Why We're Worried About Chip And Joanna Gaines

Chip and Joanna Gaines announced in late September 2017 that they were ending Fixer Upper, the wildly successful home renovation TV series that began in 2013.

"It is with both sadness and expectation that we share the news that season 5 of Fixer Upper will be our last," the couple wrote on its blog. "While we are confident that this is the right choice for us, it has for sure not been an easy one to come to terms with. Our family has grown up alongside yours, and we have felt you rooting us on from the other side of the screen. How bittersweet to say goodbye to the very thing that introduced us all in the first place."

While Chip and Joanna claim to want to settle down and spend time with their kids, we're a bit concerned for the future of this adorable, down-home couple. Aside from their potential struggles as a pairing, they are also dealing with a slew of drama outside their relationship that could easily cause tension within it. Here's why we're worried about Chip and Joanna's marriage—and their empire. (Seriously, we're going to miss all that shiplap.)

Chip is being sued for fraud...

In April 2017, KWTX obtained a lawsuit accusing Chip of fraud. Filed by his old business partners, John L. Lewis and Richard L. Clark (no relation to the explorers), the suit claims Chip encouraged his partners to sell their shares in Magnolia Realty right before revealing that he and Joanna were getting a TV show.

"At a time when only the Defendants knew that Fixer Upper had been fast-tracked for a one-hour premiere on HGTV and was on the verge of radically changing their lives and business enterprises, Chip Gaines conspired to eliminate his business partners—notwithstanding their longstanding friendship—in order to ensure that he alone would profit from Magnolia Realty's association with Fixer Upper," the suit reads. The lawsuit, which also alleges that Chip threatened Clark and Lewis over text messages, seeks more than $1 million in damages, as well an non-monetary relief.

...but he denies the allegations

Chip denied that Lewis and Clark contacted him about their Magnolia Realty shares prior to suing him. "Fyi: I've had the same cell [number for] 15 yrs.. same email for 20 [years]. No one called or emailed? [Four] years later 'friends' reach out via lawsuit.. Humm," he tweeted.

Chip's attorney told Fox News, "We are confident that these claims will be found to be meritless, and it is disappointing to see people try to take advantage of the hard work and success of Chip and Joanna Gaines."

However, Lewis and Clark's lawyer told Radar Online, "They did contact him. [Chip] turned it over to his lawyer and the discussions that ensued were between lawyers... There is a four year statute of limitations in Texas that governs these complaints... the case had to be filed or it was lost." The attorney added, "We've tried to resolve it quickly... We've been doing it for a while. [But] you have to have both sides together to make a settlement. They do not appear to want to come to the table to settle, so we will do the lawsuit thing, which is to file it, set it to trial, take it to the court, and let the court decide."

They were accused of being homophobic...

In November 2016, BuzzFeed reported that Chip and Joanna are members of the Antioch Community Church, which has a firm stance against same-sex marriage and reportedly engages in controversial LGBT conversion therapy. The report noted that unlike House Hunters or The Property Brothers, Fixer Upper never featured same-sex couples on the show. The article stirred up a slew of backlash against the couple and the series.

HGTV denied the homophobia allegations in a statement, telling BuzzFeed, "We don't discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows. HGTV is proud to have a crystal clear, consistent record of including people from all walks of life in its series." 

Before commenting on his beliefs, Chip actually defended the author of the BuzzFeed piece, as well as a Cosmopolitan editor who picked up the story, from conservatives who trolled the journalists after the story went viral. Chip tweeted, "Regardless of our decision to make a statement about all this craziness, or not, I ask that people please! respect @KateAurthur & @ginamei."

...but denied it

Chip responded to BuzzFeed's report in a blog post, writing, "In my lifetime, I can't recall humanity being more divided. Plenty of folks are sad and scared and angry and there are sound bites being fed to us that seem fueled by judgement, fear and even hatred. Jo and I refuse to be baited into using our influence in a way that will further harm an already hurting world, this is our home. A house divided cannot stand... If there is any hope for all of us to move forward, to heal and to grow—we have got to learn to engage people who are different from us with dignity and with love." 

He continued, "Joanna and I have personal convictions. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth. It's not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith...we're already pulling for you... Jo and I don't want to hide, we want to live brave & bold lives and we wish that same thing for you as well. But words can cut deep and having someone misunderstand your intentions can hurt as much as just about anything. If I misjudge people and am wrong, I want to be wrong having assumed the best about them. The bottom line is, I would rather be loving than be right."

At the time of this writing, Joanna has not spoken publicly about her views on homosexuality.

They may be bad with money

Chip and Joanna may be rich now, but their finances could prove problematic if they fail to learn from the mistakes of their youth. 

