AJ McLean and estranged wife Rochelle McLean are still close and working on their relationship despite separating earlier this year.
“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, 45, said of his relationship with Rochelle, 42, on the Tuesday, November 7, episode of Cheryl Burke’s “Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans” podcast. “We just have to rebuild something that was never there from the beginning.”
The Backstreet Boys member acknowledged that both he and Rochelle — who wed in 2011 — had their own respective issues at the beginning of their relationship. While AJ didn’t comment on his partner’s struggles, he noted that his battle with substance abuse affected him greatly. (The singer recently celebrated being two years sober.)
“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,” AJ explained. “It was just a constant push-pull. 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.”
Amid his healing journey with Rochelle, AJ shared that he has also improved his communication with the duo’s daughters, Elliot, 10, and Lyric, 6. AJ credits his family’s tight-knit bond to the acronym “luver” which stands for listen, understand, vulnerable, 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 shared. “Luver is a great way to communicate not only with your partner, but just people in general. Have empathy, listen to them, [and] validate their feelings because they are their feelings.”
In March 2023, AJ and Rochelle announced that they decided to briefly separate with the hopes of saving their relationship.
“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 couple told Us Weekly in a joint statement at the time. “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.”