The truth about Tarek & Christina's odd marriage

The stars of HGTV's Flip or Flop, Tarek and Christina El Moussa, have been a charming fixture for seven years as fixer-uppers who roam the nation's suburbs, deciding whether homes are fit to renovate and flip. But their charming, low-key profile exploded in December as news broke that the couple had been separated for months, following an incident with a gun at the family home that left Tarek being chased by police through the woods. And that's just how it starts! Scroll on for more about the Flip or Flop family's unexpectedly insane year.

Tarek flees his home with a gun, pursued by cops

The first crack in Tarek and Christina's veneer of marital bliss came on May 23, 2016, though news didn't break on the incident until December that same year. But when the news came out, it was astonishing. You can read it straight from the police report that police officers had been called to the residence of Tarek and Christina on a report of a possibly suicidal man. Upon the officers' arrival, Tarek had already left the premises, darting into the woods, armed with a gun and with who knows what on his mind. Deputies called for helicopters to search the thick woods, apprehending him quickly and encouraging him to return home. Christina denied Tarek was suicidal, and so did he, claiming he had only taken the firearm along as protection against mountain lions and rattlesnakes. A reasonable explanation? Perhaps. But the episode left audiences scratching their heads, wondering how everything could get so strange so quickly.

The illusion falls apart

After the on-foot pursuit episode was made public, it was open season on the shattered illusion of Tarek and Christina's TV-perfect pairing. Reporters from the entertainment sector looked into the public record, picked apart their story — and discovered the couple had secretly split, soon after the event that brought police to their home! Only in December did they announce the seperation. For six months, they kept spinning plates, trying to maintain the look of normalcy. And it was about more than just embarrassment, naturally — their very jobs were on the line.

Their marriage is their profession

Despite drama, and the clear dissolution of romantic love between the two, the couple has no plans to divorce or separate professionally. Indeed, this is likely one reason they were so reticent to have their marital problems go public — for seven years, Flip or Flop has been a runaway success, and part of its formula has been the happy coupledom of Tarek and Christina. Is it essential to the success of the show? Who knows, but you can bet nobody involved wanted to find out. So it should come as no surprise that at this time, the couple has no plans to divorce or separate professionally, with a book due in March of 2017, called — and this is somewhat funny now, considering their topsy turvy year — Flip Your Life.

There were five guns in the house — including an AR-15

Following the bizarre and frightening episode with Tarek and the police, Tarek agreed to hand over all of his weapons for the safety of himself and his family. In the process, it was discovered that Tarek is quite the budding gun collector, with five weapons, including an AR-15, handed over to the authorities in total. When it comes to fans of firearms, this is not a massive haul, but here's hoping they stay safely stowed away while the family works through the more painful moments of their separation.

Tarek may have dated the nanny after separation

Rumor has it Tarek may have dated the couple's young nanny — and there are pictures. You can be proud of him for this one, though. Tarek and the nanny, Alyssa Logan, reportedly began dating four months after his and Christina's separation, and after she was no longer his employee. So it isn't wrong, or rude, so much as potentially awkward. Still, it didn't last long, the relationship was over in a month.

Christina got a new man, too

At some point, Christina began cultivating a relationship with a mutual acquaintance of the family, Gary Anderson, whom he met during a backyard renovation project that Tarek and Christina worked on with him. Anderson himself has a history of divorce, but it's good to see they're happily together for now. In such a tumultuous family shakeup, anything that helps ensure stability has got to be essential. One weird wrinkle — before Christina and Gary started dating, he was over at their house, and witnessed Tarek's allegedly suicidal blowup. Is that awkward? We can't even tell — jeez, there are so many angles here.

The children are the priority

Throughout all of this, Tarek and Christina are showing an abundance of parental maturity by making sure the kids get out of this as well as they can. Set anything else they do aside, because this is admirable. Parental separations have devastating effects on children in the best of circumstances — imagine it playing out when your parents are straight-up celebrities. And if the couple truly plans to stay together, at least professionally, then maybe they can remain a strong family unit for their kids. At least, that seems to be the plan. Though Christina says there's no chance she'll ever go back to Tarek romantically, the intention is to stay together as a mutually beneficial professional team. Here's hoping, guys. Because…

Will the show survive in 2017?

Word is, after the events of this long and stressful summer, the stars of Flip or Flop may not even have a home to go back to. Reported in December, word is that Tarek and Christina's contracts are soon to be up, and once they are, the show is through. The stress of being on the bubble makes the strain of keeping up appearances all the more difficult, and important, if image rehabilitation is the couple's only hope to return to TV. Will they manage to pull it off? Are they never, ever getting back together? Only time will tell.