This article was originally published on our sister site Fresh Edits
HGTV has produced some television stars in its time, and a lot of famous faces started out on one of their shows. Tarek and Christina El Moussa, however, were a cut above the rest, rising to fame through the extraordinary success of their show ‘Flip or Flop.’ It follows Tarek and Christina as they travel around the US buying houses, renovating them, decorating and furnishing them, and then selling them – hopefully, for a substantial profit.
However, it wasn’t just the beautiful properties that drew in millions of viewers religiously. It was also the charisma of each presenter, as well as their seemingly perfect relationship. Tarek and Christina seemed to have it all, and fans couldn’t seem to get enough. Therefore, it was a huge shock when the couple announced that they were going their separate ways and even more surprising when things got nasty. There’s been a lot of speculation over the last few years about what really happened, but we’ve uncovered the whole story.
Something to Get You Talking
‘Flip or Flop’ is one of HGTV’s most successful shows, with several spin-offs created as a result. However, even though interior designing and home renovations make for popular shows in general, ‘Flip or Flop’ got its fans talking about more than that – mainly the co-hosts, Tarek and Christina El Moussa. From day one, they proved to be popular with the show’s audience.
Not only were they both successful business partners, but they were also happily married – and their good looks, charm, and charisma drew fans in. Moreover, they were both talented and worked well as a team, bouncing ideas off one another and creating beautiful homes as a result. It seemed as though it couldn’t get any better than the life and relationship that they had.
A Wealth of Experience
It was no accident that Tarek and Christina made ‘Flip or Flop’ a massive success as they both had plenty of experience in properties and renovations. Tarek got his real estate license at just 21 years of age and immediately started working in the field. And it was through work that he met Christina, who was also in real estate.
According to them, there was an instant connection and attraction between them, and they soon became an official couple. Not long after, in 2008, they decided to enter the housing market together, but the timing was unfortunate, as the market experienced a major crash. Consequently, Tarek and Christina were forced to move out of their $6,000-a-month home into a $700-a-month apartment.
A New Start and a New Family
Although the situation was tough, both Tarek and Christina were determined to make a success of their new career, despite the adverse circumstances. Their hard work, dedication, and motivation paid off, and they found themselves coming out the other side in less than a year. Elated, they decided to get married and tied the knot in May 2009.
They both wanted to start a family very soon after, but it proved to be harder for them to do so than they initially hoped. So, after failing to get pregnant naturally, they decided to try in vitro fertilization, and luckily, it worked! Tarek and Christina welcomed their first child, a healthy girl named Taylor Reese El Moussa, in September 2010, weighing just 5 pounds 13 ounces.
Reaching for the Stars
Although they had successful careers and, now, a beautiful family, Tarek and Christina weren’t completely satisfied. As a result, they decided that they would reach for the stars and came up with an idea for a television show about renovating (‘flipping’) houses. Tarek made an audition tape showcasing the entire process and sent it to HGTV.
The producers and executives were extremely interested. Although Christina wasn’t featured in the audition tape, they wanted her to be involved in the show alongside her husband. The couple was delighted and convinced they were about to become big TV stars. Soon, filming started, and the first episode of ‘Flip or Flop’ aired in April 2013.
Falling for the Couple
Viewers instantly fell for the couple as well as the concept, and ‘Flip or Flop’ was an instant success in the US. Tarek and Christina seemed to have a special spark that the viewers loved. Crucially, they worked incredibly well together as a team. Tarek was in charge of finding properties to renovate, plus the actual work itself.
On the other hand, Christina was tasked with designing rooms and finding furniture. She was also in charge of making sure everything was running according to the predicted timeline. It wasn’t always easy. In fact, it could be incredibly stressful sometimes, but the couple always seemed to make it work somehow, all without putting a strain on their personal relationship.
A Stark Chance Warning
Both Tarek and Christina threw themselves into the television show and their work. It looked as though everything was going great and that they couldn’t be happier. However, all this was, unfortunately, short-lived. It wasn’t long before a viewer named Ryan Reade, who was a registered nurse, noticed something that raised his concern. It was a lump on Tarek’s neck.
