Relationship Expert Tells Us The Unexpected Green Flags In Chip And Joanna Gaines' Relationship

HGTV might be all about model homes, but it seems they're also in the business of showcasing model marriages. Case in point: Chip and Joanna Gaines. The "Fixer Upper" stars have been thriving as a house-flipping duo since 2013, and it appears their marriage doesn't need much renovating — at least according to a relationship expert.

Chip and Joanna met in 2001 and tied the knot in 2003, the same year they flipped their first house. Fast forward two decades, and they've got a booming business and a rock-solid marriage. "I would say, as we're getting older, I'm shifting and I'm more like Chip, and Chip is more like me," Joanna told People when they celebrated their 20 years of marriage. "Jo and I are in this beautiful moment — we're evolving into each other," Chip chimed in. "It's the second part of our marriage." At the 2019 INBOUND conference, the two also admitted that they don't have much in common, but that's exactly why their marriage works. "We're this odd yin and yang, this whole opposites attract," Chip said (via People). "We're a lot stronger and powerful when we're pulling together, as opposites to pulling against each other. We're a powerful force when we operate like that."

Surprisingly, the two also confessed to breaking up early on in their romance. But here they are, still going strong. In an exclusive interview with Nicki Swift, Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, said that the breakup was actually a good thing — a green flag, if you will, in their relationship.

Their breakup early on in their relationship only made them stronger

Joanna and Chip Gaines revealed that when they first started dating, they took a brief break to figure out if they were really meant to be together. Speaking with People, Chip shared that he was the first to drop the L-word, but Joanna responded with a mere "thank you." Yikes! Feeling hurt, they decided to cool off for a week but couldn't even make it through seven days. "We took a week off to just be like, 'Is this for us? Is this not?'" Joanna dished. "Before the week was even out, we were meeting at a taco shop."

Susan Trombetti told Nicki Swift that the split was actually a smart move for the couple. It allowed them to step back, think things through, and figure out if they truly wanted to be with each other. "Everything running up to marriage is a trial run for the marriage," she explained. "It's a test of 'can we work this out?' and come through on the other side, and they did. It's healthy to regroup. As a matchmaker and relationship coach, what Joanna did was an important step for her. She evaluated their relationship and so did he."

Trombetti even advised all couples to take a step back before diving headfirst into a relationship they're not sure about. "You need to make sure that person meets your needs and expectations," she added. "This is very healthy and more people should do it."

Chip changing for Joanna is apparently a good sign

Chip Gaines wasn't shy about admitting he had to make some major life changes when he started dating Joanna. Back then, he was the kind of guy who avoided big commitments and kept his distance from partners eager to settle down. "I dated girls whose goal in life was to get married and have kids. They had it all planned out, but I was too selfish," he shared with People. "It was about me and what I wanted to do, and I didn't have anything tying me down." Chip was also quite the extrovert, whereas Joanna was more shy and reserved, but he learned not to outshine her. "From day one, when we were dating, I realized he is not going to be put in a box," Joanna shared. 

While some might frown upon changing oneself for a relationship, it's different for Chip and Joanna, according to Susan Trombetti."It could be a red flag if he was changing himself to be with her, but I don't see it that way. What I see is a man who knows himself and herself, and he wants to make sure he doesn't outshine her, and he gives her room to be herself and let her shine as well," she told Nicki Swift. "It's a very self-aware move. When someone else is shy, it's easy to lose them in the mix. He is making sure to meet her needs and gives her the space to be her without his personality crowding her out."

It's also admirable that they know how to work their differences

Since Chip and Joanna Gaines are colleagues, it's inevitable that they butt heads over work. We've all seen plenty of reality TV couples crash and burn, so the fact that these two are still going strong after two decades is pretty impressive. Per Susan Trombetti, their ability to work out their differences shows they're built to last.

"Some couples work well together and some don't. It just depends. Disagreeing in a healthy way is fine. When it comes to reality TV, a lot of couples' divorce under the pressure and amidst the spotlight. I would believe these two would have to work well together or they wouldn't last," she said, adding that it's obvious that the couple seemed to have mastered the art of compromise. "Of course, they are modeling good relationship behavior, but not every couple could or would even want to work together as well. It's not for everyone and that wouldn't mean you have a bad relationship. Chip and Joanna have what works for them, and everyone needs to find that happy spot."

The couple said they never considered divorce

As a couple in the spotlight for years, Chip and Joanna Gaines are no strangers to those pesky divorce rumors. Every now and then, tabloids claim they're on the brink of splitting up, but the reality TV duo has always been crystal clear that breaking up is not in the cards for them now — ir ever. "Won't ever happen.. you can take that to the bank! #loveOfMyLife," Chip once told a fan on X, formerly Twitter.

Just as they don't quit on challenging projects, they bring the same relentless energy to their relationship. Divorce? What's that? For them, that not even on the table. "One thing I would say is our superpower is that Jo and I are not quitters," Chip shared in an "Access Hollywood" interview. "Throwing in the towel is not something that ever comes to mind... I would say that happened pretty early in our relationship where we just thought that divorce, or leaving one another, is not really an option for us." Sure, they admit there have been times when things got so tough that quitting seemed like the easy way out, but they never took that bait. "Jo and I keep showing up, day after day, and sometimes it's right, and sometimes it's not," Chip said of challenging times. "But, we keep putting one foot in front of the other."

What is the secret to Chip and Joanna Gaines' longlasting marriage?

At the end of the day, Chip and Joanna Gaines' marriage works because they have a strong sense of self. Sure, they lean on each other, but they also make sure they can stand on their own two feet. Joanna claims that's their secret sauce — they already knew who they were and what they wanted before they exchanged "I do"s.

"The biggest thing is we met at a time when both of us felt pretty grounded in who we were as people by ourselves. I feel like Chip, he was a visionary. He had these businesses," she explained to People. "And I was at a place of fully knowing who I was. It wasn't the 'you complete me' thing." Chip added, "We made each other stronger."

Oh, and they never fail to lift each other up either. To this day, Joanna and Chip are each other's biggest fans. "Support each other," Joanna shared in the book "What Makes a Marriage Last" by Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas (via Showbiz Cheatsheet). "Because when you feel supported by your spouse, anything seems possible. Look at each other as equals who both have something very valuable to bring to the table."