The Backstreet Boys member opened up about his relationship on Cheryl Burke's 'Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans' podcast
AJ McLean is opening up about his separation from his wife.
The Backstreet Boys member, 45, appeared on the iHeartMedia podcast Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans, hosted by Dancing with the Stars’ Cheryl Burke, on Tuesday. On the podcast, the singer spoke candidly about his sober journey and how he and his wife Rochelle DeAnna McLean are working on their marriage and individual selves, amid their separation.
“We still live separately, but we are in couple’s therapy, we are in individual therapy,” McLean told Burke, 39, when she asked about the status of his marriage, as the couple announced their separation earlier this year.
The performer did reveal, though, that he and Rochelle, 42, have seen immense growth in their relationship. “We talk every day, we are spending more time together. We just have to rebuild something that was never there from the beginning,” he shared.
The former Dancing with the Stars contestant also opened up about the perspective he’s gained on his history with his wife — whom he met in 2008 when she was a makeup artist and hairstylist in Los Angeles and went on to date a year later before eventually tying the knot in 2011. “I came with baggage, she came with baggage, she had trauma, I had trauma. I wasn’t sober or ready to get sober. She was dealing with her own s---,” the star explained. “It was just a constant push-pull: She would sweep her feelings under the rug or I would dive into a bottle.”
McLean explained that he’s applied a great deal of what he learned in an intensive outpatient program for mental health in Arizona to how he and his wife — with whom he shares daughters Lyric, 6, and Elliott, 10 — communicate. Now, he said he’s better focused on listening and having empathy. “Normally I would twist it and make it about me. Not anymore,” he said. “By us kind of approaching things that way, it’s been much, much healthier.”
He added, “It’s taken this time apart for us to really do some serious growing and understanding and listening.”
The couple announced their “temporary” separation after 11 years of marriage together in March. At the time, they shared a joint statement: "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."
The statement continued: "Separation is hard enough without the commentary, please be kind and remember there are children involved."
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The Backstreet Boys singer, who has been open about struggling with addiction for 20 years, recently spoke to PEOPLE about how he’s celebrating being two years sober and why it’s important to him to continue working on himself.
“I’m trying to keep my feet firmly planted in the program,” McLean, who now hosts 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous meetings out of his home, shared. “I’ve battled self-esteem issues my entire life, and I’ve learned a lot. My sobriety is the most solid it’s ever been."
The hitmaker added, "I'm in the best shape of my life, both mentally, physically, spiritually. I'm actually really happy and I love it, and I don't want to lose it. I want to continue to keep growing, growing with my wife and my kids and myself."
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