Alexis Bellino is opening up about the end of her 14-year marriage to ex-husband Jim Bellino.
On Tuesday, the mother of three made a surprise visit to The Real Housewives of Orange County, where she sat down with current Housewife Emily Simpson for a candid conversation about life after divorce.
“It was just a really broken marriage for a lot of years,” Alexis, 42, said. “There just comes a time when you realize, it’s time to move on.”
It was the first time Alexis had appeared on the Bravo show since her departure from the series back in season 8. She originally joined RHOC when the franchise was in its fifth season, showcasing her life with Jim, 57, and their three children: son James, 13, and twin daughters Melania and Mackenna, who turn 12 in November.
Of course, this being reality TV, the Bravo cameras caught both the ups and the downs of Alexis and Jim’s marriage — including a recurring conflict they had over Alexis’ desire to spend time with her castmates.
“Wives stay home,” he told her during one particularly tense scene, replayed on Tuesday’s episode. “There’s only so much time in a day to raise my children. You’ve got to say no to some things.”
Moments like that left Alexis and Jim moving in opposite directions.
“I think in life when you’re with someone, there’s two options. You can grow apart or you can grow together,” she told Simpson. “We grew apart.”
“Divorce sucks, it’s not easy,” Alexis added. “I think it’s almost harder than death. It is a death, the death of a 14-year marriage.”
That said, Alexis did make it a point to note that she and Jim are co-parenting well together.
“I love the relationship that I see between Jim and the kids,” she said.
Alexis and Jim finalized their divorce in August 2018.
Per their spousal support agreement, obtained by PEOPLE, Jim agreed to pay Alexis $6,000 per month in child support ($2,000 for each child) until each child passes the age of 18, as well as $10,000 a month in spousal support.
In addition, Jim took two of their California properties while Alexis kept their mansion in San Juan Capistrano. She also got another amount of $250,000 “upon the signing of the Judgement by both parties.”
“It is with heavy hearts that we inform the public of our mutual decision to end our marriage– but it’s important to us that you know we made this choice together, with love, and as the best decision for our children’s future,” Jim and Alexis explained.
“We hold one another in the highest regard as spouses, and especially as parents. We have agreed on 50/50 custody of the children, and we ask that you respect our privacy by not theorizing about the reasons for our divorce,” they said. “Our marriage was a good one, but we were never perfect people or spouses– no one is and in this respect, we were a lot like millions of other married people.”
They went on to admit in their statement that they drifted apart over the course of their marriage.
“And, just like millions of other married people, we simply grew apart over time — there is no ill will or bad blood between us,” they said. “We ultimately want you to feel happy for us, respect our privacy during this difficult time, and pray for our mutual benefit as we weather this storm.”
The statement concluded, “To the fans who have supported us since the beginning, we’re grateful for how you cheers us on — we ask that you continue to cheer as our lives and the lives of our children change and ultimately improve as a result of this difficult decision.”
Since then, Alexis has moved on, going Instagram Official back in February with boyfriend Andy “Drew” Bohn.
“This is the kind of love I thought only existed in fairytales,” she told Simpson on Tuesday’s episode, of her relationship with Bohn. “I really didn’t think it was true.”
“Every friend who had met him and I together has gone, ‘Holy s—, you guys have had something that I’ve never seen,’ ” she added. “I’m just really happy.”
The two haven’t been shy about their love for one another on social media, frequently posting pictures together.
“I feel like we’ve already lived a lifetime together with all we’ve been through,” Alexis wrote in September, while wishing Bohn a happy 40th birthday. “You bring out my smile instantly and daily. I thank God every day… URMY1.”
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.