Despite rumors of a split, the Bachelor star and fiancée Emily "are madly in love"

By Monica Rizzo and Marla Lehner
March 15, 2011 12:45 PM
Credit: Mark Wessels/ABC

Love isn’t easy – especially on reality TV.

Brad Womack proposed to single mom Emily Maynard on Monday’s season finale of The Bachelor, but the couple admit it’s been a rough road.

“At long last, Emily and I can be open to the world and each other about our relationship,” Womack, 38, and Maynard, 25, tell PEOPLE in a joint statement Tuesday. “Though we are madly in love, it has been a bumpy couple of months for us and our priority right now is to focus on our relationship.”

Rumors have circulated that the pair have already broken up, but they remain engaged.

“We hope that you can respect our privacy as we return to normalcy and begin our off-screen lives together,” they add in the statement.

The Bachelor host, Chris Harrison, who has been in touch with the couple recently echoed the sentiment during an interview on Ryan Seacrest‘s radio show Tuesday. “It’s been extremely hard,” he said. “They’ve had some knock down, drag out fights.”

But now, “they are doing as good as they ever have,” insists Harrison. “They are extremely happy. The good thing is they are really trying to make it work.”