Tarek and Christina El Moussa were once husband-and-wife HGTV stars. Yes, they had their own very popular show, Flip or Flop. Unfortunately, though, the marriage didn’t last – even though the show did. But why did they divorce when they appeared to have it all? Well, gradually the reasons have come out.
First off, Christina and Tarek actually split up all the way back in 2016 – they just kept it a secret from their fans for a while. And they continued to film the show as normal before an announcement came. The pair told People magazine at the end of the year, “We plan to continue our professional life together.”
At the time the pair also said they didn’t necessarily plan to divorce. You see, they had two children together after all, and the youngest was still a baby at that time. But divorce they did, and it didn’t take long for it to happen either. Yes, in January 2017 – after counseling had failed – Tarek filed to officially end the marriage.
Furthermore, both parties eventually moved on with new partners. That’s right, in January 2018 the divorce was finalized, and by the end of that year Christina had married again. Her new husband was Ant Anstead, a British TV presenter. Meanwhile, Tarek too became involved with someone else – and in January 2020 he moved in with his girlfriend Heather Rae Young.
So everything seemed to have worked out for the best in the end – both Tarek and Christina found happiness again before too long and Flip or Flop survived. But the pair’s relationship had always seemed so strong on the show, so what on earth had happened behind the scenes?
For a long time Tarek and Christina had seemed the perfect couple. They had met back in 2005 when both were employed as real estate agents for the company Prudential. And there was a spark between them, but Tarek was already in a relationship. Once he eventually became single though, Christina made a move.
In 2017 Christina told the magazine Good Housekeeping, “The day Tarek and I officially started dating, which was October 9, 2006, we moved in together.” Talk about ambition – the pair unashamedly put up a dream board for their joint office which featured a house, a wedding ring and a private jet. Christina said, “The weird part is, by the time I turned 31, we had all of it.”
Then the pair met an agent who turned them onto the idea of doing a show. Christina, seven months pregnant at the time, filmed her husband at an open house and later the pair were asked to audition. She barely believed anything would happen, but it did. Suddenly the couple were HGTV stars with Flip or Flop.
And it was Flip or Flop that might have saved Tarek’s life. Unbeknownst to him, he had a serious medical problem. A nurse watching the show happened to notice a lump on his neck, so she called up the producers and let them know. It turned out that Tarek had cancer.
As a result, Tarek had to undergo extremely difficult treatments to save his life. Not only did he have to have surgery, he needed thyroid radioactive iodine therapy too. In fact, in November 2015 once he’d gone into remission, he spoke to People magazine about it. He said, “The last three years have been a pretty big challenge.”
The HGTV star told the magazine, “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.” He added, “There is always that chance of recurrence but every year that goes by the odds of recurrence goes down so it’s good.”
Touchingly, Tarek got to meet the nurse who had noticed the symptoms and potentially saved his life. Her name was Ryan, and he emotionally thanked her during a November 2015 episode of The Doctors. He said on the show, “If it wasn’t for TV or her noticing this huge lump on my neck, I would still be moving forward with my life with cancer in my body.”
But while Tarek had been fighting cancer, his wife had had additional worries. You see, she’d been trying to become pregnant with a second child. And sadly, she suffered a miscarriage in 2014. She and Tarek began in vitro fertilization, and it was a very difficult time. To make matters worse, Tarek injured his back playing golf.
Yet the pair held everything together, or seemed to at least. During a July 2015 interview with David Bromstad the pair didn’t give any indication they were having difficulties as they answered questions about their marriage. However, when asked what her least favorite thing about Tarek was, Christina responded “temper.”
Then Christina and Tarek finally welcomed their much-longed-for second child in August 2015, a boy named Brayden. But it wasn’t easy for Christina. You see, there were complications involved in the pregnancy – the baby was so big that she had to have an emergency c-section. And that took a lot of recovery time.
In January 2016 Christina told nutritionist Cara Clark in an interview, “C-sections suck. I felt like I got beat up by a world champion boxer. My entire body hurt, literally my entire body… So I asked for help, which I don’t normally do. I took it really, really easy and followed the doctors’ orders. After the two week mark, I finally felt more normal.”
But the TV mom returned to house flipping after only a short amount of time, and that led to more problems. She said in the interview, “I suffer from a lot of mommy guilt. I went back to work at five weeks and that was pretty hard. My daughter got pretty jealous of the time I was spending with Brayden, so I try to do my girlie stuff with my daughter.”
In any case, the couple began to feel the strain. In a February 2017 interview with People magazine Christina said she regretted going back to work so soon. She had been “overwhelmed” and it had caused “tension” between her and her husband. She added, “We weren’t able to properly communicate anymore. It got to the point where we weren’t even driving to set together.”
And then came a sudden incident which absolutely horrified fans. Yes, in May 2016, 11 police officers arrived at Christina and Tarek’s Orange County home. And they were apparently responding to a call about a “possibly suicidal male with a gun.” The male in question was Tarek, and he did indeed have a firearm.
Oddly, according to People, Tarek informed police that although he had left the house with a gun, he had only had it to defend himself from potential animal attacks while hiking. To add to that, Christina told the cops that her husband was not suicidal. But Tarek did have to hand over his guns to the authorities temporarily.
