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    Nick Speaks Out

    If you want to know the real reason Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson called it quits, well, don't ask him.

    The former Newlywed is speaking out for the first time since splitting with Simpson last year, dishing to Rolling Stone on his divorce, rumors of infidelity and even his former father-in-law.

    "I'll tell you how I knew my marriage was over," he said. "I was told.

    "I never wanted to be a divorcé. I wanted us to be happy. I guess we differed on strategy."

    Lachey, 32, told the magazine there was not one single event that led to the split, just months of "tension" that led up to Simpson's blind-siding request for the big D. Not helping matters was the pressure-cooker of their MTV hit.

    "When you are on a reality show, your life ceases to be reality," he said. "It becomes TV.

    "Jessica and I began playing these parts even when we were by ourselves. It became a really blurred line. There was a question about what truly was our reality.

    "During those last months, we weren't fighting. It was just an overall state of tension. It was suffocating. And it just got worse and worse."

    As for all those rumors of Simpson's extramarital hookups--Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera and Adam Levine were among his wife's purported paramours--Lachey said those too played a factor in the disintegration of their marriage, despite the fact that they were never confirmed or denied.

    "We chose as a couple to ignore it," he told the magazine. "On both sides. I chose to trust. No discussion about it.

    "I don't know if there were other men. But if she did cheat, it was the result of something bigger, not the reason we didn't work.

    Not that Lachey wouldn't welcome a definitive answer on the topic.

    "Sometimes I think it would be easier if I had just walked in the house and found her in bed with a guy. That would be clear-cut. End of story. I wouldn't have to deal with the uncertainty of adultery."

    As for his own recent string of supposed hookups, Lachey said the tabloid conjecture was "wildly off base."

    "There is a constant need to link me with somebody," he said.

    The former boy bander also tried to set the record straight on Joe Simpson, the polarizing manager-father of the Simpson sisters, who Lachey said made no attempt to hide his displeasure at the union.

    "I think he felt she was too young," he said. "The Simpson family are a tight-knit group. I knew going in they would be there. I'm not sure I knew how extensive it was going to be.

    "I don't pretend to understand Joe. I don't know if he ever liked me. To this day I couldn't say. It was painful. Do I think Joe drove a rift between us? No. Was he an influence in our marriage? Absolutely."

    As for the rumors that the whole split was orchestrated by Simpson's father, Lachey said he couldn't "speculate about what he did or why he did it or for what purpose. It would be easy for me to blame my divorce on him. That would be convenient. But at the end of the day, Jessica is a grown woman, and she made her own decision."

    Still, Lachey said he and Simpson still speak on the phone every couple of days, despite the conversations being a "little awkward."

    "I'd marry her all over again," he told Rolling Stone. "Because I still love her. It would be a lot easier to walk away if I didn't."

    Simpson, too, seems to be having a little trouble letting go.

    The ex-Mrs. Lachey has taken to pulling a Carrie Bradshaw, appearing in public wearing her wedding ring, though this time on a gold chain around her neck.

    "You can still move on and have the memories," an unnamed friend of the Dukes of Hazzard star told People. "Nick will always be an important part of her life."

    Lachey's second solo album, What's Left of Me, hits stores May 9. The run-up to the release will be documented on MTV.

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