The real reason the Flip or Flop stars are divorcing

Tarek and Christina El Moussa announced their separation on Dec. 12, 2016, despite putting on a united front on their HGTV hit Flip or Flop (2013-). What happened to this once-golden TV couple? It turns out, there may have been more problems than the public realized.

The harrowing gun incident

According to TMZ, police responded to a call at the El Moussas' Orange County, Calif. home in May 2016 with a "massive presence," including a helicopter and 11 deputies. Witnesses claimed Tarek took a gun from a safe and fled through the back door of the house and then down a hiking trail. Christina also reportedly left the house sobbing. The police soon located Tarek and ordered him to drop his weapon. Tarek complied with the officers' orders, insisting he didn't intend to hurt himself and just wanted to hunt rattlesnakes and mountain lions to "blow off some steam." Police seized five guns from the couple's home, reported TMZ.

The Daily Mail reported that a week before the incident, Tarek was spotted at shooting practice. In fact, this video of Tarek was originally posted to his Instagram account but has since been deleted.

After the incident, the El Moussas told People, "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."

They're incompatible

A source told People that Christina and Tarek are fundamentally different. "In a lot of ways they just seemed wildly incompatible," the source said. "She has champagne tastes, and he's a beer-from-a-can kind of guy…that was okay for a while, when all they could afford was canned beer…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." After hitting it big, the source alleged Tarek grew uncomfortable with Christina's spending and lavish lifestyle. "He just couldn't or didn't want to keep up," the insider claimed.

Their seminars have come under fire

Tarek and Christina were both figureheads for a real estate seminar on flipping houses, but that didn't go over well with all attendees, which may have produced stress that manifested as marital strife.

In Touch reported that customers in Ohio and Iowa requested their respective Attorney General's Offices investigate the El Moussas' "Success Path" program. One Iowa resident, Laura Ingersoll, claimed the seminar "suckered her" out of more than $41,000. The Attorney General's office reportedly helped Ingersoll recoup all but $3,000 of her losses. "Our Consumer Protection Division contacted Shane Andrus with Premier Mentoring after the consumer filed a complaint," a spokesperson for the Iowa Attorney General's office said. "After reviewing the company's contract with the consumer, we informed Mr. Andrus that it was our position that the contract did not comply with the Iowa Door-to-Door Sales Act. The company agreed to issue a refund to the consumer." Not everyone has been successful in their endeavors to recover cash. One angry customer in Florida claimed she paid $80,000 for courses and remains $90,000 in debt.

More money, more problems

An insider told Hollywood Life the couple has so many financial dealings and entanglements together that a breakup won't be easy in terms of dividing up their assets. A source claimed, "They own multiple properties, luxury cars including a Bentley and an Escalade, tons of cash and lots of other big-ticket items too. She is currently living with their kids in their massive $3 million dollar home in Yorba Linda, Calif. and Tarek's presence in the house has been replaced by a team of nannies. Their plan for now is to continue to co-mingle their financial lives until they can figure out an amicable dissolution of assets." TMZ reported they also have a yacht together.

Additionally, the stars still have their show together and a book, Flipping Your Life, hitting shelves in March 2017 that they'll need to promote. They told People, "We plan to continue our professional life together by being professional, by doing our jobs well, by being prepared and by working hard."

Tarek had a health scare

After a concerned viewer reportedly emailed the El Moussas, Tarek reportedly went to the doctor and tested positive for thyroid cancer in June 2013. He's in remission but admitted it's been a difficult journey, both emotionally and physically. "Getting rid of your thyroid and being given different hormones and T3 and T4, surgery, and the radioactive iodine," he told Pop Sugar. "It messes with your system. And it was really hard to find the right balance. Because you get anxiety, you get really tired you get lethargic, you gain weight,…It took a long time just to get to the point where I was feeling better. And that was just medication-wise, so it was definitely a tough process."

Tarek told People he still feels the effects of the illness. "I feel good, but I don't have the energy I used to have. The only thing is most days or like half the time I feel a little jetlagged. I'm really tired…There is always that chance of reoccurrence but every year that goes by the odds of reoccurrence goes down so it's good." He noted, "I have slowed down quite a bit. Which is actually a good thing because I can actually relax now."

