Alex McCord on the Gosselins: Your Relationship Should Be a Priority

06/25/2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

Alex McCord on the Gosselins: Your Relationship Should Be a Priority
Michael Caulfield/WireImage
As Jon and Kate Gosselin go their separate ways, another famous couple are weighing in on how to "stay in love" under the intense spotlight of reality TV.

The Real Housewives of New York’s Alex McCord, 35, and husband of nearly a decade, Simon van Kempen, say that the key to keeping their family together while starring in a TV show is to make your relationship a priority.

"Remember that you and your husband were there first," McCord told PEOPLE at the I Heart Gen Art 15th Anniversary benefit in New York City on Wednesday. "Remember that part of what makes raising your children a successful operation is having a successful relationship. And if you are not happy, I ... guarantee you will foist that off on your kids and they will pick up on it."

McCord and van Kempen, who have two young boys -- Johan, 5, and Francois, 3 -- also offered some words of advice for other reality TV couples.

"Obsessively communicate," McCord says. "Tell each other everything -- the good, the bad and the ugly. Today, even I thought to myself, 'You can either just tell him, or you can sit and let it fester' -- and that's when you get into trouble. So just come out with it, whatever it is."

"Look out for your marriage as much as you look out for your kids," adds van Kempen.

Says McCord: "It's all well and good to say, 'We couldn't keep it together but our kids will be fine.' But you're setting an example." -- Kristen MasciaMichael Caulfield/WireImage

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