you how to love your man and keep him happy, satisfied, faithful, and devoted to you.
What you see is what you get with Melissa Gorga. On Real Housewives of New Jersey, she's that beautiful, ambitious woman with a successful career who puts her family first. In fact, her stable yet sexy marriage to lovable Joe is a welcome antidote to the constant fighting and backbiting on the show. Despite the pressure of life in the spotlight, she makes marriage look easy. How does she do it? Melissa's overriding principle: Treat your husband like a king! And in return, you'll be treated like a queen!
In Love Italian Style, Melissa shares her (and his) secrets to relationship success-generations-tested old-fashioned values served up with a modern, sexy twist. To her, the four tenets to a happy marriage are respect, honesty, loyalty, and passion (underscore passion). By sharing her and Joe's life together-from the story of their first date to how they still keep it hot in the bedroom a decade later-Melissa admits that, yes, marriage has been a lot of work, but the rewards are ten-fold. With her time-tested strategies, you can "Gorganize" your own relationship, strengthen your bond, and amp up the passion for lifelong bliss. Some of Melissa's how-to's:
· Dress to impress your man.
· Flirt with your hubby.
· Cook Italian style.
· Fight right.
· Keep the romance alive and the home fires burning.
· Raise little princes and princesses.
This playful guidebook promises to make any marriage better-the Gorga way!
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MELISSA GORGA and her husband, Joe Gorga, have been married for nine years. They have three beautiful children-Antonia, Gino, and Joey. A housewife and proud of it, Melissa blends old-school Italian values with a modern lifestyle that allows her to follow her passion. As a recording artist with multiple songs breaking the top ten Dance/R&B charts on iTunes, including "On Display" and "How Many Times," she has a blossoming music career. Love Italian Style: The Secrets of My Hot and Happy Marriage is her first book, and she hopes you have as much fun reading it as she did writing it!Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The First Man in My Life
It’s no joke that I married my father. Anthony Marco was, like Joe Gorga, a Leo, in the construction business, Italian, and from Jersey. He and my mother raised my two sisters and me in a comfortable house in Toms River. My father’s job was investing in properties, and building and selling them. We were the first family to get a Lincoln Town Car on our block, in 1989. I’ll never forget the Christmas that my father surprised my mother with his and hers Rolex watches. I thought it was so sweet and romantic. We always had new clothes, plenty of food to eat, and some luxuries. But I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth by any stretch of the imagination.
My parents got together when they were seventeen years old, and kept that teenage, obsessive love going for all their years together. Anthony was Donna’s one and only, her first and only. They had a traditional marriage. He went to work, and she stayed home with the three girls. My sisters Kim and Lysa were ten and twelve years older than me. I was the baby, their doll. They’d dress me up and play with my hair. I’d stand on the coffee table in the living room and sing. My father loved it when I sang, and always broke out the Camcorder to make a video. By the time I was eight, my sisters were eighteen and twenty. I always felt like I had three moms. My mother and father treated me like an only child. I was their baby, and they fussed over me.
This idyllic life came crashing down when I was a freshman in high school. I tried out for the freshman cheerleading squad. The coach posted the final list, and my name wasn’t there. All my friends were on it, though. I was devastated. I congratulated them, and they took pity on me.
Then, the coach put up the final list for varsity. My name was up there. I was as shocked as everyone else. This was unheard of, for a freshman to make varsity. My friends—so consoling when they thought I’d been cut from the freshman squad—were now sharpening their claws.
The older girls on varsity hated me, too. They screamed at me, pulled my hair, threatened me in the locker room and humiliated me in public. The school mascot was a pirate. They forced me to wear the smelly ridiculous pirate costume and run around the field all season.
I know, I know. First-world white girl problems. “The cheerleaders were mean to me!” story might not trigger much sympathy. The hazing was relatively mild. They didn’t cut me, or put me in the hospital. But they did humiliate and torment me for no apparent reason. I hadn’t done or said a thing to any of them, and yet they despised me with blazing irrational fury. The cheerleaders were my teammates. They were supposed to have my back. Instead, they were behind it, with knives. The rejection stung.
The cheerleader thumping, however, was a mere taste of what was to come. When I was a junior, my parents decided to move to Boca Raton. I was thrilled when I heard the news. I spontaneously broke out into a cheer. Gimme an F! Gimme an L! Gimme an O … you get the idea. I didn’t know much about Florida, but any change would be great. And, year-round sunshine was a bonus.
Day one at Boca High, my new classmates sized me up as a freak. I had curves and wore a jean jacket. My dark skin and hair were marks of the devil to the pastel-draped skinny blue-eyed blond Florida girls. They viciously mocked my accent (can’t say I blame them). The boys, meanwhile, were licking their chops and telling me how exotic I looked.
