Nicholas Sparks Separating From Wife After 25 Years

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What does this mean for romance?

After 25 years of marriage, romance writer Nicholas Sparks -- known for his bestselling book-turned moviesThe Notebook, Message In a Bottle and Dear John -- is separating from his wife Cathy. "This is, of course, not a decision we've made lightly," Sparks, 49, tells People of him and Cathy's decision to part ways. "We remain close friends with deep respect for each other and love for our children. For our children's sake, we regard this as a private matter."

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The two were married in 1989 -- seven years before he wrote The Notebook-- and have five children together, three sons and twin daughters. Their youngest is 12 and their oldest is 23. Sparks and his wife, a former lending-company account executive, also created the Epiphany School through the Nicholas Sparks Foundation.

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While Sparks has penned 17 romantic novels, nine of which have become movies, he's never been big on offering up love advice. "I don't like to give marriage tips," he told People in 2003. "There are people who are probably much better at marriage than I am -- they've lasted a lot longer. I could probably learn from them."

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