"After much consideration, I have decided to end my marriage to Tom Girardi," the reality star exclusively tells E! News, "This is not a step taken lightly or easily. I have great love and respect for Tom and for our years and the lives we built together."
"It is my absolute wish to proceed through this process with respect and with the privacy that both Tom and I deserved," she adds. "I request others give us that privacy as well."
The couple married in 1999 after meeting at Chasen's in West Hollywood, where Erika, 49, was serving cocktails and Tom, 81, was a frequent patron. "After a year of working in the restaurant, one night I decided to slip Tom my telephone number," Erika wrote in her 2018 memoir, Pretty Mess. "We were standing in front of the giant fireplace. ‘Did you hear I was single?' I asked." Six months later, the two were engaged.
Throughout their relationship, Erika had been quick to shut down skeptics who questioned their 33-year age difference. "I've dealt with this forever: the younger woman that married the wealthier, older man," she said on the Bravo show. "I mean, I'm tired of having to justify my 20-year marriage. Go get a 20-year marriage, then come f--king talk to me."
Their two-decade romance was arguably unconventional, with Tom even refusing to wear a ring. "Tom said, 'Listen, I'll buy you anything you want. I don't care what it is. You name it. But I'm not wearing a wedding band. I never have, I never will. I don't like it. It's uncomfortable. Please don't ask me to,'" she wrote in her book. "A wedding band does not have magical powers. It is not going to stop anyone from doing something."
Back in 2017, fans were shocked to hear Erika tell Andy Cohen she does not have a prenup. ":et me tell you something, let me be very clear. I'm married to a very powerful lawyer," she admitted. "A prenup wouldn't stand in his way anyway...It's gonna be all Tom's way, I assure you. He'll rip that piece of paper to shreds in two seconds!"
This is her second marriage. She was previously wed to Thomas Zizzo, who she shares 26-year-old son Tommy Zizzo with.
"I feel like my marriage came apart because of me, not because of anyone else," Erika, who got pregnant at age 20, has admitted. "I can take responsibility. I knew I was a good mom. I thought I was adult enough to be a wife and a mother, but really I wasn't. Tommy bore the brunt of that. It was this constant pressure and it was hard for both of us to take."
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