Ryan wrote to the ‘Flip or Flop’ production team, warning them about the lump. In turn, they spoke to Tarek about it. According to the couple, the lump had been noticed before, but Tarek didn’t feel any pain, so thought little of it. However, after listening to Ryan and the production team’s advice, Tarek decided to get it checked out by a medical professional.
The Devastating Cancer Diagnosis
When Tarek visited the doctor, he admitted that he’d been having problems with his throat for roughly three years – but again, he hadn’t thought much of it as he seemed well in general. Unfortunately, the doctor ran a series of tests and confirmed what the couple feared: Tarek had cancer. Specifically, it was thyroid cancer, but further tests confirmed that it had already spread to other parts of his body.
Although Christina tried to be positive, strong and determined for her husband, she later confessed in an interview that she had feared that she would lose him. Furthermore, they’d only recently had their daughter, and Christina was scared Taylor would be left without a father. As if things couldn’t be worse, the ‘Flip or Flop’ production team told Tarek the show was being put on hold while he took time to recover. It seemed like everything was beginning to fall apart.
A Difficult Road Ahead
As Tarek’s cancer was so advanced, treatment had to start almost immediately. He underwent a series of different treatments and operations to try and kill the cancer, but the side-effects proved to take their toll. Tarek would feel nauseous most of the time. Plus, he began to suffer from severe migraines almost every single day.
However, he was determined to keep fighting, and nothing was going to make him give up. He strongly felt that giving up work completely would be detrimental to his battle with the disease, so he decided to slow down drastically but not stop altogether. Taking to Today, he admitted that if he stopped, he feared it “gets scary, and you start getting depressed.”
A Hard Pill to Swallow
Even though, by this point, America and much of the rest of the world knew that Tarek had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, neither he nor Christina felt the need to make the full diagnosis public knowledge. It was a hard pill to swallow, and they weren’t ready to share it with the world yet. However, this, unfortunately, began to take its toll on the couple.
Tired, stressed, and anxious, they both started to feel the strain. Tarek later appeared on ‘The Doctors’ and revealed that the stress of his cancer and the treatment he was undergoing, as well as having a young child to take care of, got so bad that the couple grew distant from one another. For a while, it seemed as though all was lost, until they got some fantastic news.
Hopes of Another Fresh Start
Tarek was given the all-clear that the treatment had worked! The couple was elated, and in their happiness, seemed to be getting their relationship back on track. So much so, in fact, that they decided to try for a second child to complete their family. Unfortunately, however, they experienced problems with getting pregnant once again, so they turned to IVF for a second time.
Devastatingly, the first attempt failed, and the second attempt was successful, but the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage early on. The couple persevered, trying for one last time. In what they considered to be a miracle, it worked – but the pregnancy didn’t come without its risks and limitations.
Living Life Under Restrictions
Due to the fact that Christina’s pregnancy was classified as high risk, she was unable to carry on with her life as normal. She had to take it as easy as possible without making any exceptions. The restrictions she was under were so strict that she was banned from lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk for a total of 13 weeks, nor was she allowed to even go for a walk.
Despite the difficulty, both Tarek and Christina were happy to comply – after all, they were having a baby, and they’d do anything to keep it safe and healthy. Their dedication thankfully paid off, and the couple welcomed a son, Brayden, into the world. However, due to their busy schedule, Christina had to return to work just four weeks after giving birth, which put a strain on the relationship. Christina even revealed to People magazine that they couldn’t communicate well anymore.
Celebrating Family and Success
The couple continued to throw themselves into work, and ‘Flip or Flop’ was even more of a success than it was before. And, most importantly, Tarek was in good health after such a worrying time. With their two beautiful children, it seemed as though things were looking up. In April 2016, to celebrate seven years of marriage, the couple decided to spend some of their fortunes on a special gift.
The gift was a 50-foot yacht – a true symbol of wealth and luxury that they docked in California and aptly named ‘Flip or Flop.’ It was huge – big enough to sleep up to eight people – and some reports claimed that it had cost Tarek and Christina more than a staggering $1 million.