According to the Boca Bitches, my being Italian and from up North could mean only one thing: I was a slut. The opposite was true. I hadn’t so much as kissed a boy. In Jersey, I was considered a prude. I bit my lip and put on a brave front no matter what was said about me, and waited for things to change.
About a month into the school year, one of the Boca Bitches called me at home. “Hey, Melissa. We want to take you to a party,” she said.
I was psyched. Finally, they like me, I thought. Poor gullible, needy me. If I could go back in time to that phone conversation, I’d smack myself in the head and say, Don’t trust her! Instead, in my excitement, I volunteered to drive her and two other girls to the party.
They said the party was outdoors in a neighboring town. I had no idea where it was, or where I was driving. I was new to the area and it was pitch black out. I just followed their directions.
“This is it,” said the leader of the pack. I pulled into a driveway. We all hopped out of the car. As quickly as I thought I had “arrived,” instantly, thirty girls surrounded me. What the … I turned to ask the girls who had invited me, and they looked back at me with a blank stare.
These girls wasted no time. One quickly rushed up to me and punched me. Bam. Full force, right in the nose. Instantly, it started bleeding.
I was so shocked, it didn’t even hurt at first. About an hour later, my nose started throbbing and didn’t stop for days.
This maniac girl rubbed her knuckles and accused me of sleeping with her boyfriend. I barely knew the kid. We’d spoken two words to each other. When did saying “Hey” to a guy in the hallway mean that you were having sex with him?
“I’m a virgin,” I said to defend myself. It was the embarrassing truth. Yes, despite growing up at the corner of Whore and Skank Streets, or so they thought, I hadn’t done the deed. Not even close. The girl didn’t care. She already made up in her mind that I was to blame for her problems, even though I’d done nothing but be nice. (An interesting foreshadowing, as seen on RHONJ.)
The thirty girls were now slamming their fists on the roof of the car. It was like a scene from a gang movie that ended with me slumped and alone in the car. Desperate to flee, I hopped back in and started tapping the gas, hoping the girls would move out of the way. But they kept beating on the roof, the hood and the doors.
Fearing for my life, I stepped harder on the gas, making the car lurch forward. They finally cleared a path, and I floored it—right into a dead end. I had to turn around and drive through the pack again. This time, they threw rocks at me as I sped by.
Crying hysterically, I could barely see as I drove. It was a miracle I found my way home at all without crashing. My mother was horrified when I burst through the door with a bloody nose and red swollen eyes. When I finally stopped sobbing, I begged her to take me back to Toms River. I’d seen enough of the South to last the rest of my life.
My mother got on the phone to call my father. He’d stayed back in New Jersey, tying up loose ends. She told him what happened. He said, “Look, I’ll be finished with my business in a month. Just hang on until I get down there.”
A total Daddy’s girl, I was instantly comforted. As soon as he arrived, he’d protect me and make it better. He’d keep me safe. No one would mess with me then. I sniffed back my tears. One month seemed like an eternity to wait for him. But I knew it wasn’t really that long. I stayed focused on how incredible it would be when he finally walked through the door. I’d throw my arms around him, and never let go.
I counted the days, which made the wait harder and easier at the same time. I turned seventeen during that month, on March 21. Traditionally, my father bought me jewelry for my birthday gift. I don’t know why, but that year, he sent me a card. I remember thinking, This is weird. He’d never given me a card just from him. Usually, a card was attached to my gift, and signed by both of my parents. As weird as it seemed, I loved it and immediately called him to thank him. “Daddy, I love my card. Thank you so much. It means the world to me.” His handwritten note read as follows: “Melissa: Even though you are growing up, you will always be my little girl. And, no matter what, I will always love you and be there for you no matter what. I will always love my baby girl. Love, Daddy.” Thank God I didn’t pull a classic seventeen-year-old move, and toss the card. I still have it, in fact. It was as if I knew I should keep it and my father knew he had to tell me something and make it tangible for me to hold onto.
Eight days later, on March 29, I was at my girlfriend’s house for a sleepover. My mother called very late at night on the phone. She was screaming and crying. “Melissa, your father was in an accident. He hit a tree and he died,” she said. I dropped to my knees, and started howling. I threw the phone.
My friend asked, “What’s going on? Are you okay?”
I couldn’t speak. I was in complete shock.
My aunt came to pick me up, and brought me back to my house. My grandmother and uncles were there. My mom was in the corner crying. We booked flights back to New Jersey. Tissues were everywhere, everyone in a panic. It was a sad scene.
My mother had been alone when she got the news. I pieced the story together later on. It was a rainy night. He was driving around a corner, and hit a tree. He died alone on the road. He was only forty-nine years old.
It took me a while to believe it. The shock knocked me out of my body. I felt like I was standing next to myself, looking with sadness at the girl who just lost her father. The trouble I’d had with the mean girls, which I had thought were huge problems, shrank to the size of a grain of sand. I did not know what pain really felt like until that moment. And, it got much worse as the days wore on.
