Gina Neely Just Got Real About Why She Walked Away From Her Husband Of 20 Years

Gina Neely
@ginaneely via Instagram

Breakups aren't easy. And if you have been married, had children, and built a business together, then divorce will be even harder. But when Gina Neely decided to call it quits in 2016, the popular Down Home with the Neelys co-host left and hasn't looked back.

In a recent interview with PEOPLE Magazine, Gina remembers vividly the day she walked out on husband Pat. The Neelys were high school sweethearts who reconnected over a decade after graduation. They wed and spent over 20 years together. Gina hasn't spoken to Pat since.

"I remember leaving with my purse and my duffle bag, and I was out of there," Gina said. "I haven't spoken to Pat in four years."

The couple shared two daughters. Gina brought 29-year-old Spenser to their union from a previous marriage. Shelby, 23, is the only child the Neelys had together. Because the girls were of age, there was no need to make contact. But Gina harbors no ill-will against Pat. She wishes him well, but he just was not right for her anymore. What Gina wanted out of life was completely different than the path she felt forced to follow.

"I never wanted to be a TV chef. I was a branch manager at a bank," Gina explained. "I was going to divorce Pat prior to the show. And then all of a sudden the train jumped on the track and I had to hold on for my life."

Gina felt trapped. The show and the fame were not things that she wanted. The couple was spending all of their time together working. Their girls, Gina said, "hated" the Food Network show and wanted her to quit. 

The now 52-year-old was living a lie being lovey-dovey on camera and secretly wanting to escape the entire situation. Making matters worse, the all-consuming business relationship killed the romance.

"There was no balance, no boundaries. We should have been allowed space so we could have a stronger feeling of love for that person," Gina said. "But when you're with a person all the time and then that person tells you, 'I feel like we don't spend enough time together,' what do you do then? I remember specifically saying to him, 'What more do you want from me? I don't know what else I can do? I give you all my time, everything.' I was done."

Even though the couple is no longer in touch, neither speaks negatively about the other. Pat Neely is still cooking and is hosting a show on the CW Network called "Save to Win!" Gina Neely is back on television as well looking for love on a new reality show on called To Rome for Love.

Click here to get alerts of the latest stories