The Incident That Sparked Rumors
It seemed to everyone on the outside that Tarek and Christina were living the high life, to say the least. Most people could only dream about that kind of lifestyle, and it’s safe to say that they had a lot of admirers. However, it turned out that a lot was going on behind the scenes that no one knew about.
In May 2016, according to reports, 11 police deputies and a helicopter were seen around the couple’s house, with an ambulance arriving shortly afterward. No one knew what had happened, but people feared the worst, with reports speculating that they had a huge fight that got out of hand. Apparently, Tarek left the house, and Christina emerged after him in tears – but people wondered why this required the police and an ambulance.
Armed, Angry, and Dangerous
As it turned out, there was a good reason the police arrived on the scene promptly. Before Tarek stormed out of the house, he supposedly took a gun out of the safe and put it in his backpack in front of multiple witnesses. He then left and headed toward a hiking trail that led away from the house.
According to reports, the witnesses feared that Tarek was considering taking his own life, but they had no idea how to find him. As a result, they called the authorities, who were soon able to track him down using a helicopter. They ordered him to drop his weapon. Allegedly, he complied and agreed to go back to the house with the police. Tarek, however, tells the story a little differently.
Two Sides to Every Story
According to Tarek, he only took the gun to ensure he had protection from any wildlife he might have encountered around the mountains, such as rattlesnakes and mountain lions. He claimed that he made this clear to everyone at the house and that he was confused as to how it got so blown out of proportion.
He stated that he never contemplated suicide, and instead just needed to cool off. Furthermore, the ambulance was apparently never necessary, and they hadn’t really needed the police helicopter. Speaking to People magazine, the couple tried to brush the incident under the carpet by claiming that it was all “an unfortunate misunderstanding” and that no violence had been involved.
Coming Out of the Woodwork
As is always the case, once one scandal hit the headlines, others soon followed. An increasing number of stories started coming out of the woodwork, and fans of the couple were shocked. For example, TMZ reported that child services had been involved with the couple due to Brayden tripping and falling into the swimming pool while in the care of the nanny.
According to reports, the nanny immediately got Brayden, who was conscious, out of the pool. Christina, however, on arriving hearing about what happened, insisted she take her son to hospital to ensure there was no water in his lungs. In turn, the hospital was obliged to contact child services, but everything was cleared up pretty quickly.
Tarek and the Scandalous Affair
TMZ was also responsible for another publicized scandal. In essence, an affair between Tarek and the nanny, 23-year-old Alyssa Logan, despite Tarek and Christina claiming to the world that their marriage was back on track. There was video footage of Tarek and Alyssa together at a concert in Florida, but people didn’t know what to believe.
TMZ reported that Christina forbid Tarek to spend time with Alyssa while she was working as the children’s nanny – presumably, she thought this would solve the problem. Tarek, on the other hand, allegedly simply fired Alyssa so that they would be able to continue their affair. However, it seemed as though soon after this, they called it off as they stopped being spotted together.
Fans’ Speculation is Rife
Speculation as to whether Tarek and Christina would stay together or end their marriage was rife. In December 2016, the news that fans had been waiting for was released: they had officially decided to separate. In a joint statement released in US Weekly, they explained that they “had challenges in [their] marriage” and that they wanted to “re-evaluate the future of [their] marriage” rather than file for divorce.
Of utmost importance, they said they were staying as civil as possible and true to their loyal fans. They even addressed the incident involving the police and the gun, explaining that it had prompted them to attend consulting sessions in an attempt to work out the differences between them and save their relationship.
Filing for a Divorce
Just a month later, in January 2017, Tarek announced in People magazine that the couple would be filing for a divorce. It seemed as though the trial separation was well and truly out the window. Reports also ran that, despite announcing their separation at the end of 2019, they’d actually been apart since the beginning of that year.
Either way, Christina was keeping quiet and well out of the limelight. It seemed as though she was letting Tarek do all of the talking. That is, until February 2017, when she made her television comeback in an interview with ABC news. However, she didn’t divulge much about the split; instead, staying classy, if not somewhat mysterious.
