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‘Strong’ Brittany Cartwright Shares New Details of Jax Taylor Split: ‘He Thought I Would Come Right Back’ (Exclusive)

It’s been over two months since Brittany Cartwright moved out of the L.A. home she shared with her husband of four years, Jax Taylor. Since then, the Vanderpump Rules alum has been taking stock of their nearly decade-long relationship. “I’ve forgiven Jax for things that I shouldn’t have over the years. I stood by him no matter what. But after nine years, that can wear on you,” Cartwright, 35, shares. The Kentucky native and Taylor, 44, are currently starring in the hit new reality series The Valley (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Bravo), which follows the couple and their friends as they navigate parenthood and marriage.

Cartwright announced the separation in February on the duo’s “When Reality Hits” podcast. “Jax and I are taking time apart,” she revealed. (The pair share son Cruz, 3.)

Cartwright tells Us that Taylor has yet to put in the work when it comes to fixing their marriage. “Things are in his hands if he’s going to fix some things in our relationship, so we will see,” she says, adding that “it’s disappointing” Taylor hasn’t stepped up just yet.

“I don’t think that he thought I was actually going to leave, and it’s been three months now,” Cartwright adds. “So I think that he thought I would come right back and things would go right back to how they were, and that’s just not happening.”

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She tells Us she still doesn’t know what the future holds for her and Taylor, but she’s confident she’s making the right decision for now. “I feel good,” she says. “I feel strong, and I’m proud of myself for doing what’s right for my mental health and my family.”

Tell Us about the last big fight that led to you moving out. Did it stem from a night out with Kristen Doute?

That was just the last fight before I packed up my bag and was like, ‘I have to get out of here.’ We were fighting a lot. The night that I went out with Kristen, I came home at 10 o’clock [and] he didn’t come home ‘til 4 o’clock in the morning. So he was out way later than me. I don’t know if he was hungover the next morning or what, but he comes in and starts a huge fight with me. He, like, made a story up in his head that [Kristen’s boyfriend], Luke, was reaching out to him saying we were already having issues in our marriage at that time. He gets in his head. He doesn’t like to think that I’m telling people about our problems. He wants me to keep everything to myself. He doesn’t want me to talk to anybody else about it. … But in reality, Luke never texted him. So he just made up this big story to sort of fight with me the next morning because he was having insecurities in his own head. It was almost, like, the stories were being made up to start a fight with me. And it was happening numerous times. That wasn’t the only time. I like, ‘OK, this is insane. I cannot deal with this. This is obviously a toxic situation. If you don’t get help, then me and Cruz are not going to be living here right now.’ Because it just didn’t feel it didn’t feel right.

Jax opened a bar [Jax’s Studio City sports bar] and was trying to get his business up and running. Was drinking a big contributing factor to your marital struggles?

If we were to be drinking, or anything like that, we were always going to be fighting. Stuff like that’s always not good if you’re already in a bad place. … I’m not saying he shouldn’t be at the bar. But there has to be a limit on how late you stay or how often you go. There needs to be boundaries set in place.

You said things got worse after The Valley finished filming. How so?

We’d always talked about having more kids, and he started questioning that. We weren’t being intimate. … We were getting on each other’s nerves. I’m not perfect; I was yelling at him too. It just started getting bad. He was staying at the bar more. A lot of things piled up.

Brittany Cartwright Us Weekly 2417 Cover No Chips
Michelle Sulcov, Glamour, ©Condé Nast

You mentioned would embarrass you in the public eye. [Taylor claimed on House of Villains that Cartwright had a stroke, which she denied, later clarifying she had “stroke-like symptoms.”] How does that feel to have your spouse betray you like that?

It was very embarrassing, and he doesn’t really understand. To him, he would be like, ‘Well, I just care about you. I was so worried about you. I care about you so much. Like, I was just telling a story.’ I was like, “Yeah, but you added that I, for sure, had a stroke and you knew at that point that I didn’t.” So you just lied on a TV show. That’s harmful to me.

Does he acknowledge any wrongdoing in this situation?

He acknowledged it but then he’s always like, ‘I said sorry.’ He likes to think that just saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ will be fine and we should move on. … I can’t do that now, this is too serious. And if things don’t change, then we can’t be together because we’re gonna be unhappy for the rest of our lives. I don’t want to be unhappy for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be in a sexless marriage for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be arguing with my husband for the rest of my life.

You mentioned in a clip from The Valley that you weren’t having much sex.

Keeping things romantic and spicy is how you make it work. If we’re going to make it 20 years, we have to keep this up but it’s already dwindled so much. It was messing with my confidence — why is he not coming on to me? I felt like I wasn’t good enough. If you start to feel like your partner doesn’t want you and they’re also being mean to you, it’s like, “What am I doing here?” I’m basically living with a roommate. I hit my breaking point.

Did you try to talk to him about it?

Yeah. He would say, “I’m 44 and I’m tired.” I was like, “Oh my gosh, everybody has kids, and not everybody’s going through this! I can’t talk to him about things; he always goes on the defensive. He doesn’t care about my side.”

