At the epicenter of the dramatic eighth season of “Married To Medicine” was Dr. Contessa Metcalfe’s marriage. Suspected infidelity, among other things, threatened the foundation of her union with fellow physician Dr. Scott Metcalfe. While the unraveling may have been news to viewers who tuned in the last couple of seasons, Contessa says that her marriage has been plagued with issues for years. “This year is the first year that they’ve shown it, but this has been going on in our relationship for a long time,” the Navy veteran tells ESSENCE.

Everything came to a head during part one of the season eight reunion when it was revealed that Contessa had filed for separation. To some, it appeared that Scott had been blindsided by the news. In actuality, Contessa says that Scott simply did not initially wish to speak about the separation at the reunion. “He didn’t want to talk about it,” Contessa explains. “Scott is a don’t-want-talk-about-it kind of person. He’s sort of like, ‘We’ve handled that. Let’s not talk about that anymore.’ That’s how he operates.”

At the present moment, the Metcalfes’ marriage is in limbo. After moving full-speed ahead with plans to separate and divorce, Contessa’s therapist encouraged both parties to wait before making permanent decisions such as selling their marital home or following through with further legal proceedings.

“We filed the first set of paperwork in March. Well, I did,” says Contessa. “Things have kind of progressed a little bit. I am still in therapy and the therapist asked that we wait six months before we proceed with anything.” The standstill, in part, explains why the Metcalfe’s appear to be moving as a unit despite the fact that they are legally separated. However, regardless of how things end up when the trial period concludes two months from now, Contessa says that they will always be a family and will conduct themselves accordingly.

“We always say, ‘We’re either going to have a happy marriage or a happy divorce and six months is not going to change that,’” says Contessa. “That’s the timeline that we’ve set for where we were going to go. We were in fast-forward motion.”

Though the couple has experienced some harsh and hurtful moments on screen – moments that left viewers and co-stars questioning how Contessa could make amends with Scott so quickly or turn around and take family vacations – the reality star says that she will never allow conflict from her marriage to affect her other relationships. 

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“Why is it necessary to be contentious? Just because there’s a problem with our personal relationship. It doesn’t mean that it has to be something that I’m arguing about in front of my children or in front of my friends,” she says. “My daughter is in second grade. We will always and forever be a family. The last thing that I’ll ever do is let something going on between me and my husband spill over into our friendship or family relationships.”

Contessa makes it clear that she does not subscribe to the ideology that reality television shows sabotage relationships. The issues that played out before cameras this season were already there. And while she says that she is not one to volunteer information about her marital challenges, she answered questions honestly this season when asked.

“Transparency is freedom,” says Contessa.

As she continues to work through therapy, Contessa is also writing a book through which she will address some of her childhood trauma, which she believes also plays a role within her marriage.

“Everything goes back to childhood,” she says. “Wherever there’s conflict, there’s something about it that goes back to childhood. So it’s really about understanding everything that’s going on with me, how I got here, and how it contributes to everything else that’s going on.”