News of LeAnn Rimes' separation from Dean Sheremet saddened friends who had admired their marriage and what they did for each other over seven years.
Alas, her affair with Eddie Cibrian - whose wife, Brandi Glanville, left him as a result - appears to have taken an irreparable toll on Rimes and Sheremet.
In Nashville, those who knew the couple recall how they never seemed to be apart. Says one friend, "[LeAnn and Dean] were pretty much inseparable here."
The spouses were often spotted together at the gym, dining on the town with friends, dancing at nightclubs and even shopping for LeAnn Rimes' wardrobe.
Dean Sheremet, in fact, is credited with helping his wife – who was 19 when they married – make the transformation from a country girl into a sexy siren.
"When she met Dean, the whole image of who LeAnn Rimes was completely morphed into 'fabulousity,'" says a friend in the music industry.
Sheremet, 28, who choreographed the singer's Chicago-inspired video for "Nothin' Better to Do" in 2007, "saw the potential that was not being tapped."
LeAnn Rimes and Dean Sheremet earlier this year. [Photo: Fame Pictures]
But sources say it may have been inevitable that they grew apart as they got older. "I don't think it's unusual considering how young they were [when they wed], and the business they're in," says a member of their social circle.
As LeAnn Rimes expanded her career into acting, she spent more time in Los Angeles, while Dean Sheremet, a songwriter, stayed home in Nashville.
Rimes and Sheremet's strong friendship, however, is making it difficult for them to officially split, even as she is spending time with Eddie Cibrian.
It's unclear when – or if – they might seek a divorce "There's still a lot of love and respect between the two of them," says a source close to Sheremet.