"Things were so unhealthy and unhappy for both Jordan and me, I knew I had to end it," the Burlesque star, 29, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. "I really didn't want to hurt Jordan, and I felt torn about splitting our family up."
The decision to end her marriage of five years was not easy for Aguilera, but she strongly felt she had to do what she thought best for her and Jordan's 2½-year-old son.
"When you're unhappy in your marriage, your children are the ones who suffer," says the Grammy-winning pop singer, whose own parents' tumultuous relationship led to divorce when she was 7. "That's the last thing I wanted for my son."
Since filing for divorce, Aguilera has been out in Los Angeles and New York City with a new man, Matthew Rutler, a set assistant on Burlesque.
"He's the kind of person you could spend hours with on the phone talking to and all of a sudden it's daylight," she says.
For more of Aguilera's exclusive interview, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday