Eight months after their secret split, Tarek and Christina El Moussa open up what went wrong in their 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!

Nearly eight months after they secretly split, Tarek and Christina El Moussa are opening up about their shocking separation and the bizarre incident involving a gun.

“We decided to separate while we reevaluated the next steps in our married life,” the couple tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “We believed this was in the best interests of the children and the best way to determine a path forward.”

Though they announced their split on Monday, the Flip or Flop stars hadn’t been together since May 23, when a “crying and shaking” Christina called police after Tarek fled their California home with a gun in his backpack following an altercation. He then hopped the fence in their back yard and took off into the Chino Hills State Park as 11 police cars and a helicopter were dispatched. Once he was spotted, the reality star complied with police orders and now the couple say his “intentions were misread.”

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“Tarek was going on a hike and took a gun for protection from mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and rattlesnakes,” they add. As for his weapon collection (which includes five firearms kept “unloaded and in a locked gun safe”) Tarek agreed to turn them over to police for 30 days.

Since then, both 35-year-old Tarek and 33-year-old Christina have been living apart and are trying to move on.

“We have both dated other people following the separation, but neither of us is ready to announce anything in terms of another relationship,” they say.

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

Despite their separate lives Tarek and Christina have no plans to split up their many businesses.

“We plan to continue our professional life together by being professional, by doing our jobs well, by being prepared and by working hard,” the couple explains. Currently filming for HGTV, they’re also releasing a book, Flip Your Life, in March.

For now, the couple says they has no plans to official file for divorce and their two children Taylor, 6, and Brayden, 16 months, are their No. 1 priority. “The most difficult part of the decision to separate was the kids. We want the best for them, and we’re doing everything we can to ensure that.”