Fertility struggles impacted their family

When Tarek was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, he wasn't the only one who had to deal with the physical repercussions of the illness. He and Christina had reportedly planned on having a second child and had to make big adjustments to make sure it happened. "We found out Tarek had cancer, and we asked the doctor if that would affect our chances of having a child," Christina told People. "They said that if you go through radiation, which Tarek had too, then you should not get pregnant from that sperm from six months to a year. So, right away, we did sperm banking and [tried] IVF."

The couple experienced two failed attempts at IVF, with one round resulting in a miscarriage, before conceiving son Brayden in August 2015. "I had to be super strict," Christina told People. "I had to do one full week in bed. For 13 weeks after that, I couldn't go for a walk and couldn't lift anything over a gallon of milk. We planned it during Christmas break so I wasn't working. We did everything we could to make sure this one worked." Understandably, this ordeal likely took a toll on their relationship.

Are they bamboozling customers?

As clients nationwide attack their business practices, it's hard to imagine the intense criticism hasn't caused some friction at home.

Bad press about their seminars continues to mount. The Dallas Morning News reported that Tarek and Christina were heavily marketed for a Success Path appearance at a seminar, but never showed up. Multiple reports suggest they rarely do, replaced by giant posters of the duo instead. Attendee Kirby Lee told the Dallas News, "The main focus [of the seminar] was to get attendees to sign up for more courses and workshops. It was highly pressurized. If you said 'no thanks' to the enormous opportunity presented in front of you, you were pretty much called a loser and a dolt to your face by the coaches in the room." He added, "They continually hammered at you to buy their product. We were encouraged to max out credit cards, increase credit limits, liquidate retirements and pensions, borrow from relatives—all to buy these courses and become successful beyond your expectations."

The methods the seminars teach aren't even sound, experts allege. "The whole thing is a scam," real estate broker James Wise told In Touch. "They're teaching a business plan that sounds ap­pealing but it just won't work. They're giving false advice."

For their part, the El Moussas deny any shadiness. "More than 50,000 people have at­tended our seminars over the past three years and there have been less than 20 complaints," the couple said in a statement. "People have gone on to change their lives and achieve their dreams using our models and strategy."

Their divorce may be contentious

TMZ reports that Tarek, 36, officially filed for divorce from estranged wife Christina, 33, in January 2017. Documents obtained by the site show that Tarek cited the ever-reliable "irreconcilable differences" for the split. He requested spousal support from Christina, but also requested that a judge block her from requesting any support from him. At the time, he requested joint custody of son Brayden, 1, and daughter Taylor, 6. The kids, as previously mentioned, currently are staying with Christina, with Tarek visiting regularly. A source told TMZ, "[The divorce is] civilized, or as best it can be under the circumstances. They have to make it work if they want to continue monetizing what they do."

She hooked up with a contractor pal

A source told People the El Moussas' breakup after seven years of marriage didn't happen because of the aforementioned fight or because of infidelity. Instead, insiders claimed both Christina and Tarek had flipped their relationship and started dating other people months before their breakup announcement. According to TMZ, Christina was allegedly getting serious with contractor Gary Anderson, a friend of the couple, who was reportedly at their home the day of the domestic debacle and who served as a witness for police. Sources told the tab that Christina and Gary's relationship turned romantic after the incident.

Sources told TMZ that Christina was completely over her marriage and not open to reconciling with Tarek. However, an insider did say she would remain amicable with her ex for the sake of co-parenting their children.

He hooked up with the nanny

Tarek supposedly hasn't settled down with anyone else yet, though sources say he's seeing other people, including the nanny. According to TMZ, Tarek "hooked up with 23-year-old Alyssa Logan," who'd worked for the couple as a personal assistant and caregiver to their kids. The tab claimed Tarek and Logan did not mix business and pleasure while he was still with Christina and employed by the family. TMZ published a photo of Tarek and Logan at a Florida Georgia Line concert in October 2016 but claims they went their separate ways later that month. According to People, the kids are residing with Christina, and Tarek visits them several times a week.

Tarek has a history of dramatic splits

Tarek is no stranger to acrimonious breakups. Radar Online reported that in 2003, he filed a restraining order against an ex-girlfriend. That frightening history may make him less trusting and more apprehensive in all his relationships.