Before the fame and fortune, they were broke and "scrambled" to pay their bills, they revealed in an AOL Build Series talk (via Radar Online). "It seemed like no matter how hard we worked, no matter how many extra jobs we picked up, we were barely scraping by and living with huge amounts of debt," Joanna said. "Chip never stopped pulling crazy stunts, and each time I'd get just as angry..." The couple also confessed to splurging on elaborate birthday parties for themselves and their kids that they couldn't afford.

What's more, the couple's television success may not have bolstered its financial situation as much as one may expect. Radar Online reported that in 2012, Chip and Joanna were slapped with a lawsuit for delinquent property taxes dating back to 2010, owing $12,238.06 and $12,334.55 to the City of Waco, Texas and to the Waco Independent School District. The County of McLennan, Texas, also sent the couple a $3,546.57 bill for back taxes. The case was reportedly settled in 2014 when they repaid their debts.

They were negligent pet owners

In The Magnolia Story (via Radar Online), Chip recalled his and Joanna's negligence towards their dogs during her first pregnancy. The pets would reportedly walk around their Waco neighborhood with neither leashes nor supervision.

"Every single time [a neighbor] saw them off the leash—which was just about all the time—she called animal control," Chip wrote. "The people from the pound would show up, haul the dogs downtown in their van, and write us a ticket either in Jo's name or my name. These weren't like parking tickets either. They came with heavy fines, which I absolutely refused to pay out of some misguided form of principle," he admitted. "Well, guess what? When you don't pay your fines, eventually the police come looking for you. We owed something like $2,500 in tickets, and we simply didn't have that kind of money lying around even if we wanted to pay the fines."

At one point, the couple revealed, police came to their door looking for Joanna, since the tickets (and dog) were in her name. Chip denied she was home, and they called the courthouse, where they were told that they could have a meeting to settle their debt...except there was no meeting. It was a sting, and Chip was arrested on the spot, leaving Joanna to empty her shop's cash register to bail him out of jail.

Their relationship got off to a rocky start

In their book, The Magnolia Story, Chip reveals that he was an hour and a half late to pick her up for their first date. Joanna then had to bail on their second date because she was hospitalized with an injured back, and Chip didn't even check in on her. Chip says several months passed before they reconnected after that first date. 

After dating for four months, Chip told Joanna he loved her, to which she replied, "Thank you." In the book, Chip recalls, "I really thought, 'What in the world is wrong with this girl? I just told her I loved her, and that's all she can say? Am I dating an emotionless cyborg or something?'" 

Joanna almost dumped Chip before they got married

In Chip's book Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff (via InTouch Weekly), he admits that his immaturity almost ended his relationship with then-girlfriend Joanna when they were in their mid-20s.

Chip described an incident in which he left Joanna, then working as a bookkeeper, to fend for his three businesses while he took a trip to Mexico with some of his construction worker buddies. He admitted his "unconventional methods" left Joanna "sorely unprepared" for the work ahead of her, and people began demanding money that she couldn't readily provide for them. She gave Chip an ultimatum that ultimately changed his life.

"'You have three days to get back to Texas, or this relationship is over.' Her tone made it clear that she was not playin'. My heart broke," he recalled. He got back to Waco as fast as he could. "It became very clear to me that I had to grow up," he wrote. "It became my mission to prove to Jo, my parents, her parents, and myself...that I was the real deal." He proposed to her within six months of cleaning up his act.

A Fixer Upper couple blamed them for an accident

Ken and Kelly Downs fingered Chip, Joanna and Magnolia Realty after a drunk driver crashed his car into the front of their fixed-up home, claiming the Gainses "deceived" them into purchasing a home in an unsafe neighborhood.

"It's like the Wild West here. There's been a lot of commotion coming from the bars and the store across the street," Kelly vented to the Waco Tribune-Herald. "It's been a problem from the beginning... We feel deceived by the city of Waco and Magnolia Realty... We have been intimidated and harassed [since moving in]. There's a big problem here. It's not safe."

They were sued two other times over separate incidents

The Waco Tribune-Herald reported that a neighboring business sued Chip, Joanna and Magnolia over a gate in 2016. At the time, the couple was reportedly leasing a vacant lot next to its businesses for parking, but when the lease expired, another company purchased the lot and charged guests $10 for parking. Chip then put up the gate, blocking access to their store, because he claimed he didn't want his customers to think they'd have to pay to shop at Magnolia. Daron Farmer, owner of the neighboring business that purchased the lot, sought $200,000 to $1 million for damages, as well as a temporary restraining order and removal of the gate.

