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Inside Mary Kay Letourneau’s Split from Student-Turned-Husband: ‘She Always Wanted Him to Man Up’

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During their 12-year marriage, Vili Fualauu and Mary Kay Letourneau lived quietly together in a modest home near Seattle.

To those who knew them, the couple seemed disconcertingly normal considering that they began a sexual relationship when Fualauu was a 12-year-old sixth grader and Letourneau was his 34-year-old teacher.

Ultimately, she was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years behind bars for child rape in connection with their relationship and remains a registered sex offender in Washington state.

But despite the illegality of their start, the couple’s romance endured: They got married in 2005, once Letourneau was released from prison, and created a life together.

He worked at a home improvement store and as a part-time DJ on the side. She was a paralegal. They raised their two daughters, Audrey and Georgia, now 20 and 18 years old, and they largely avoided the national spotlight after years of making headlines.

• For more on Mary Kay Letourneau’s shocking romance with her student-turned-husband, Vili Fualaau, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands now.

Vili Fualaau and Mary Kay Letourneau (center, left and right) with their two daughters, Audrey and Georgia, in 2015.
Heidi Gutman/ABC/Getty

But like every marriage, there were issues. Last month, Fualaau filed for legal separation from Letourneau, apparently putting an end to a relationship that lasted for more than 20 years.

News of the split has surprised many friends who have known the couple for years. But one friend of Fualaau’s, who also works as a DJ, says Letourneau, 55, sometimes seemed unhappy with her 33-year-old husband — and vice versa.

“He complained about her sometimes, but all guys complain about their wives,” says the friend. “He said she nagged a lot. She always wanted him to man up and take responsibility.”

“She was making the money, and he was trying to get his career as a DJ to take off, so he would spend a lot of time working on that,” the friend of Fualaau’s explains. “He said that she would be pissed off that he wasn’t doing as much around the house as she was.”

From left: Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau at a Seattle area club where Fualaau was working as a DJ.
Splash News Online

The friend says that Letourneau sometimes did the lion’s share of housework: “She handled everything — like the money, the chores, all of it.”

This was a source of friction between them, according to the friend.

“She would get on him when he wasn’t doing his part,” the friend says. “She’d want him to be more involved in the raising of the kids, like go to their shows and things.”

Neither Fualaau nor Letourneau have spoken publicly about their separation, and the final breaking point, if there was one, remains unclear. His friend says there were bright spots in their coupling as well as conflicts.

“He complained like guys complain about their wives, but he loved her,” the friend says. “They usually got along. He didn’t complain when she’d show up to the clubs. He seemed happy to see her.”