"It's still complicated because she loves Brooks and she always will," a source told PEOPLE of Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich's marriage

By Robyn Merrett
January 09, 2020 10:04 PM

Julianne Hough was happily reunited with her husband Brooks Laich on Thursday afternoon after the actress picked the hockey star up from the airport amid split rumors.

The couple was photographed sharing an embrace at the Hollywood Burbank with Hough, 31, captured sweetly looking up at Laich, 36, as he gazed down at her.

While Laich was seen wearing his wedding band at their airport reunion, a ring was missing from Hough’s finger.

Many fans noticed Hough was also without her wedding ring as she celebrated the New Year with Carson Daly while co-hosting NBC’s New Year’s Eve. She was also ringless in a Dec. 24 Instagram video. Laich did wear his ring in a Jan. 2 workout video.

The couple’s adorable exchange on Thursday was also captured in a video by TMZ, which shows Hough excitedly hopping out of her Tesla truck to greet Laich.

The pair, who tied the knot in July 2017, held on to each other for quite some time before Laich loaded his luggage in the back of Hough’s car. They exchanged a few words before getting inside the truck. As she walked to the driver’s seat, Hough was filmed smiling widely.

The reunion comes as a source told PEOPLE that Hough “loves” Brooks, but is “a completely different person now.”

Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich
Clint Brewer/BACKGRID

“Julianne wants to become a new age, free-spirit, no boundaries guru, and she is living her life by this sort of ‘no limits, no rules’ mantra, and that doesn’t vibe with being a wife,” the source said.

“It’s still complicated because she loves Brooks and she always will — she just thinks she is a completely different person than she was when she married him,” the source continued. “She’s had a total awakening and transformation, and it’s ongoing, and she isn’t able or interested in going back to who she was.”

Reps for the couple did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Last August, Hough came out as “not straight” to Women’s Health, admitting she had worried that Laich wouldn’t understand her sexuality. However, the former Dancing with the Stars judge said the the two forged “a more intimate relationship” after their conversation.

The source told PEOPLE that the former America’s Got Talent judge “really does hope” that her NHL star husband “will remain in her life in some way.”

“He’s always been her biggest fan and has been willing to back her up in anything she wanted to do,” the source continued.

RELATED: Julianne Hough’s Husband Brooks Laich Teases a ‘New Chapter’ in 2020: ‘It Feels Right’

Hough’s relationship with Brooks, which began in 2014, “came at a time when she really had so much confusion in so many other areas of her life,” the source says.

“And suddenly here was this guy willing to be her rock, to be her support no matter what, and that was just what she needed,” the source says. “But since then, she’s started to get more clarity on other parts of her life.”

Hough first rose to fame as a professional dancer and later judge on DWTS. Since then, the Emmy winner appeared in the Grease: Live special in 2016 and served as a judge for one season of America’s Got Talent last year before her and Gabrielle Union‘s controversial exits.

Her acting credits include 2011’s remake of Footloose, the 2013 Nicholas Spark adaptation Safe Haven and a 2019 episode in Netflix’s Dolly Parton anthology, Heartstrings.

She’s embracing the lifestyle side of her brand. Last weekend, Hough joined Oprah Winfrey in Fort Lauderdale to kick off her nationwide wellness tour, Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour presented by WW. Hough will be teaching a dance workout at every show.

Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich
Ali Buck

The source added that there are “real and deep changes” to Hough’s psyche, but that she is embracing them and “has no interest in going backwards.”

“Brooks can only change but so much to try to keep her,” the source said. “She’s spreading her wings now and no one, not Brooks or anyone, can really tie her down at this point.”

Hough and Laich tied the knot in July 2017 in an outdoor ceremony outside of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The pair announced their engagement in August 2015 following a year and a half of dating.