In a Good Place
Although in the celebrity world, many couples profess their intention of staying amicable during a split before promptly going back on that in a very public manner, it seemed as though Tarek and Christina would be different. Fans began to think that they’d be able to pull it off, which was affirmed by Christina when she was at an event in March 2017, and she said that she was getting on fine with Tarek.
Christina specifically stated that she and Tarek were “in a very good place right now” and doing “a really good job” of keeping it friendly for the sake of the children. After all, they were sharing custody of both Taylor and Brayden. For the most part, it looked like they were managing well. However, it wasn’t long at all before more stories of scandals about their marriage began to hit the headlines, driving a wedge between the two.
The Truth Is Revealed
According to reports, Tarek’s battle with cancer had, in fact, taken a much larger toll on the couple’s relationship than anyone had ever realized. Apparently, it had all but ended it. During an interview with Pop Sugar, Tarek seemed to corroborate this, saying that his hormone medication as part of his cancer treatment negatively affected him both physically and mentally.
According to Tarek himself, he became increasingly anxious, tired, and irritable during his treatment. Plus, he started gaining weight quite rapidly. He didn’t feel or look like himself anymore, and it was getting him down. In turn, this was having a hugely detrimental effect on his marriage.
Reliving Those Devastating Times
Tarek also revealed to Pop Sugar that both he and Christina had been “devastated” when they were told the thyroid cancer had spread and that they found it incredibly difficult to keep the news to themselves. In all, it took Tarek three years of treatment and recovery before he was back to his usual self, which is a long time when your marriage is suffering at the same time.
Consequently, those three years felt like a lifetime for the couple. In March 2017, Tarek confessed to People magazine that at the time, the couple had been so busy, plus overwhelmed with concern about Tarek’s health, that they stopped communicating. This only made small problems grow exponentially.
A Different Kind of Pain
Although the headlines had been dominated by Tarek’s poor health, he wasn’t the only one who had been suffering physically during their marriage. Christina has struggled with her pregnancies, especially her miscarriage, and later confessed to People that the couple “went through a lot in a short space of time.” The continued IVF failure had only added to their desperation, and both Tarek and Christina had been fraught with worry during her pregnancies.
Christina also revealed that she had felt at the time that heading back to work just four weeks after the birth of her second child had been a huge mistake. She hadn’t been ready, but she’d pushed herself – and the communication between her and Tarek disintegrated so much that they ended up driving two separate cars to the set of ‘Flip or Flop.’
The El Moussa Seminars
The revelations didn’t end there – and the ‘shock’ separation of a much-loved couple began to seem increasingly plausible. Fans had been aware that in addition to presenting ‘Flip or Flop,’ the El Moussas had given real estate seminars to budding contractors, and they were extremely popular, given the couple’s publicized success.
All that Tarek and Christina really had to do was arrive and talk about something that they’d been doing so well for years, and most people were under the impression that the couple did exactly that. However, an increasing number of people that attended the seminars started to complain, and the bad reviews started to come out after the couple split.
Voicing Their Disappointment
According to InTouch, disappointed attendees of the El Moussa seminars in Ohio and Iowa asked their attorneys to investigate the seminar program. In fact, one person even stated that she had been “suckered” out of thousands of dollars by the couple’s seminar program, claiming that, in total, she had paid out a staggering amount of $41,000.
Officers apparently investigated, and reports suggested that the seminar contracts were somewhat untrustworthy. The authorities recovered $3,000 for the woman, and Tarek and Christina offered her a refund. The controversy surrounding the seminars didn’t stop there. However, there were also complaints that they often didn’t turn up, which the couple denied.
A Wildly Incompatible Couple
It also emerged that money had been a huge problem in Tarek and Christina’s marriage. Apparently, they experienced some significant financial issues that had contributed to their deteriorating relationship. According to reports, they were mainly as a result of their differing ideas about spending and saving money. A ‘close source’ told People magazine that the couple was “wildly incompatible.”