Interestingly, Christina’s hair and makeup artist Shannon Rhodes had also been involved. According to People, she had seen Tarek take a gun from his safe and leave with it. He didn’t make any threatening statements or appear suicidal, but his behavior was strange enough to make Rhodes call Christina.
What’s more, this incident was mentioned when Tarek and Christina announced their separation in 2016. They said, “Like many couples, we have had challenges in our marriage. 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.”
But Christina would later describe it as the breaking point for their marriage. Speaking to People magazine in February 2017, she said, “It just made me realize that us being separated was healthier for both of us.” And in April 2018 Tarek told his side of the story on The Dr. Oz Show.
Indeed, Tarek said the whole thing had been “a huge misunderstanding on [Christina’s] part.” He explained, “I sent my neighbor a text. I said, ‘Can I borrow your bikes, because I want to go scout trails.’ He wasn’t home. I have a CCW, California Concealed Carry, which means I can legally carry a firearm.”
But, Tarek went on, “The next thing I know there’s a sheriff’s helicopter circling and I’m like, ‘Geez, what are these guys doing?’ and I’m like, ‘They must be looking for somebody bad.’ Then I realize, ‘Well, wait a minute he was looking for me,’ and next thing I know I see 11 sheriffs around me and off-road vehicles and guns on me.”
Tarek added, “I had just bought a mountain bike so I went on a hike. Sure, I was having a rough day, and I was trying to blow off steam, and that’s what I did. So it was a surreal experience. It was like my life was in slow motion, my life paused for a moment, and it was like I was living a movie.”
However, the TV presenter had been going through some other things too. In March 2018 he told Dr. Drew Pinsky on his podcast that after the cancer diagnosis came some other medical problems. He said, “I thought it was from the thyroid medication but it wasn’t. Here’s the worst thing I ever did, which is a 100 times worse than cancer.”
What had happened was Tarek had gone to a hormone clinic on Christina’s advice. He said, “Next thing I know I’m shoving a needle on my a** and taking steroids, it was testosterone. It was awful. I was on way too much testosterone, on top of that taking human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) injections every day because I was told to.”
Right after recovering from cancer Tarek injured his back, and that made things even worse for him. He explained to Dr. Drew, “I lost 60 lbs. I was on Vicodin every day, my hormones are off, I’m on pain meds and narcotics and I’m filming and working. It’s wild. It was a horrifying experience.”
The TV presenter went on, “I would find myself just sitting alone and just being depressed. It’s all because of all the s*** that was being pumped into my body just turned me into someone that wasn’t me. In 20/20 hindsight I think, ‘How in the hell did I film a show, start a company, how did I do all these things?’ I was so spun out from all the s*** they gave me.”
Luckily though Tarek was starting to heal both physically and mentally. He declared on the podcast, “After separating and losing my family, I said I’m gonna do every single thing I can to be the best person I can be. I can say standing here today that I’m the best version of myself I ever thought I could be.”
He continued, “I’ve been through so many things: the sickness, the divorce, the cancer, success, mental health, physical health. People have helped me and I remember how important it was for positive support. Just talking about it makes me feel so much better. Honestly, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been to date because I don’t feel the way I felt.”
Christina too began changing her life once the separation took place. In August 2017 she told Good Housekeeping magazine how difficult it had been at first, though. As soon as the news broke regarding her and Tarek, she discovered the paparazzi were following her as she went about her day.
And the mom also made reference to what someone had told People magazine about the split. The unnamed “source who has worked alongside the couple for several years” had claimed that “In a lot of ways [Tarek and Christina] just seemed wildly incompatible. She has champagne tastes, and he’s a beer-from-a-can kind of guy.”
Well, Christina hadn’t been very happy about that, especially since it might have come from a friend. She told Good Housekeeping, “We definitely have the same taste as far as wanting nice things because we work hard, so if you’re going to say it, at least say ‘both of them.’ Don’t just label me (the champagne).”
What’s more, Christina revealed how their daughter Taylor was doing, since she was old enough to understand what was going on. Christina said, “One day, as I was driving her to a [therapy] appointment, she said, ‘I don’t need to go to therapy anymore. I think you and Daddy are happier apart, and I don’t really need to talk about it anymore.’”
Taylor appeared to be absolutely right. In December 2018 Christina married Ant Anstead, taking his last name in the process. In January 2019 Tarek spoke about this on his Instagram Stories, saying, “I’m actually happy for her. I think it’s a great thing. I think they get along well. And most importantly, it’s good for my children.”
And Tarek added that any tabloid story about him being depressed over it wasn’t true. He said his life was “amazing,” and regarding Christina, “I’m glad that she found someone. It’s a good thing. It’s a positive thing. I’m not the type that wants to fight with her for the rest of my life and make my kids miserable.”
There were more big life changes to come after that, too. In March 2019 Tarek made the happy announcement that he was finally completely free of cancer. And a few months later in September Christina and Ant had their first child together. Tarek gave his congratulations on social media and joked that he would baby-sit “if Christina and Ant pay well.”
So despite everything, it seems like calling it quits on the marriage might have actually worked out better for Tarek and Christina. Come 2020 Tarek got engaged to his girlfriend Heather Rae Young, and Christina was asked about this by People’s Jeremy Parsons. She said, “I feel like time just makes things easier in general, and we’ve been separated for four years now. We’re just in a good spot.”