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Do you think being back on reality TV affected your relationship?

Normally I’d say no, but maybe he got a bit of a big head again. He’d made a lot of changes for Cruz, but he started being the old Jax [again]. All season long I wanted to be with him and then things got continually worse. And he likes to throw things in your face like, “I got us a show.” Like I wouldn’t have anything without him.

You’ve dealt with Jax’s bad behavior for years. [Taylor confessed to cheating on Cartwright with their VPR castmate Faith Stowers in 2017.] What makes this different?

After having Cruz, I realized I wanted more in a relationship. I need to make sure Cruz isn’t living in a house where his parents are fighting; that could be a horrible way to grow up.

Are you still in love with Jax?

I am. But it’s different. I was very naive in the beginning on Vanderpump Rules. I was on a TV show, being embarrassed by Jax, but I was madly in love, and I just wanted to be with him. I’m different now. I can stand up for myself and not take his s–t anymore.

What would he have to do to get you back?

There are a lot of things, and I’m not seeing enough effort from his side. He needs to go to therapy. He doesn’t need to be staying out at the bar all the time. He needs to respect me more and stop taking me for granted. I was the closest person to him and was kind of like his punching bag. He was always giving me jabs. I can’t deal with that for the rest of my life.

Do you think he’s taking the separation seriously?

He tries to act like everything is OK. He thinks we can get into an argument, and he can apologize, and then everything’s back to normal.

Feature Brittany Cartwright Us Weekly 2417
Steven Simione/FilmMagic

Jax recently said he has a hard time enjoying life because he feels like he always needs more. Did that play out between you?

He’s never satisfied. We have our son and this beautiful home, the bar and a successful podcast, and he still needs more. He’s gone to doctors and complains that he needs help but then never goes back. I had to pick up the pieces all the time. It’s very frustrating.

Is there a chance you two could get back together?

There’s definitely a chance. But I won’t waste my time and get back into a toxic situation. Now the veil has been lifted and I see how much I was always cleaning up Jax’s messes. I’m thrown in the middle of all these fights and constantly forced to apologize for him in the media and to friends. It’s hard.

Do you have a time frame for when you’d be ready to pull the plug?

We need to have a serious conversation. Every time I try to talk to him, it turns into an argument but I’m obviously not going to do this for very long. I’m spending money on an Airbnb. I would love to be in my house.

Have you guys talked about the house at all if you were to move forward with the divorce?

We haven’t really gotten to figure that out yet. I would love to stay there with me and Cruz and take it over.

Do you feel like you’ll be OK on your own?

Definitely. I feel really strong. At the beginning, I was freaking out. I came to L.A. for Jax and we moved in together immediately, so I’ve never been here by myself. But now I have my own friends and my own money.

How often do you and Jax communicate these days?

He’ll text me random things and send me memes sometimes but I’m trying to focus on Cruz. I do feel like I’m letting Jax have the best of both worlds because he’s still at the house and when I drop Cruz off I will clean or I’ll send groceries over. I need to limit that. He needs to see what it’s like without me doing everything for him.

What are you hoping to see from Jax going forward?

The fighting has to stop. We were just constantly digging at each other. We got to that point, which I think a lot of marriages go through, where everything that the other person does is getting on your nerves. That’s a horrible feeling and a horrible way to live. That’s one of the main reasons I knew that we needed space from each other.

You’ve said you’re open to dating. What are you looking for in a guy?

It’s weird to even think about dating. But I need someone who has their stuff together, who is confident and respectful and makes me laugh. It’s going to be difficult because I am so in the public eye.

Brittany Cartwright Us Weekly 2417
Erik Voake/Getty Images for Wrangler

Have you and Jax talked about seeing other people?

Here and there. We act like it would be OK, but I’m not sure. I think he’d freak out if he saw me with a man. I’d be upset, too. You can get over those things, but the first one might be strange.

How’s Cruz coping? Does he know what’s going on?

If this ends in a divorce, we will discuss what happened with him later in life. We’re not fighting in front of him and we try to do fun things like the aquarium and the zoo. I feel like Cruz is happier that we’re not in the same house right now — and that tells me a lot.

Are you and Jax splitting your time with him evenly?

I probably have Cruz more, but we’re good at being like, “I have this to do today, so I’ll drop him off.” If I come home and Cruz isn’t here, that’s harder than anything. Jax is a good dad to Cruz; he’s just not good to me.

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It sounds like you’re in a decent coparenting groove.

We’re doing great with that. We’re gonna be in each other’s lives whether we stay married or not. I hope that we have more seasons for The Valley. We will be around each other.

Who have you been leaning on the most?

The entire Valley cast has been incredible. Kristen is there for me and [VPR stars] Scheana [Shay] and Lala [Kent] are always texting me and checking in randomly.

How are you taking care of yourself?

I’m trying to stay busy working out, spending time with my friends and talking to my family. I’m focusing on my mental and physical health. This revenge body is about to be insane! I’m getting my sparkle back.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Reporting by Amanda Williams and Christina Garibaldi

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