The source also revealed that while Tarek didn’t feel the need to buy a lot of luxurious and expensive items, and was happy to save the majority of his money, Christina preferred the finer things life, and money, had to offer. As a result, they allegedly repeatedly clashed overspending habits.
Spiraling Out of Control
The source stated that the money coming in as a result of the success of ‘Flip or Flop’ meant that the couple was able to do pretty much anything they wanted for the first time in either of their lives. For Christina in particular, it was almost overwhelming, apparently, and what started out as a few luxury items turned into a shopping habit that began to spiral out of control.
Supposedly, it wasn’t too long before Christina was completely hooked on splashing the cash on whatever fancy purchase she wanted to make next. Her entire focus was on getting the next best thing and making the most out of the perks that come with being rich and famous. Apparently, Tarek couldn’t or didn’t want to keep up, and it soon became an issue between him and his wife.
The Jonathan Schmier Scandal
Yet another scandal that was splashed onto the front page of magazines all over the nation was a specific incident involving Tarek, Christina, and one of their former employees, a man named Jonathan Schmier. He was a contractor and had done a lot of work for the couple during their house-flipping days. As it turned out, he had a bone to pick with them.
TMZ reported that Jonathan was claiming that El Moussas owed him thousands of dollars to cover the work he did for them. Apparently, they had avoided paying him and then just refused altogether. The story he told painted both Tarek and Christina in an extremely unflattering light.
The Drama in North Carolina
According to Jonathan, he met Tarek and Christina when they were looking for homes in North Carolina to renovate. Their company, Next Level Property Investments, hired him to find houses, which he immediately set about doing. He claims that he found a total of five houses for the couple before the subject of payment even came up.
Jonathan states that he was meant to be paid $5,000 for every house that he found, plus and additional wage for all of the out-of-hours work that he put in. Apparently, the company, effectively, Tarek and Christina, never paid a penny. The result? Jonathan was angry and tried to sue the couple for a staggering $37,800 to cover the work he did.
Putting Up a Façade
All of these stories suggested one thing: despite the personas both Tarek and Christina had on their television show, their real characters that came out when the cameras stopped rolling were, in fact, very different. People began to wonder whether their bubbly personalities and seemingly loving relationship were a façade.
Again, a ‘close source’ spoke to Inside magazine, where they revealed that the couple was living in what was described as “the ultimate house of horrors.” Apparently, Tarek and Christina would often scream and shout at each other, accusing the other of lying, cheating, spying, and keeping secrets. A neighbor even said that the couple would fight all day and night, then post sweet messages about each other online. To many people, it seemed like a sham.
The Neighbor Reveals All
The neighbor didn’t stop there. They also stated that Tarek and Christina were “living a complete double life.” Although that’s not really too unusual in the celebrity world, from the sound of it, this situation was worse than most. It seemed as though Tarek and Christina had been hiding their unhappiness for a long time.
Delays that they’d experienced in the past regarding home renovations were also put down to arguing, with sources claiming that Christina constantly changed her mind and expected Tarek to accommodate her whims without any question. Now, it seemed understandable and reasonable that they wanted to call it a day on their relationship. After all, you can only live a lie for so long.
Lies Mixing With the Truth
It seemed as though the rumors of problems in the marriage held a lot more truth than people first thought, but fans still weren’t sure what to believe. There was so much information coming out every week that the lies got mixed with the truth, and it was hard to separate the two. One source even went as far as to say that Tarek blamed the entire split solely on Christina.
Obviously, that’s a bold statement to make, but it would seem that Tarek was angry at the time. Apparently, he’d wanted to keep information about their split out of the media, but suspected Christina of leaking information herself. In his mind, Christina was trying to tarnish his reputation and, therefore, skewer his hopes of getting signed for a solo spin-off show.
Pressure From All Angles
Soon, the media was reporting that it was actually Tarek that was to blame for the split, as he was often short-tempered and harsh to Christina, frequently shouting at her and calling her horrible names in front of people on set. Allegedly, there was video footage proving this, but it never went public. Of course, Tarek denied these claims.
