Kristin Cavallari Breaks Her Silence on Divorce From Jay Cutler

Kristin Cavallari has broken her silence on her split from Jay Cutler, telling PEOPLE Wednesday that things in her marriage of seven years had been difficult for a long time before the two announced they were getting a divorce back in April. The Very Cavallari star revealed she had made a conscious choice to keep her marital woes out of the public eye, despite agreeing to show her personal life on reality TV.

"I always thought it was interesting when people would refer to us as 'couple goals,'" the Uncommon James founder told the outlet. "I was like, 'If you guys only knew.'" During the third and final season of her E! reality show, the Laguna Beach alum admitted her marriage hit a crisis point. "We definitely kept a lot of stuff private," she said. "Producers saw stuff, but they didn't put it in the show — which is good, because I don't want my kids to ever [see that]."

While the couple's split announcement took many people by shock, "It didn't happen overnight," Cavallari recalled. "We tried really, really hard for years and years. It was the hardest decision I've ever made." While the exes went back and forth legally about property and custody for weeks after filing for divorce, the two have now settled into peacefully co-parenting sons Camden, 8, and Jaxon, 6, and daughter Saylor, 4.

"I still care so much about him and talk to him almost every day. We have three kids together. He's going to be in my life forever," she said. Looking back on their lives together and what went wrong, Cavallari reflected, "Every relationship has their stuff. I met Jay when I was 23. I was a baby. Jay and I had so much love for each other, but we grew up," she says. "When you work at something for so many years and nothing's changing, I think you have to just make a decision. We all want to be happy."

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The Hills alum admitted she was "relieved" not to be filming Very Cavallari anymore, as the show came to an end after the most recent third season. "I just knew I was going to have to talk about everything, and I didn't want to," she said. "Thinking about filming was giving me anxiety. ...My kids are the most important thing to me. What's best for them? Probably not doing a reality show, having to talk about divorcing their dad."

It's been a difficult year for the True Comfort author, who felt she was "drowning" at this time in 2019. "That's not to say I don't have really hard days, but for the past however many years, I've been putting everybody else first. I'm going to focus on me for a minute, look inward and figure out what I ultimately want out of life," she explained.