Gwen Jones and Chris Harrison
Sara De Boer/Startraks
05/03/2012 at 09:35 PM EDT
host Chris Harrison and his wife of 18 years, Gwen, are announcing their separation "after much heartfelt consideration," the couple tells PEOPLE exclusively.
"Though we have made this incredibly difficult decision to separate, our love and mutual respect remain, and we look forward to sharing in the lives of our wonderful children," they say in a joint statement Thursday.
The couple live 35 miles from Hollywood with their kids Joshua, 9, and Taylor, 7. Harrison, 40, coaches both kids' soccer teams, and is "an amazing father," Gwen told PEOPLE in 2010
. "He's very loving and involved."
Harrison hosts the new season
of The Bachelorette
, which premieres May 14 on ABC.