AJ McLean and his wife, Rochelle, are working on their relationship. Nearly eight months after the couple announced that they had “mutually decided to separate temporarily to work on ourselves, and on our marriage with the hope of building a stronger future,” the 45-year-old Backstreet Boys singer revealed where he and his wife stand today.
“We still live separately, but we are in couples therapy. We are in individual therapy. We talk every day. We are spending more time together,” AJ, who married Rochelle in 2011, said on the Sex, Lies, and Spray Tanspodcast. “We just have to rebuild something that was never there from the beginning.”
AJ continued by explaining how one of his friends made sense of the separation, revealing the pal said, “You guys were ball gagged, handcuffed, ankle cuffed, thrown in the water and said, ‘Be in a relationship.'”
“It’s impossible,” AJ admitted. “I came with baggage, she came with baggage. She had trauma, I had trauma. I wasn’t sober or even ready to get sober, she was dealing with her own s**t.”
“It was just a constant push-pull,” he continued. “She would sweep her feelings under the rug, I would do the same thing or I’d dive into a bottle. Now, it’s taken this time apart for us to really do some serious growing and understanding and listening.”
While on that journey, AJ, who shares Ava, 10, and Lyric, 6, with Rochelle, said he’s learned to live by the word “luver,” which stands for listen, understand, be vulnerable, have empathy, and reiterate.
“If you and I are having a conversation and you’re telling me your feelings, I’m validating your feelings, I’m hearing your feelings and I have empathy, because normally I would twist it and make it about me. Not anymore,” he said. “Luver is a great way to communicate not only with your partner, but just people in general. Have empathy, listen to them, validate their feelings because they are their feelings. It doesn’t matter if you agree with it, but it’s their feelings. They own that.”
AJ noted, “By us kind of approaching things now that way, it’s been much, much healthier.”
Back in March, in a statement to ET, AJ’s rep said, “Marriage is hard, but worth it. We have mutually decided to separate temporarily to work on ourselves, and on our marriage with the hope of building a stronger future. The plan is to come back together and continue to nurture our love for one another, and our family. We ask for respect and privacy at this time. Separation is hard enough without the commentary, please be kind and remember there are children involved.”