In documents obtained by Radar, Tarek lamented, "I work full time and go to school at the university full time. I am in bed by 11 and on-and-off for three years, I get calls in the middle of the night that wake me up. Sometimes she doesn't say anything and her friends laugh in the background. Other times she will say, 'I love you. I miss you. Why do you hate me? Can't we be together?'" He added, "When I'm not getting these calls, she has guys call me saying their [sic] going to f**k me up, key my car, jump me, shoot me, etc. She tells people awful things about me that aren't true that threaten my reputation as a real estate agent." He continued, "The reason this all started was at the end of high school we dated and I left her for another girl who is now my girlfriend of almost three years. I think she needs help from a counselor to get over her anger and issues. I want her to stay 100 percent away from me."

Tarek was suspicious of Christina

A source told In Touch Weekly that Tarek thought something was up between Christina and Anderson before the El Moussas went public about their split—which may explain why Anderson was present when Tarek and Christina had their massive fight. "Christina grew close to Gary," the insider said. "Tarek was suspicious that she was getting involved with someone but had no concrete evidence." The night of the fight, however, the source says that all changed. "Tarek saw Christina's phone and [believed] there was some inappropriate texting going on between Christina and Gary," the source dished.

In the Jan. 16, 2017 print edition of In Touch Weekly, an insider noted, "Tarek knew that Christina had already checked out of the relationship. Tension was high with cheating charges flying. There was no saving the marriage by then."

They were unhappy for a while

A source says Tarek and Christina hadn't been getting along for a while leading up to their explosive fight and subsequent separation. The source told In Touch Weekly that their marriage a "facade," adding, "There were secrets, lies, allegations of cheating, spying on each other, and screaming matches. It was the ultimate house of horrors." A neighbor concurred, "They would literally fight in that house and then sit down at their computers and post everything nice for the world to see. They were living a double life. They weren't only working on a reality show—they were putting on a show."

In the Jan. 16, 2017 print issue of In Touch Weekly, a source said, "They really tried to keep up appearances, but in the end, their lies did them in. Behind closed doors, they really were a mess. No one ever got to see the real Tarek and Christina until now."

They fought over their own home renovations

It turns out that the El Moussas debates over home renovations allegedly extended off-screen. In the Jan. 16, 2017 print issue of In Touch Weekly, a source dished that it took two years instead of six months for the couple to renovate their own home, with fingers pointed at Christina for the delay. "They'd decided on a Spanish-style home and had begun the work," the source said. "Then Christina didn't like it and wanted something more modern and blingy, so they ripped out what they'd already done and started again."

They stayed together for the show

A network source claims that HGTV is furious with the estranged couple for wrecking their cash cow. "This is getting really ugly. HGTV is livid with Tarek and Christina," the insider told In Touch Weekly. "Flip Or Flop just won't be the same if they're not together, so execs desperately want them to reunite to save the show. If they can't do that, the network wants to make it seem like they're getting along, at least until their contract is over. They were given an ultimatum: Either finish out your contracts or we'll take you to court [for breach of contract]. The network basically said, 'You guys need to work together, be seen together as a family, walk down the street together.'"

The couple was reportedly willing to go along with it temporarily. In the January 16, 2017 print issue of In Touch Weekly, a source notes, "They were both riding high. They knew the success of Flip Or Flop is what put them on the map and afforded all their good fortune and their lavish lifestyle."

They went through a lot, fast

Speaking to People magazine, Christina admitted the couple's relationship fell apart in part because they "went through a lot in a short amount of time." On the list: Tarek's battle with cancer; intense in-vitro fertilization treatments; and a miscarriage. Christina also said she struggled with going back to work four weeks after giving birth to son Brayden. "It was too soon for me," she told the magazine. "I was overwhelmed. The tension between me and Tarek was high." She added, "We weren't able to properly communicate anymore. It got to the point where we weren't even driving to set together."

They don't get along off-camera

A source told Radar Online that Tarek and Christina are at each other's throats when the HGTV cameras aren't around. "Tensions are ridiculous on the set with Tarek and Christina. Tarek yells at her in front of production and he is constantly putting her down," the source said. "He says he blames her for leaking information about their split and he thinks that she sabotaged their marriage, and he even seems to think that now she is trying to sabotage his chances of getting a spin-off." An insider even told In Touch Weekly that Tarek called his ex-wife a "wh**e" in front of producers, adding, "[Tarek] found humor in insulting his wife in repeated verbal attacks. Some of his bad behavior was even caught on camera [in footage that never aired]." The mag also said the estranged couple now have separate publicists instead of sharing one for the two of them.

