Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich Split: All the Signs of Trouble, How They Tried to Make It Work

Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich confirmed their split in an exclusive joint statement to PEOPLE on May 29

Julianne Hough, Brooks Laich
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty; Brooks Laich/Instagram

Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich announced their split on Friday after nearly three years of marriage.

In an exclusive joint statement to PEOPLE, the Kinrgy founder, 31, and the former hockey player, 36, said: "We have lovingly and carefully taken the time we have needed to arrive at our decision to separate. 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."

Back in November 2013, Hough and her family attended a six-day seminar that led the former Dancing with the Stars pro and judge to meeting Laich. By February 2014, Laich confirmed they were dating and had embarked on a long-distance relationship due to work obligations. He proposed in August 2015 and they wed in 2017.

Their decision to separate three years later followed months of speculation that Hough and Laich had hit a rough patch..

Below were some of signs indicating the couple would be officially parting ways.

Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich
Brooks Laich and Julianne Hough. Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Relationship Revelation

In September 2019, Hough revealed that she is "not straight," telling Women's Health she was initially worried about bringing up her sexuality with Laich, but eventually found it to be a positive decision.

"I [told him], 'You know I'm not straight, right?' And he was like, 'I'm sorry what?' " she told the publication of how she told Laich. "I was like, 'I'm not. But I choose to be with you.' "

A source recently told PEOPLE that Hough is a "deeply different person than she was when they got married."

"She is proud of those differences and changes she's made and she doesn't want to go back," the source said. "He is the man he is and he shouldn't change a thing. But they shouldn't spend the rest of their lives together — not as spouses, anyway."

"They are both on the same page about that now," the source added. "It took them a while to get here, but now they both understand that and they are hoping to move forward as deeply loving friends forever who will always be supportive and encouraging of one another."

julianne hough
Vivien Killilea/Getty

Without Her Wedding Ring

Hough was spotted without her wedding ring when she hosted New Year's Eve on NBC with Carson Daly. Though Laich joined her in N.Y.C.'s Times Square, insiders told PEOPLE the two had hit a rough patch.

"They've been having problems for months," a source said at the time. "She's very independent and a free spirit, and that's been tough for Brooks and their marriage."

But a second source said Hough and Laich were not ready to part ways just yet. "It seems they are not giving up, but also not talking about it. They want to do this their way. They don't want to discuss their marriage. They have been having problems, but many people do," the insider explained. “Maybe it’s a just a phase, maybe not," the second source said.

Social Distancing Apart

According to a source, the fact that Hough and Laich were "perfectly happy and fine being apart" during the coronavirus pandemic made them realize it was time to part ways.

When the pandemic hit in March, Hough and Laich briefly spent time at her home in Los Angeles before they began social distancing separately, with him in Idaho and her staying in L.A.

"It's over, it's been over for a while, and it's time to just call it what it is — and it is over," said one source with knowledge of the situation. "There is honestly no ill will. He loves her. She loves him. I can truly say they always will. But they both understand they are not meant to go through their lives as husband and wife to each other."

A Laich insider recently confirmed the two are "separated and not together."

"They haven't seen each other for almost two months," the insider said. "It's been a sad situation, but they have both realized that their priorities are too different for their marriage to work out."

According to the insider, Laich, who has been spending time at their property in Idaho since April, is "very happy to be living away from L.A.," while Hough wants to live in the city.

"They are two people that still love each other, but have decided that it's time to move on separately," the insider said. "The split is friendly. They hope they can stay friends."

A source close to the couple added: "This wasn’t a rash decision. They tried living apart and spending time apart, and also spending more time together to see what would be best. But their romantic relationship is over now. It’s really sad because there is a lot of love and respect between Brooks and Julianne, but they are both determined to remain friends."

In April, she was seen walking with Westworld actor Ben Barnes, whom she has been friends with for years.

Julianne Hough
Julianne Hough/Instagram

Having a Future Together

Conversations, specifically different viewpoints, about starting a family were prevalent in the weeks prior to confirming their split.

On an April 29 episode of his How Men Think podcast, Laich was asked if he and Hough would consider having a baby in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, given there is "nothing else" to do.

Laich quickly shut down any thoughts of welcoming a child into the world. "That reason is so bad because who knows, it could lift in a month, it could lift in two weeks. Just because you have nothing else to do right now, that’s not a reason to bring a life into the world," he shared.

"You can still have sex without having to create a baby. Like, the world is going to come back, the economy is going to open up, travel will open up again … I don't foresee us being on lockdown for the next four years where it's like we’ve got nothing else to do, we might as well have a baby," Laich said.

Then in her June cover story for Women's Health, which was released in May, Hough, who has been candid about her experience with endometriosis, said she and Laich "never actually tried to get pregnant" and that freezing her eggs in 2018 "was more of a precautionary measure" than a response to being unable to conceive.

"Let's do our due diligence for the future by freezing eggs," she said. "I think the healthier I am from the inside out — as far as my beliefs, my energy, what I'm putting into my body — the better prepared I'll be when the time comes."

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