Is anybody else still suffering post-traumatic stress from watching the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" reunion specials the last couple of weeks? I'm almost sick to admit that I'm addicted. I never wanted to tell anybody that I was a superfan, but I couldn't look away in case I missed something even more off-the-wall.
While I'd like to go on all day about how horrified I am by the show -- especially by the fact that beautiful Lauren felt the need to go through lap band surgery to lose 35 pounds -- on the brighter side, I'm very, very happy to report that I see several very rock-solid marriages in that ensemble of people and I think it's worth talking about. It isn't often that people really put their families and their marriages that far out there in the public eye for scrutiny -- it may seem like it, but when have you seen this much dirty laundry on one show? The good news is that there are some good examples of solid marriages that can serve as an example to those of us who are addicted. I know, that's like claiming the nuts in a Snickers bar add nutritional value. But you get the idea.
So here we go -- my armchair psychologist/self-appointed marital expert self will share her opinions on the Jersey "Housewives'" marriages:
Caroline and what's-his-face are a team, and despite getting some boosts from family, all their kids are gainfully employed and working. I think any parent who can help their kid get on their grown-up feet should -- and I applaud them. They will be together forever.
Kathy and Richie are obviously each other's wingmen (but if my husband ever made any reference to "fish" in any way to anyone about me, I would have him disposed of like a dead tuna), and they seem to be raising bright, well-adjusted children in the limelight. He needs to stay away from her business ventures because he undermines her and makes himself look stupid. I don't think it's intentional. I just think he's an ass. They will be married for a long time unless he makes another one of those fish references.
My own marriage to my husband Bill is a combination of Jacqueline/Chris and Melissa/Joe. Jacqueline obviously has a lot going on (autistic son, difficult daughter, BFF issues) and her husband has made it damn clear that his number one priority is protecting her from further emotional damage. He tried to make things better behind the scenes for her by talking to Teresa's husband before the RV trip, but that guy is about as receptive as a brick wall so it was a total waste. Chris still gets points for trying. Who knows what is going to happen there long-term. I'd hope that Nick's autism brings them closer instead of driving a wedge. That's a heck of a stresser on a marriage.
My husband Bill is a lot like Chris in our marriage -- he tries his best to protect me from the inevitable heartache and pain associated with life, love, family and friendships. He lets me handle myself and my own business, but if you cross a line, he will step in and intervene. He calls it the IV Rule. When I was in the hospital a few years ago, they had trouble with my IVs and I had to have several different ones installed in a couple days. It hurt and I tried not to yipe, but Bill is less forgiving. You get two sticks at his wife and after that, you better go get somebody else. If you make me cry, you should just plain run. That applies to every aspect of our marriage and life -- not just at the doctor's office.
Melissa and Joe are rock-freaking-solid... even if he is a little freaky. It doesn't matter if anybody else thinks she can sing or that she was a stripper, he doesn't care or is OK with it or whatever. That blood is thicker than water crap goes away when you get married. Once you get married, your spouse becomes your lifeline. If you hurt Melissa, Joe will come after you. I must admit that as a cop's wife, it's a quality I admire. Bill can't run around hitting people for me, unfortunately. But it helps that he scares the hell out of them. Joe's enthusiasm for every venture Melissa endeavors is absolutely fantastic, and he's just like my husband in that way. When I said let's give up Washington, DC, and solid careers, and move to the Caribbean to plan weddings, he believed in me and retired. No matter what anybody else anywhere may think, Bill loves and supports me and believes I can achieve anything that I set out to do. Joe's the same way about Melissa. Their kids are going to do great if they don't turn them into little stars before they get the chance to have a real childhood -- Melissa seems like a really fun mom.
And in the not-so-solid camp there's Teresa and Joe. They are a hot mess and everyone in America knows it. There are times when you take one for the team because it's best for your family and your future (Hillary Clinton after Monica, for example), but when your husband publicly humiliates you to get his jollies on a family trip with an entire camera crew¸ the marriage is completely over. If I were her friend (she must have some friends left who aren't on the show and don't have the name "Kim"), I'd sit her down to make a pros and cons list about why she should even be considering staying married to this future jailbird. Money, children, position, yada yada yada... dude doesn't love you Teresa. He's a mean bastard who talks to you like you are trash in front of a camera crew. He tells you to shut up and you do. You whine at him so much that he hasn't heard you in years. Your children are going to be all messed up if you don't get them out of that house. What the hell are you thinking???
I used to admire Teresa's tenacity. I do think she gets set up by the other girls (what is it about the name Kim?) and I think that she has done an incredible job with merchandizing herself and saving her family's finances given the mess her husband created. She didn't give up -- she busted her ass to make lemonade out of really bitter lemons (although I lost a lot of respect when it was revealed that her blogs are ghost written -- I work so hard on mine that I can't help but be a little pissed). Unfortunately, while she was climbing out of the hole she and Joe had dug for themselves, she didn't pay attention to who she was stepping on and steamrolling in the process. Teresa needs to leave Joe's butt and take the girls someplace they can all have a fresh start. Or get her own show IN ANOTHER CITY. Let her sink or swim like Bethenny Frankel.
I wish each and every one of these couples the best of luck in surviving their success, so to speak. Nobody knows the motives of any couple who would willingly open their homes and lives to the kind of scrutiny these people have. I don't think it's just about fame. But I truly thank the whole cast for providing the many, many hours of mindless entertainment. I always feel better about myself after a DVR binge on them.