Tarek didn't exactly deny or confirm the claims, but wrote on Instagram, "No matter the lies, innuendo, salacious gossip and 'fake news' that is thrown at me from irresponsible media outlets via anonymous sources, I will keep my focus on what matters most, which is co-parenting our children and working hard on our business."

They're in it for the money

TMZ reported that Tarek and Christina want to keep Flip or Flop going as long as they can, but that's reportedly in the network's hands. However, the odds may be in the estranged couple's favor, because they're crushing the competition in ratings.

The pair will fllfill the remainder of its contract with the upcoming season, but a renewal is possible—though it may not necessarily be easy. "The crew was asked to be efficient with takes so that there was no downtime for Tarek and Christina on set," a source told Life & Style. "When there's downtime, bad things happen." What sorts of bad things? According to the source, Tarek often "jokes" that he'll rape his estranged wife.

Another HGTV insider admitted that Tarek's behavior was "a huge factor in their marriage falling apart. Christina hit a breaking point and couldn't stand to be around him anymore. She fell out of love…Tarek treated Christina like garbage."

If a renewal doesn't happen, spin-offs might, and Christina may profit the most from that option. "Christina will now come across as a victim and Tarek comes across as the demeaning jerk that people don't like," branding expert David Johnson told Life & Style. "Public sympathy will be toward her. People will want to see Christina succeed." An HGTV insider noted, "Christina has been trying to pitch her own show for months. She truly wants to have her own career and wants to be separated from Tarek in every way."

Christina and Tarek are keeping up appearances

On Feb. 10, 2017, Tarek and Christina made their first public appearance together since their split was announced. People reported that the estranged couple spoke at the 2017 Investor Summit in Las Vegas. Both Tarek and Christina posted Instagram photos from the event, where they seemed happy and normal together.

"Me and #christina on the #big #stage having #fun and teaching folks how to #flip #houses!! #goodtimes #lovespeakingtogether," Tarek captioned his snap. Christina wrote on her own photo, "Fun event at #successpath #investor #summit…great meeting our students."

She's trying to stay positive

Christina and Tarek have stayed pretty far away from each other, physically, during filming, but Christina continues to act like their friendship is hunky dory and uncomplicated. In this Instagram snap from Feb. 15, 2017, in which three men separate Christina from Tarek, she wrote, "I've never met a group of more positive, fun-loving, funny… all around amazing guys… filming 7 seasons of #FlipOrFlop has been a breeze because of them. I [love] each and every one of you. @hgtv." The sweetness and professionalism gives credence to rumors that she wants her own show on the network, with or without her estranged husband along for the ride.

They don't get along as well as they want you to think

Tarek and Christina are still working together, but only on HGTV, and it's not going as smoothly as Christina wants the world to believe. An insider told Hollywood Life, "Tarek and Christina are still filming and flipping homes together despite their divorce, however they are simply not comfortable together. The tension on set is high and the entire crew is walking on eggshells every time Tarek and Christina are on location together."

In addition, their public appearance together in Las Vegas in February 2017 wasn't as amicable as they made it seem. "Tarek and Christina were definitely putting on a show for the public," a witness told Hollywood Life. "When the cameras weren't pointed at them the smiles dropped and there was definite tension between them. They did not look happy to be together, at all. It's clear they're just going through the motions in an attempt to save their show."

Tensions have been brewing for a long time

In a sit-down with Michael Strahan on Good Morning America on Feb. 21, 2017, Christina admitted, "Honestly, despite everything, I'm doing really, really, really good…Tarek and I met 10 years ago at work and we went through a market crash, we went through [Tarek's] cancer, infertility. Now we're going through a very public divorce but, despite everything, our primary focus is and always will be our kids. We continue to work together, and there's a lot of false stories and a lot of hype, but in the end we're just normal, nice people who just want to be the best parents and coworkers that we can be."

She also opened up to People about the end of the marriage and admits that going back to work just four weeks after giving birth played a role in the divorce. "It was too soon for me," she confessed. "I was overwhelmed. The tension between me and Tarek was high…We weren't able to properly communicate anymore. It got to the point where we weren't even driving to set together." She added, "I think the separation process begins long before people actually separate. So by the time we officially did, I felt like a weight was lifted off me…Tarek and I don't discuss each other's personal lives. 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. It's invigorating to know I am starting over. It's fun to be able to create my own destiny right now."

