Long before Christina and Tarek El Moussa became household names as co-hosts of HGTV’s hit television show, Flip or Flop, they worked together as real estate agents in the Orange County, California area.
A passion for real estate investing is what brought them together, and the ability to work cohesively is what kept them together for the past twelve years, even after a divorce.
Will our joint business survive?
There are an estimated 3.3 million businesses in the U.S. that are jointly owned between spouses. “Depending on the type of business and just how much one spouse is involved compared to the other may determine if the business will survive the marriage,” says Lori Barkus, a South Florida-based family law attorney.
Do we need both a business pre-nup and a marriage pre-nuptial?
In many cases, a business pre-nup gets as much attention as a marriage pre-nuptial arrangement. But what happens when both parties, who lack an emotional investment in the personal relationship are still invested in the business? Can a business thrive when the owners have gone separate ways in their personal life?
I talked with Christina and Tarek about their transition from a blended life to one that is now exclusively professional. They shared six rules they follow to maintain a positive and supportive professional relationship, even though they now lead separate personal lives.
1. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Whether it’s personal or business, staying focused on your goals can help minimize distractions. “Every day that we film, I remember why I’m there,” said Tarek. He says it’s his priority is to support his kids and family.
“Second, I remember how I worked my entire life to build this thing. I don’t want to throw it away because of a divorce. We are good at what we do,” he said. “We love flipping houses, and we enjoy delivering a great TV show that helps change people’s lives.”
2. Keep it professional.
Despite what the tabloids may say about their unconventional relationship, both Tarek and Christina understand that their success depends on their ability to remain professional. “Whether Tarek and I are on camera or giving a seminar together for Success Path, that’s not the time nor place to discuss disagreements in our personal lives,” said Christina. “We believe in this company, and that means keeping our personal lives separate.”
Tarek agreed. “When we’re on set, it’s like a different life than what we live outside of set,” he said. “When we’re doing our job, we’re doing our job.”
3. Put the kids first.
Although it’s tempting (and common) for high-profile couples to use their children as a bargaining tool, Tarek and Christina understand that it is in everyone’s best interest to get along.
“Children come first, and that means doing things that are best for them,” said Christina. “In our children’s case, it was in their best interest to do things together.” Often that decision requires some sacrifice and adjustments on the parent’s part.
For Tarek, separating family life from his work responsibilities meant not working from home anymore. “I may answer emails from home, but I make sure that when I’m home, I am fully present,” he said. “This experience has made me realize how important it is to be a big part of my kids’ lives. I want my children to grow up with a dad who is always there for them.”
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
When tensions are high, it seems everything is a big deal. But to move forward, Christina quickly discovered that not everything is worth fighting about. “When you’re not with that person, you’re not entitled to have those disagreements anymore,” she said.
“Generally, I’m good at letting things go. When Tarek and I first separated, if there was a disagreement, it was important that we walk away from it.” When disagreements happen, her rule is: Don’t react. Because that is the moment when you need to think more clearly.
Immediately after a divorce, no matter how amicable, there is going to be a transition period. “Take time apart in all areas to better understand what you want,” says Kate Taylor, an Entrepreneur contributor. “As you redefine your relationship, you should draw clear lines around your roles and responsibilities at work.”
5. Keep it fun.
After experiencing such a painful, public breakup, laughter can be a great remedy when moving forward. “We have a great crew,” said Christina. “We’ve been friends with all of them for a long time. Because of that, it makes everything much easier because it’s such a great workplace.”
Both Tarek and Christina make sure to contribute to a positive work environment. Their professionalism means everyone feels happy, comfortable, and they want to come to work.
6. Ignore the false stories.
Of course, the tabloids will continue to weave stories as long as they sell, but Tarek and Christina aren’t buying it. “It doesn’t affect my life in any way,” said Christina. “I know what’s true.”
Instead, they are focused on their Success Path Education Program, which enables them to travel throughout the U.S. and share real estate investment training through a tried and true system they’ve perfected.
We will still have challenges.
This three-day event is open to anyone who wants to empower their lives through a new course. “We’ve had many hardships in our lives — financially, physically, and so many challenges,” said Tarek. “Since flipping houses, and sharing those experiences with each other, it changed our life. It gave us the life that people dream of.”
Both of them have come to believe that life is about challenges, and if you can’t challenge yourself, you can’t be successful. Getting divorced was certainly a challenge, but they were able to face that challenge with positivity.
Their decision to move forward as a unit is an inspiring model for those that sign up for the Success Path Program. Their willingness to share their knowledge has helped thousands of people.
Couple such as Grace and Ernest Abbott from Omaha, Nebraska, have secured four real estate deals in less than one year since taking the class. Tiffaney Gourley from Holmdel, New Jersey, made $62,000 from one deal, and she has two more arrangements in the works.
As for those who still question their ability to move on with common goals despite their separate lives — Christina is unfazed by the skeptics. “Business is what we’ve always done best together.
“Tarek and I both agree we work great together regardless of whether or not we are married,” she said. “We make a great co-parenting team, as well. There is nothing I would have done differently.”
This article was originally published by Entrepreneur.