Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich‘s marriage is over.
The Dancing With the Stars champ and professional hockey player are going their separate ways. The duo announced the news on Friday.
“We have lovingly and carefully taken the time we have needed to arrive at our decision to separate,” they two said a joint statement to People, which broke the news. “We share an abundance of love and respect for one another and will continue to lead with our hearts from that place. We kindly request your compassion and respect for our privacy moving forward.”
Julianne and Brooks exchanged vows in the summer 2017 and had been together since 2013. While everything seemed picture-perfect in the beginning, fans later wondered if there was trouble in paradise after Julianne was spotted without her wedding ring on several occasions. The pair had also toned down their typically lovey-dovey social media posts, and in October, their personal lives were rocked by the sudden deaths of both of their dogs.
Still, the two were occasionally spotted together, including on a brunch date and in a KINRGY session. The split speculation was then fueled in April after followers learned Julianne and Brooks weren’t social distancing together amid the global coronavirus pandemic. A source told E! News the duo wanted to “work on this privately before making any final decisions.”
“They continue to spend time apart and are doing their own thing,” an insider told E! News in May. “They are still in contact and have not committed to any future decisions. They are happy doing it this way and will see what happens. Its working for them for now. They have so much love for one another and just want to make sure the other one is at their best and the happiest they can be. They are staying present and in the moment. This is the way it looks for right now.”
Julianne was also spotted hanging out with Ben Barnes in April.
Both Julianne, 31, and Brooks, 36, had publicly discussed the ups and downs of married life before.
“I thought I had my life figured out and then Julianne walked into my life and completely changed it and I’m so grateful for that,” the How Men Think podcast host told E! News last summer. “We say this: We want to have the best f–king relationship ever. That’s what we say.”
Brooks added, “That being said, we need to work at that and by work, I mean commit. We feel very fortunate with the strength of our relationship and the present love we have in our life and we want that for everybody. We’re starting to open up about it more.”
And speaking of opening up, Julianne’s interview about her sexuality revealed a different side of her to fans.
“I [told him], ‘You know I’m not straight, right?’ And he was like, ‘I’m sorry, what?’ I was like, ‘I’m not. But I choose to be with you,'” she recalled to Women’s Health about a conversation with Brooks. “I think there’s a safety with my husband now that I’m unpacking all of this, and there’s no fear of voicing things that I’ve been afraid to admit or that I’ve had shame or guilt about because of what I’ve been told or how I was raised.”
“I’ve been de-layering all the survival tactics I’ve built up my whole life,” she said. “Now, I feel limitless.”
Brooks also talked about “exploring” his sexuality.
“I’ve shared this on this show many times, like, a big part of my journey in 2020 is exploring my sexuality,” he said during one of his podcast episodes. “And by that I don’t mean if I’m gay or straight, I mean like, in my sexual relationship what is my sexuality and what am I craving and what are my desires and what are my wife’s and how could we have this language to feed each other and get everything we want and be sexually expressed to the nth degree in everything?”
Despite the separate paths both Julianne and Brooks have decided to take, it’s safe to say they’ll always share a mutual respect for each other.
In describing his now ex-wife, the athlete previously shared with E! News, “She leads with her heart everywhere she goes. She supports everybody and for them to become the best versions of themselves.”
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