Every morning was painful. When I opened my eyes, I wanted to immediately shut them again. I prayed that it was all a bad dream, that I would wake up and my father would still be alive. I remember going back and forth between feelings of complete and utter despair and terrible anger. There were many times I wished I could scream at him and ask him why he didn’t have his seat belt on. If he would have had it on, he could have met my children today. It was hard not to be angry at him, but I missed him so much that most of my days were filled with tears.
In the fog of grief, my mother and I found out that we were dead broke. All of my father’s money was tied up in the properties that he had bought to develop. After he died, the men he was in business with continued it and paid us nothing. Since the business was done on handshakes, not contracts, my Mother had no proof of my father’s investments. They refused to give us a penny. There was no life insurance. No college fund. Hardly any savings. All we had in the world was our possessions, still in boxes on the floor of our Florida rental.
In an instant, the half a second that wheels spun out of control on the wet pavement, I lost my father and my future. My mother was equally devastated. She had been with my father since she was seventeen years old. She did not know a life without him. Nor did my sisters and I. Every next move we made seemed like walking in quicksand. Even breathing was hard. He was our anchor. We did our best to comfort each other, but we were overwhelmed. I must have radiated misery. Even the Boca Bitches took pity on me and left me alone. By then, it didn’t matter what they said or did. I wouldn’t have felt it anyway. Grief was my only emotion. A hole had replaced my heart.
I wanted all my memories of my father to be the good ones. I replayed over in over in my head the many times he took me to the Jersey Shore and put me on rides on the boardwalk over and over again. And, all the times he would take out his big Camcorder and video tape me singing and dancing on my living room table. He always told me I was his star. I will never forget the 34-foot Silverton boat that we spent so many weekends on. I can still see the bold rose-colored script on the back of the boat. He named it: My 4 Girls.
At the funeral in New Jersey, my father’s brother and my godfather, Uncle Johnny, gave me a tight hug. He said, “You have a great future ahead of you, Melissa. I won’t let this tragedy ruin your life. I’m your godfather. It’s my responsibility to step up. I’m going to help you go to college.” I heard his words, and appreciated his offer. It was a long time before I could wade through my depression and accept it.
We went back to Florida. My Mother had some prior experience in nursing, and she got a job to support us.
At this time in my life, I kind of rebelled. One day, my friend and I were out shopping. I put on a $19 sweater at a store. Even though I had enough money to cover it in my wallet, I walked out with the sweater on. The store clerk busted me. He pulled me into the back room and called my mother. She was furious, but she also understood that I was a little out of control then after my father’s death. We got a court date. The judge asked us to pay a fine and the shoplifting charge was expunged.
I also made some rocky choices about men. I was attracted to the bad boys. I had this urge to control them and turn them into something good. My OCD kicked in, and I wouldn’t let up until they’d transformed. My bad boys were like my own personal sociology project. By sheer force of will, I wanted to change them into nicer, sober, non-cheating non-douche bags. Yes, I had crazy love-hate relationships. The “I can’t live without you, I can’t stand the sight of you!” type that define the young, stupid era of life. You have to go through that period to know what you don’t want, and definitely the kind of man you would never marry. The man I did choose to marry was the exact opposite. My bad boy projects failed. Assholes don’t change. If I had known that at eighteen, I’m sure I would have made a lot of different choices about the men I hung out with.
I pushed on, too, and made it through my classes. Most of my emotional energy went into my schoolwork and my mother. Eventually I was accepted into a four-year college in Jersey City to study elementary school education. A pinhole of light penetrated the fog of grief. I was moving on. I would have a future.
True to his word, Uncle Johnny, God bless him, helped with tuition. I found an apartment with roommates and worked three jobs while attending classes in order to pay the rent. I might have started out the spoiled baby of the family, but any bratty sense of entitlement was gone. I was my own woman now. I had only myself to fall back on.
I was envious of girls with daddies to turn to. They could make a call, and their fathers would swoop in to fix their car brakes, give them a loan, or make them feel treasured and special. I missed that closeness. I found myself drawn to a certain kind of man, a father figure who made me feel protected and would tell me right from wrong. They weren’t older than me per se. It was the authoritative and instructive personality type—someone who could take charge—that attracted me. I know a lot of women wouldn’t like that. But I responded to it.
Between work and school, though, I didn’t date a lot. Oh, I managed to kiss my share of frogs along the way. But no one guy held my trust. My goal was to become an elementary school teacher. Without family money or a business to fall back on, I was responsible for my own livelihood. Losing my father made me realize that you can’t rely on a man to take care of you. You have no idea what might happen down the road. He might toss you over for another woman. He might bust out. Or, as I knew only too well, you could turnaround, and he’d be gone. I vowed that that would not happen to me. I was not going to put my security in the hands of a man.
When I went...
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