Teresa and Joe Giudice Decide to Separate During Family Reunion in Italy on Emotional RHONJ Finale
It was an emotional reunion for the Giudice family on Wednesday’s season 10 finale of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
For the first time in nearly four years, Teresa Giudice, Joe Giudice and their four daughters were all seen together in the same place, gathering in Sala Consilina — a town in Salerno, Italy — where Joe has been living as he waits out the final decision in his ongoing deportation case.
“Daddy,” Gia, 19, Gabriella, 15, Milania, 14, and Audriana, 11, all screamed, as they ran to greet Joe outside his home.
The family of six then spent the next two days visiting with their extended relatives, and touring the Amalfi Coast.
Later, during a group meal, they all broke into tears as they reflected about all being together.
“Seeing my four daughters, it’s hard for me to even say it,” said Teresa. “I know you’ve been waiting for this day for so long. Seeing you as happy as you guys are just makes me happy and overjoyed.”
“My family has been on an emotional rollercoaster for four years now,” Gia told audiences. “It just makes you realize the little moments are what counts. Now I’m holding on to every little moment and cherishing it.”
Joe also used the time together to apologize to his family. “Girls, I’m sorry about everything that’s happened,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I gotta do and don’t worry about it. I’m going to keep us together always.”
The episode, which was filmed back in November, pulled on the heart strings of fans who have been following the Giudices through their ups and downs.
But it was also bittersweet, as it was where Teresa, 47, and Joe, 49, decided to go their separate ways after 20 years of marriage (PEOPLE reported the news exclusively back in December).
“There’s a lot of resentment that I’m going through,” Teresa said leading into the trip, citing anger over rumors of Joe’s infidelity, as well as their legal issues. “He was supposed to be my protector, but he let me down.”
Teresa appeared to carry that resentment with her to Italy, dodging affectionate gestures Joe made towards her.
“I know Joe’s trying to be sweet to me,” she explained. “I think Joe wants to be a couple again, but I haven’t been happy with Joe for a long time. I remember when I first got married to him everything was great. And I truly do not want to hurt him but sometimes you just can’t get over what happens and you just need to move on.”
Eventually, the two had a one-on-one conversation where they came to the agreement that their marriage was over.
Initially, Joe had proposed they “have fun” and try to make the distance work, suggesting the challenge could make their relationship stronger. But Teresa insisted, “I want someone with me every single day.”
“The past five years have been really dark,” she told him. “You’ve said a lot of hurtful things to me. It just makes me think about a lot of things. You marry someone, they’re supposed to protect you. I trusted you and then you made s— happen.”
As angry as she was, Joe couldn’t accept responsibility for his actions. “My crime was a bogus crime,” he said. “People don’t even do time for that kind of crap.”
That didn’t help Teresa. “It’s so infuriating to me, after four years of us both doing time, he still had not taken responsibility for what he’s done,” she told audiences. “He hasn’t changed.”
In the end, both insisted that they didn’t want there to be tension between the two of them.
“Never in a million years would I ever want to hurt you,” Teresa said. “I hope you know that, right? I just want you to know that no matter what, I just want you to be happy endlessly.”
“The same goes to you,” Joe said.
Teresa then looked forward to her own future. “The last five years, we’ve been through a lot,” she reflected. “Of course I put everyone else’s needs before my own. Now that this is closed, I can start thinking about what makes Teresa happy.”
Joe and Teresa’s legal problems began in July 2013, when they were both indicted on federal fraud charges. Each were accused of exaggerating their income while applying for loans before RHONJ debuted, then hiding their improved fortunes in a bankruptcy filing. Joe was also accused of failing to file tax returns between 2004 and 2008.
They pled guilty to mail, wire, and bankruptcy fraud in October 2014. In addition to probation and fines, Teresa was sentenced to 15 months in prison, while Joe was sentenced to 41 months.
Her term began first, on Jan. 5, 2015. She was released from federal prison in December 2015 after serving 11 months.
Joe began his sentence for the same crimes in March 2016, and was released three years later, in March 2019. But months before that, a court ordered his deportation, as he lived in the United States since he was a child and never obtained American citizenship.
While appealing the decision, Joe moved into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Clinton County Correctional Center in Pennsylvania. Two appeals against the ruling were denied. A final appeal is still pending.
A petition to be released back to his home wasn’t granted, but a request to go to Italy was. In October, he was released from ICE custody and flew to Italy, where he has since been working to make money for his family.
Meanwhile, Joe and Teresa have remained amicable since the separation, supporting one another in loving comments on social media.
Just over the weekend, Joe opened up about their split, saying that he knew his marriage with Teresa was over during the first night of their Italy reunion, when Teresa said she felt uncomfortable about sleeping in the same bed with her husband.
Viewers saw Teresa make that admission on Wednesday’s finale.
“My ‘AHA moment!’ ” Joe wrote, sharing a clip from the episode. “That was my moment of insight. I felt rejected. This is the first time while filming a scene, I had severe anxiety and grief. I was [locked] up for four years, any human would have a psychological impact of prison life.”
“This was the moment, I knew deep in my heart she was being difficult with me for a reason,” he continued. “My wife has never said no to sleeping with me. I had to walk away. I don’t have resentment against her (her emotions are justified). It was off guard should have been private.”
He added, “I realized I must be responsible for only my kids that’s what matters. I want to provide, encourage, embrace them with my love in limited time together.”
The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.