Gina and Pat Neely of Down Home with the Neelys were the “It” couple of cooking shows. Their Food Network series was the highest-rated program in the history of the network. So when news spread in 2014 that the golden couple were calling it quits, many people were surprised. The cause according to their divorce papers was “irreconcilable differences.” But according to Gina Neely’s upcoming Where Are They Now? interview on OWN, they were having problems for quite some time and the show just exacerbated them.
“TV just fell in my lap. I was just Gina,” Neely said. “The Deen brothers, Paula Deen’s sons, said, ‘We would like to offer you a show. You have a great dynamic, you’re high school sweethearts, you look good on TV.’ I just kind of went with it.”
Despite all of the success of the series, Neely stated that she never really wanted to do it. The show made a volatile relationship even worse as she had to go out of her way to allow Pat to have the spotlight.
“The crazy part about it was, I never wanted to do that show. I never wanted to live my life quite out loud like that,” she said. “I found myself kind of trying to dim my light to make his light shine, and that’s never a good thing.”
After leaving him, which took quite a bit of time for Gina to build up the courage to do, she lost weight (a reported 34 pounds) and found herself happier than ever.
“Pat is not a bad guy, he’s just not for me,” she said. “I didn’t want to divorce my husband, but it became necessary to do it in order for me to be my best self. I felt the marriage started being in trouble when we started working together. He felt like we didn’t spend enough time together. I felt like we did, and we needed a little space.”
She continued: “I was thinking about divorce right before we got the TV show. We went to therapy 12 times. I tried to leave five times and I just didn’t have the strength,” she said. “But the fifth time, I held on to that. It became necessary for me to find my path. And I knew I wasn’t happy. And I said, I’m definitely not going to take 50 and not be happy. So at 46, I started changing my life, I started changing my body and I realized I liked that better.”
Where Are They Now? airs on Saturday at 10 p.m. on OWN. Check out preview clips of her interview below and let us know if you can relate to what she had to say about her marriage and leaving it to find her true self.