How the Pressures of Fame Impacted Tarek & Christina El Moussa's Marriage: 'The More She Started to Sparkle, the More He Regressed'

On Monday, PEOPLE reported that the couple have split after seven years of marriage

They’ve been secretly separated for months after an alarming incident involving a gun. Now HGTV’s Tarek and Christina El Moussa say they are committed to figuring out a future for their kids – and their business. Subscribe now to get an inside look into the dramatic split, only in PEOPLE!

Although Tarek and Christina El Moussa were portrayed as a happy, compatible married couple on their hit HGTV show Flip or Flop, the time spent on-screen began to take its toll when the cameras weren’t rolling.

On Monday, PEOPLE reported that the reality star couple would split after seven years of marriage following an altercation that involved a gun at their home in May. And while viewers may have been shocked to hear the news, an insider tells PEOPLE that those who know them “could have seen this coming.”

“Anyone who has spent a halfway decent amount of time with them could have seen this coming. In a lot of ways they just seemed wildly incompatible. She has champagne tastes and he’s a beer-from-a-can kind of guy. And that was okay for a while when all they could afford was canned beer — they were on the same page, working together to make it and to do the best with what they had. But the stardom from the show, and the money from the show, meant that she started to feel like she could finally have some of the finer things in life,” the insider says.

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“The more she started to sparkle and shine, the more he sort of regressed,” said the insider. “He just didn’t or doesn’t seem to love it the way she does — he’s more awkward on camera, he doesn’t love public speaking the same way, he wants to be a dude at home who has this day job which means going on TV, whereas she really loves being more a celebrity.”

The reality series, which features the former couple buying run-down Southern California homes, flipping and selling them, also “requires a decent degree of acting ability,” the source adds — something that “Christina was fully on board” with and Tarek has been more “reluctant” to do.


“It’s a performance, and Christina was fine with performing … Tarek was always always a more reluctant performer and a less willing actor,” the insider tells PEOPLE. “He’d pull it off, but he was never going to be a natural. And so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if at some point, he hit a wall and just got tired of acting about everything, because it all felt like a lie.”

The insider also tells PEOPLE that over time, Tarek became bothered by the recurring theme of the episodes: “He’s always in the wrong and she’s always right.”

“She’s always got the right design idea, or the right take on how much to spend, and he disagrees and then reluctantly gives in and then in the end he gives her credit for having been right about the decisions she insisted upon,” says the insider. “More than once he made jokes to me about basically having no balls on the show — after the cancer stuff, some viewers got a little too obsessed with whether or not he was too thin or looked too gaunt or whatever —and he said once, ‘Well, I have no balls on the show so who cares if I have no body fat, either?’ ”

  • For more on the El Moussas’ split, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

In a statement to PEOPLE on Monday, the El Moussas — who are now living apart and are both dating other people — said of their decision to separate, “We had an unfortunate misunderstanding about six months ago and the police were called to our house in an abundance of caution. There was no violence and no charges were filed.”

Moving forward, both Tarek and Christina, who are in the midst of their sixth season of the reality design series, affirmed that both work and family life will continue ahead: “During the process, we are committed to our kids and being the best parents we can be. We will continue to work through this process civilly and cooperatively, and plan to continue our professional life together.”

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