05/12/2009 at 03:00 PM EDT
She's embroiled in a public scandal
linking her husband, Jon Gosselin, to another woman, and Kate Gosselin tells PEOPLE in its latest cover story that she and her spouse have been privately struggling for months.
"I don't know that we're in the same place anymore, that we want the same thing," she says quietly. "I've been struggling with the question of 'Who is this person?' for a while. I remember where I was the first time I heard her name. It's one of those things where you can try to make it go away, but there's blaring, red flashing lights."
The name to which Kate refers belongs to 23-year-old
Deanna Hummel, whose brother later claimed she'd been having a months-long affair with Jon.
For Kate, who has referred to her husband as "my balance, my strength and my stability," to now consider a future apart has been heartbreaking but not impossible. "You can't imagine yourself in a certain position when all this first happens, but you can do it over some months," she says.
"It's a lot like when I was first pregnant with the babies, and it was pure shock and denial. But over time I imagined six cribs in my house, and six car seats. When your mind is ready to go there, you can accept any number of scenarios."
Kate does have hope, however, that her marriage can be saved. "I will never give up hope that every member of our family can be absolutely happy again," she says.
For the complete story on Kate and Jon – including how they're weathering the scandal and what their eight children think – pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday