Hoda Kotb and Joel Schiffman Break Up After 8 Years Together

Hoda Kotb and Joel Schiffman, who got engaged in 2019 and share two daughters, are going their separate ways, she announced Monday on the Today show

Hoda Kotb and her longtime beau Joel Schiffman have called it quits.

The former couple — who share daughters Hope, 2, and Haley, 4, and have been together since 2013 — are going their separate ways, after getting engaged in November 2019.

Kotb, 57, announced the news on Monday during TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, noting that some viewers had asked why she hadn't been wearing her engagement ring.

"Joel and I have had a lot of prayerful and meaningful conversations over the holidays and we decided that we're better as friends and parents than we are as an engaged couple, so we decided we are going to start this new year ... on our new path as loving parents to our adorable, delightful children, and as friends," said Kotb.

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"It's not like something happened. They say sometimes relationships are meant to be there for a reason, or a season or for a lifetime. And I feel like ours was meant to be there for a season," she added in her conversation with co-host Jenna Bush Hager.

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Admitting that talking about it felt "weird and awkward," Kotb said she was "struggling with ... 'What do I say? How do I say it?' "

But during the conversation, the longtime television journalist focused on the "joyous moments" of her relationship with Schiffman, 63.

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Joel Schiffman and Hoda Kotb. Hoda Kotbe/Instagram

"A lot of women know what this feels like ... to be changing course in life, and I feel really brave in this moment, which is a strange feeling to feel," she said. "But sometimes in your life, you just have to say the truth."

"You can carry it and you can pretend. ... You ask yourself, 'Am I just being optimistic?' " Kotb added. "And sometimes you realize optimism is like trying to put a circle in a square — sometimes it just doesn't work, and it's okay. To be able to acknowledge it …. I feel better that I said it."

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Bush Hager, 40, told her co-host that she "can't think of anybody stronger" or more "courageous," than Kotb, "to tell the truth" about what is going on.

"There's nothing that relieves your soul more, I think, than when you tell the truth," Kotb replied.

"You always say it's how we begin something and how we end it," Bush Hager said.

Of Schiffman, Kotb said, "He's a great guy. He's a very kind and loving person, and I feel privileged to have spent eight years with him. We are both good and we are both kind of going on our way and our path. We'll be good parents to those two lovely kids."

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Kotb and Schiffman, a financier, began dating quietly for a couple of years before going public in 2015.

The couple announced their engagement in November 2019, when Schiffman popped the question while they were enjoying an intimate dinner by the beach.

The two originally planned to get married in November 2020, but Kotb said last summer on the Today show that she and Schiffman were "just trying to make sure that everyone can travel" to their wedding, considering the COVID-19 pandemic had made it difficult.

"We want to do it in a place that we love deep in our soul that means a lot to us, and we want our closest to come," Kotb explained. "But Joel kept saying, 'Why are we waiting? Let's just go already.' "

In October, Kotb opened up about parenthood with Schiffman on the first-ever episode of PEOPLE's podcast Me Becoming Mom, where she discussed her journey to adopting Haley and Hope and how her then-fiancé offered early support in the process.

"I was terrified," Kotb recalled of bringing up the topic of adoption to Schiffman for the first time. " 'How am I going to say this?' I don't know his reaction. I think what I was probably the most scared of was that I knew I was going to do it anyway."

"I looked him in the eye and I said, 'I would like to explore adoption with you.' And there was like a second in there, I was like, 'This is the end of a relationship or the beginning of a family.' This is happening in a snap, in an instant," she added.

Upon realizing how supportive he was of the idea, "I knew in that moment I chose right because it was the thing that would make me the happiest on earth ... He made all the decisions so easy and clear," Kotb said. "I said, 'I chose right. I chose a man who chose my happiness over his convenience maybe in that moment.' "

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