Hoda Kotb Said She and Joel Schiffman Felt Married Before Split, Called Him Her 'Lifelong Partner'

·3 min read

Before announcing her split from Joel Schiffman, Hoda Kotb referred to them as each other's "lifelong partners."

The former couple, who share daughters Hope, 2, and Haley, 4, have been together since 2013 and got engaged in November 2019. During Monday's episode of TODAY, however, Kotb announced that they are going their separate ways.

Since their engagement, Kotb, 57, and Schiffman, 63, had to postpone their wedding multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. About a month after the virus first began spreading, she told PEOPLE that they didn't know when the nuptials would eventually happen but said that they already felt married.

For more on Hoda Kotb and Joel Schiffman's split, listen below to our daily podcast on PEOPLE Every Day.

"I was saying to [Schiffman], 'I want our friends and family to be together for this moment and the kids.' I mean, how incredible would that be? But I feel like we're married. I want to do that obviously, but this whole situation has just underscored that family's family," she said in April 2020.

Hoda Kotb Instagram
Hoda Kotb Instagram

Hoda Kotb Instagram

RELATED: Hoda Kotb Shares the 'Joyful' Nighttime Ritual (Involving Lizzo!) That She Has with Her Kids

"I'm happy that we're engaged. I'm happy we're going to get married, but we've always been lifelong partners," Kotb continued at the time. "I'm so happy to say 'I do' and I'm also happy to do it whenever we need to, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a formality now."

Kotb and Schiffman, a financier, had originally planned to get married in November 2020. During TODAY with Hoda & Jenna on Monday, the TV anchor began her split announcement by noting that viewers have been asking why she hasn't been wearing her engagement ring.

"Joel and I have had a lot of prayerful and meaningful conversations over the holidays and we decided that we're better as friends and parents than we are as an engaged couple, so we decided we are going to start this new year ... on our new path as loving parents to our adorable, delightful children, and as friends," she said.

"It's not like something happened. They say sometimes relationships are meant to be there for a reason, or a season or for a lifetime. And I feel like ours was meant to be there for a season," she added in her conversation with co-host Jenna Bush Hager.

Hoda Kotb Instagram
Hoda Kotb Instagram

Hoda Kotb Instagram

RELATED GALLERY: Celebrity Couples Who Broke Up in 2022

Kotb went on to say that she wanted to focus on the "joyous moments" of her relationship with Schiffman.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"A lot of women know what this feels like ... to be changing course in life, and I feel really brave in this moment, which is a strange feeling to feel," she said. "But sometimes in your life, you just have to say the truth."

"You can carry it and you can pretend. ... You ask yourself, 'Am I just being optimistic?' " Kotb added. "And sometimes you realize optimism is like trying to put a circle in a square — sometimes it just doesn't work, and it's okay. To be able to acknowledge it …. I feel better that I said it."