Bethenny Frankel and husband Jason Hoppy with daughter Bryn
After calling this their "toughest year ever," reality star Bethenny Frankel
announced on Dec. 23 that she and Jason Hoppy, her husband
of nearly three years, were separating
Having said earlier this year that the two were fighting for their marriage
(her show Bethenny Ever After
focused on the struggle), Frankel, 42, had revealed her concerns to PEOPLE during an interview in May.
"Nothing comes easily for me," she said at the time. "Being successful in business doesn't come easy for me. Marriage doesn't come easily for me. You have to fight for everything."
Regarding her relationship with Hoppy, "Our core issues are wanting the other person to be somebody they are not," she said. "Jason is more balanced. He doesn't want to work 24 hours a day. He wants to play golf and go out with his friends."
She added, "The irony is, we chose each other for who the person is – and then sometime you want it both ways."
Although much of what the couple went through ended up on TV ("Money, family, gender roles, we just keep fighting over them," she said. "It's almost like a scab that you keep picking at"), she insisted that having their lives in the spotlight did not worsen the situation.
"Our issues are our issues, and I can't say reality TV exacerbates that," she said. "We had our issues when we were dating. We always had the struggle to accept one another."
Their basic issue? "He feels there are so many people who have a piece of me," she said. "The core issues are he wants me to open up to let me in, and my basic thing is, I don’t want to be in a situation where I can't say what I feel. I have to be in a relationship where I can say what I feel even if it's wrong – so we can work through it."
Ideally, she said, "I just wanted to be able to say something, without him saying I am a bad person for having those feelings. What can I be, besides honest?"
In the end, emphasizing that the happiness of 2½-year-old daughter Bryn
remained her chief concern, Frankel said, "I've often thought that if I didn't make it work, I would end up alone and that I would never want to be married again."