Flip or Flop’s Christina El Moussa opens up about her very public divorce and why she’s “genuinely happy” for the first time in years. Subscribe now for the exclusive interview — only in PEOPLE!
It’s been nearly a year since Christina El Moussa secretly split from her husband Tarek and now the HGTV star is finally opening up about what went wrong in her marriage and how she’s finally found happiness.
The reality couple — who share daughter Taylor, 6, and son Braydon, 18 months — officially separated in May 2016 following an alarming incident involving a gun at the family’s home, but Christina says their marital problems started long before that.
“Like any couple, we had our share of issues,” she admits. “But we went through a lot in a short amount of time.”
When their Flip or Flop series launched in 2013, the pair was still getting adjusted to fame when Tarek was suddenly diagnosed with thyroid cancer. As he went through radiation treatment, Christina also began a grueling struggle to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization and suffered a miscarriage in 2014.
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After welcoming son Brayden, the mounting pressures of running their business piled up, and Christina went back to work just four weeks after giving birth. “It was too soon for me,” she says. “I was overwhelmed. The tension between me and Tarek was high.”
“We weren’t able to properly communicate anymore,” she says. “It got to the point where we weren’t even driving to set together.”
- For more from Christina El Moussa on how she’s coping with divorce in the spotlight, co-parenting and continuing to work with her ex, Tarek, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
After news of their split finally became public in December, Christina says she felt relief. “I think the separation process begins long before people actually separate,” she says now. “So by the time we officially did, I felt like a weight was lifted off me.”
Tarek officially filed for divorce on Jan. 9, but the couple has been candid about their decision to move on and date other people.
“Tarek and I don’t discuss each other’s personal lives,” she says. “It is what it is and we are going through a divorce and eventually we will be dating other people. I’m happy for him and whatever steps he takes in his life and I just hope he’s happy.”
As for what’s next for the newly single star, she has no plans to stop working with her soon-to-be ex anytime soon, though she’s also pursuing her own projects.
“It’s invigorating to know I am starting over,” she says. “It’s fun to be able to create my own destiny right now.”
As for the couple’s children, Christina said she and Tarek’s “primary” focus will always be their children.
“We’re just normal, nice people who just, you know, want to be the best parents and coworkers that we can be,” Christina said during a Tuesday appearance on Good Morning America, noting that co-parenting with Tarek is going well.
“Our kids are amazing … Our kids are transitioning well,” Christina said. “Tarek and I are friends and we have a lot of support from our family. The kids are doing great.”