By Stephen M. Silverman
October 02, 2003 10:00 AM

Halle Berry and her husband of less than three years, R&B singer Eric Benet, have separated, the “Monster’s Ball” Oscar winner announced Wednesday, reports the Associated Press.

“Eric and I have had marital problems for some time now and have tried to work things out together,” Berry, 37, said in a statement. “However, at this point, I feel we need time apart to reevaluate our union. We ask that you respect our privacy as we are going through this emotional time.”

Representatives for Benet, who is also 37, did not immediately return AP’s calls for comment, and Berry’s spokesperson would not expand upon the actress’s statement.

Berry first met R&B artist Eric Benet after a 1997 concert at Los Angeles’s House of Blues. There “weren’t any sparks,” she had said, according to a July 2002 PEOPLE article. But after the two swapped emails for more than a year, “I turned to him and said, ‘You know what? I think I love you,'” Berry told PEOPLE.

The couple became engaged three years later, at the Cleveland premiere of Berry’s HBO film “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” and were married in January 2001.

Berry was previously married to Yankees slugger David Justice, but the relationship ended in 1996. Berry and Benet both liked to watch movies and hang around the house, PEOPLE reported last year. They also have been raising India, now 12, Benet’s daughter from a prior relationship (whom Berry adopted), together.

Berry, who capped last year’s Oscar win with a winning performance as agent Jinx in the 007 movie “Die Another Day,” was last seen in theaters as Storm in “X2.” She is currently filming “Catwoman,” a screen spinoff of “Batman.”

Tabloids have long speculated about there being instability in her relationship with Benet, who at one point was reportedly treated for a sex addiction.