Then, reports surfaced that an executive at HGTV had known the couple was unhappy put pressure on them both to make it look like nothing was wrong, in the interest of the television ratings. The executive apparently believed that the show was nothing without Tarek and Christina, and was terrified they’d split and end the show.
Acting for the Cameras
As a result, HGTV asked Tarek and Christina to work together and act like they were in love until their contracts were over. After that, they were free to do what they’d like. Apparently, the couple was threatened with legal action against them for breach of contract if they refused. Ironically, however, the rumors of divorce actually helped ratings go up.
By the time season seven came, which was the only season filmed during their public break up, ‘Flip or Flop’ was attracting an average of 17 million people per episode. It had never been so popular! To top it off, it was the longest season of all. Speaking to the Today Show, Tarek confessed that it was difficult for both of them, but at the end of the day, it was their job.
Affairs and Whirlwind Relationships
It wasn’t long before the rumors of an unhappy marriage and failing relationship soon gave way to allegations of affairs and whirlwind relationships. This is nothing new in the celebrity world, but fans couldn’t quite believe Tarek and Christina were at the center of the rumors when they had seemed so perfectly happy for so long.
However, some sources were claiming that both Tarek and Christina had already begun seeing new people way before they publicly announced their split, months before, in fact. Although we’d already heard about Alyssa, the former nanny, Christina, was rumored to have become involved with a former contractor named Gary Anderson.
An Instant Forbidden Connection
According to Touch Weekly, Gary had first met the El Moussas back in 2015, and there had been some kind of instant attraction between Gary and Christina. Sources reported that, unbeknown to the rest of the world, they grew closer by the day for the duration of the time they worked together, and it wasn’t long before people noticed.
That included Tarek, who began to be suspicious about how much time they were spending together and how well they seemed to get on. However, they denied any wrongdoing, and he had no concrete evidence. Giving up on this idea, things seemed to calm down. Unfortunately, it hadn’t lasted for long.
More to the Tale
When the police incident involving Tarek and the gun occurred, Gary had actually been at a neighbor’s house at the time. Upon hearing the commotion, he ran over to the El Moussa house to see what was going on. Allegedly, he stayed with Christina while everyone left to help her deal with the police, as well as her husband.
Once Tarek and Christina split, and the rumors began circulating about the latter’s extramarital affairs, In Touch reported that sources stated that Gary was actually romantically involved with Christina at the time, and Tarek had seen text messages between the two, which is why he lost his cool in the first place.
Finding Happiness and Fulfilment
Whatever may or may not have happened, their divorce was finalized in January 2019. Both Tarek and Christina turned to social media to share positive, inspirational quotes about life, self-care, and finding happiness and fulfillment. It seemed as though both of them were glad that they were now single and looking forward to the next chapter of their lives.
In an interview with RuPaul, Tarek reaffirmed that message. He said that although he had never in his wildest dreams expected his marriage to end, especially in the way that it did, he wouldn’t change anything about the experience. He claimed that this was because both the marriage and the subsequent divorce made him a better person and father overall.
Focusing on the Future
It seemed as though Tarek had put any anger, resentment, and bitterness behind him and was now focusing on the future. As for Christina? She went on to marry Ant Anstead, a British television presenter, and the pair soon welcomed a son of their own. As a result, they have blended their families, as each had two children from previous marriages.
Reportedly, Tarek has been totally supportive of Christina and her new life. In fact, Christina told Us Weekly that Tarek congratulated the pair soon after their wedding via a text. It seems like both have had closure on a huge chapter of their life, and that they’re both moving on after a tumultuous breakup.
‘Til Death Do Us Part
Something that came to a shock to everyone was the fate of ‘Flip or Flop.’ Instead of being cut after Tarek and Christina split, as everyone thought it would be, and it continued to run with the ex-El Moussas continuing to be the faces of it. Although they were no longer married, they’d built up a huge business empire that they weren’t ready to give up yet.
Despite a few misgivings, the show is currently just as successful as it was when Tarek and Christina were happily married. They continue to flip houses, and fans can’t seem to get enough. Looking forward, it seems as though they both want the same thing: for their children to be happy and settled as they both move forward, albeit separately, with their lives.