Reese Witherspoon & Ryan Phillippe Split

10/30/2006 at 02:55 PM EST

Reese Witherspoon & Ryan Phillippe Split
Phillippe and Witherspoon on Oct. 16, 2006.
Eric Thayer/Reuters/Landov
Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe have separated after seven years of marriage, PEOPLE has confirmed.

"We are saddened to announce that Reese and Ryan have decided to formally separate," a rep for the couple said in a statement released Monday. "They remain committed to their family and we ask that you please respect their privacy and the safety of their children at this time." TMZ.com first reported the couple's split.

Witherspoon, 30, and Phillippe, 32, have two children, daughter Ava, 7, and son Deacon, 3.

The couple met when a mutual friend brought Phillippe to Witherspoon's 21st-birthday party. Two years later, after they had costarred in 1999's Cruel Intentions, he proposed. They married in June 1999 and had Ava three months later.

Though the couple seemed to have it all – a successful relationship, thriving careers and beautiful children – they both spoke openly about having to work on their marriage.

In 2002, Phillippe told New York's Daily News that they were in couples therapy. "The biggest mistake," he said, "is not doing that, ignoring it and having the marriage fall apart because of laziness."

Similarly Witherspoon told PEOPLE at the time: "I'm not interested in the fallacy of the Hollywood relationship: 'We have perfect children who never cry; we never have problems; we never argue, we're always best friends,'" she said. "That's just not true. We're normal people with normal problems."

Witherspoon, who won an Oscar for her role in last year's hit Walk the Line, is next expected to appear in the drama Rendition. Phillippe is currently starring in the WWII drama Flags of Our Fathers.

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