Tarek concurred in an interview on Today, saying, "As time went on, we got distant from each other. There's a lot going on in our lives. We tried the counseling and it just really wasn't working."

Tarek had more health problems than the public realized

Tarek revealed for the first time via Today on Feb. 21, 2017, that he suffered not only from thyroid cancer, but testicular cancer as well. "I had thyroid cancer in 2013. One month later they found out I had testicular cancer. It was very difficult on me. My hormones were way off," he said. "It affected me. It's been three years of hell. I was devastated when I found out. So was Christina." He added to Us Weekly, "It took a toll on me…It kicked my butt."

They're 'trying to fight through it'

Given that they're going through a very public divorce that bleeds into their personal and professional lives, it shouldn't be all that surprising to find out that Christina and Tarek's decision to remain committed to Flip or Flop hasn't been an easy transition. "I'm not gonna say it was easy," Tarek said in an interview with the Today show (via New York Daily News). "We love filming, that's our job. Just trying to fight through it and do the best we can."

Tarek seems hopeful for a reunion

When Entertainment Tonight asked Tarek about Christina's split from Anderson, he admitted, "I found out from the internet, you know? I do not ask personal question. I do not want to get involved. The best thing for me is to focus on myself, and not worry what she is doing." He also admitted it wasn't necessarily easy to cope with the knowledge that she was seeing their mutual acquaintance, telling ET, "You know, it just took a lot of strength, and it is one of those things where you have to stay positive, stay strong, focus on the kids and just not think about it."

As for hope of a reconciliation, he confessed, "Maybe, like, 10 years from now…Honestly, it took a lot of work to get to a good place for both of us, that I think we are at the point where we aren't looking back, we are looking towards our future. I don't know where the future is going to take me, but you never know."

"You know, we just had chemistry," he said. "If I look back, we were absolute best friends, we were soul mates. We were arm in arm and for many, many years, we were the couple that other couples would be jealous of. All the married friends would say, 'Man, you guys are the best, you get along so well,' and over time, it just started to fade."

They just want to be civil

TMZ reports that both Tarek and Christina El Moussa are over one another enough to nix any talk of ever getting back together, but that they're getting along better thanks to a famous life coach. Tarek reportedly had been working with life coach Tim Storey, who's also worked with Robert Downey, Jr., Kanye West, and Charlie Sheen. Storey had a sit-down dinner with the couple to discuss the split and how to go about co-parenting and working together in a healthy and productive way. Unfortunately for us, the meeting was not recorded for the show.

Tarek had a temper

A source told E! News that Tarek's temper took a toll on the marriage. "He has a really bad temper. Really bad. He can go crazy. He treated her poorly… She put up with a lot. I think she really lost herself in that relationship."

A second source added, "Tarek has major anger issues and a really bad temper …They were volatile together, but Tarek treated her very badly."

Tarek's rep dismissed the talk as "crap."

Tarek may have been struggling with addiction

A source told In Touch Weekly that Tarek actually checked into rehab after his blowout fight with Christina in May 2016, but before the couple filed for divorce. "He drank and was verbally abusive to Christina, so he needed to take care of his issues," the source said. "Christina said he needed to get his temper under control."

Sources said that when he came back from rehab, he often said on setm "I don't drink anymore … I'm happy Tarek now … I'm a new man." Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to save the marriage. "The rehab definitely brought him back to life," a source said. "Christina said he did it to try to win her back, to show her that he was changing, but at that point, she was already done with him."

Their split makes for great ratings

The estranged couple's drama has been ratings gold for HGTV, netting up to 17 million viewers an episode — and the network has apparently given in to their demands, because the show will return for a 20-episode season 7, Variety reported April 24, 2017, making it the longest season ever of the series.

"[Flip Or Flop season 7] captured the ups and downs of Tarek and Christina's house flipping business as well as their family life. While the couple has separated, each one has turned the page to a new life that includes a continued commitment to running their house flipping business together and delivering fresh episodes of Flip Or Flop," HGTV's website announced.

Christina said in a statement, "Tarek and I have been working together for a long time and we look forward to continuing to work together on Flip Or Flop." Tarek concurred, "From the beginning, HGTV has shown Christina and me tremendous support and we are excited to go out there and flip many more houses for Flip Or Flop."