The Gainses' attorney explained, "The gate is on the piece of property that is owned by Magnolia and AT&T, and it is not on Mr. Farmer's property... We are certainly open to talking with him about this situation in the future." A judge did not sign an order for the gate's removal, and the Gainses eventually settled the suit for an undisclosed sum.

In February 2017, a woman named Nancy Brown sued Joanna and Chip after she was allegedly injured at their Magnolia Silos shop. According to documents obtained by Radar Online, Brown argued that she "suffered serious permanent bodily injuries as a direct result of the dangerous condition created by the height and steel rods used for the canopies which are affixed to picnic tables located in an outdoor dining area... When attempting to sit down at said tables Plaintiff's had hit the low hanging and concealed steel rods thereby causing Plaintiff to suffer serious bodily injuries." The suit claims Joanna and Chip "negligently allowed the area to become dangerous" and seeks $100,000 to $200,000 in damages for "reasonable and necessary medical expenses." The Gainses denied any wrongdoing, arguing that Brown simply should have paid attention to her surroundings, Radar Online reported.

They've been fending off split rumors

In the weeks leading up to the announcement of the end of Fixer Upper, the Gainses battled rumors about an impending divorce.

"It's funny, when I think about these circumstances, I think they're hilarious," Chip said on Today in early September 2017. "I'm like, 'I can't believe that these things are happening to us.' Because part of me feels, who would care about that?"

Joanna added, "I don't do great with seeing that kind of stuff, reading into it—I just don't know what's going on. So then I'll hear someone come up to me and say, 'I hear you and Chip are getting a divorce!' And I'll be like, 'Where did you hear that? I don't know any of this!'"

Chip admitted they've had marital strife

Chip previously hinted at past marital discord in an interview with their controversial Antioch Community Church (via Radar Online). "I remember that Jo and I would get into little pickles and we would find ourselves pulling against each other on that tug of war of life," he recalled. "And I remember again, very vividly, like it was yesterday, I remember Jo and I came together and we're like, 'We're not going to do that. We believe that was a lie from the enemy and when he would speak that she had done this, or I had done that, we would kind of dig into it."

She gets frustrated by his unpredictability

Joanna revealed in a public service announcement for Christian organization I Am Second that she gets uncomfortable with Chip constantly pushing the envelopes in their lives.

"If you give Chip a boundary, he's gonna break that boundary. If you give him a rule, he's not going to follow it. If you tell him he can't go past this line, he dips his toe over it," she said. "I like safety. I like knowing what's coming. I don't want to be surprised. I don't know if we would've dated in college if we would've known each other... I like comfortable, I like predictable. And you pushed me," she told him. "You're comfortable in that you're consistent in just who you are as Chip. But you're definitely not predictable."

Fame may have changed them

In Chip's book Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff, he admits that fame has drastically changed his family's lives.

"As Jo and I move through our crazy new life as semi-celebrities, well-meaning people are always telling us, 'Please don't change!' I wince each time someone says it to us. Guys, listen, we have changed. We are changing, and we're about to change some more," he wrote (via People). "It is quite literally impossible to build a company or go on national TV or have children and remain the same. What's never going to change? Our values, our priorities, our commitment to each other and our family. But I hope that literally every other part of our lives changes. I hope that every new season and situation of life changes me."

Her fame may have eclipsed his

While Chip and Joanna have built businesses together (they share their Magnolia Market and a Target home line called Hearth & Hand with Magnolia), Joanna's success, at least in the public eye, has given her more branding opportunities. She has her own paint line and a furniture line separate from her hubby. Considering what a ham Chip can be on camera, it's possible that he may be a bit envious of her massive following outside of the show.

They don't agree on having more kids

Another cause for a potential split, or at least tension in their marriage, is Joanna and Chip's differing opinions on expanding their family. They currently share sons Drake and Duke and daughters Ella and Emmie Kay.

During an October 2016 AOL Build Series talk, Joanna announced, "I'm trying to talk him into another child... He's not interested."

In June 2017, Joanna also told People, "I would love another baby—or twins! The kids are always asking me, 'Mom, can you have another baby?' But Chip thinks we're done." She added, "[Daughter] Emmie has never really wanted [a younger sibling], and now she's like, 'Okay. I want a brother or sister.' So I'm thinking that might be a sign." 

Chip quipped, "I think that's a sign that Emmie's lost her mind."

Their body language isn't promising

In their official video announcing the end of Fixer Upper, Chip is his usual warm, chipper self. He maintains a smile throughout the clip, while Joanna seems uncomfortable—like she's either on the verge of tears or struggling to stifle an eye roll at any given moment. Though they're holding hands and sitting together, take a look at how they're sitting: Joanna's legs are facing away from Chip, a sign that body language experts claim means that she's withdrawing and uninterested (or unattracted) to her husband.