11/01/2005 AT 04:00 PM EST
Gabrielle Union and her NFL star husband Chris Howard have separated after four years of marriage, the actress's publicist has announced.
"The couple remains close and asks that you respect their privacy at this difficult time," said Lisa Kussell in a statement.
Union and Howard, a former running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars, wed in 2001. The couple met at a party in 1999 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Union, 33, stars in the new ABC drama Night Stalker, and the actress's credits include Bad Boys II, Deliver Us From Eva and Bring It On. She'll also be seen with Annette Bening, Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes in the upcoming Running With Scissors.
Last June, while promoting her role in The Honeymooners, Union lightheartedly expressed some complaints about her husband, saying: "He never hangs his clothes up. I'm the kind of person whose clothes are all hung up and color-coordinated, to the point where my whites don't touch my creams. And he thinks that he can just stick things in the dishwasher – apparently the dishwasher is magic. Oh, and he leaves the toilet seat up. I guess all the things you have to get used to about living with a guy."