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LeAnn Rimes, Dean Sheremet

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Dean Sheremet is finally telling his side of the story.

From 2002 to 2009, the dancer turned chef was married to two-time Grammy Award winner and country singer LeAnn Rimes. The final straw, of course, came when Sheremet learned that Rimes had been cheating on him with now-husband Eddie Cibrian on the set of the Lifetime movie Northern Lights. At the time, Cibrian was married to future Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reality star Brandi Glanville.

In his first extensive interview, Sheremet, 34, describes the demise of his first marriage and reveals how it was already falling apart long before Cibrian entered the picture. Sheremet was 20 and Rimes was 18 when they got married, and according to him, the singer's needs often came first. "I was a professional dancer. She was a superstar. I knew that one of us had to sacrifice something to have a healthy marriage. And that was my goal. As much as I wanted to be successful, I wanted a family more," he tells Nat's Next Adventure. "I've always wanted to be married and have kids. Family is everything to me."

"It would have been unfair for where she was in her career for me to ask her to pump the breaks. I thought it would be better for me to take all of my creative energy and ideas and put it into her."

Over time, while they were on tour, Sheremet began to slowly resent his then-wife.

"I have my own dreams and goals and I felt like there wasn't room for me. But it was the only way I felt I could have a successful marriage. How could she be on the road and I be in L.A. eight months out of the year and still consider ourselves a healthy marriage? Unfortunately, I swung the pendulum completely back the other way and we went eight years without spending one day apart. And it worked!" he recalls.

"As it went on, there were a lot of animosities that built up. I felt like I was never having my needs met so there was fighting. And I was so intertwined in managing her career that I didn't know how to make the distinction between husband and boss, husband and partner, husband and manager...I was husband, father, friend, lover, manager. There were so many hats and I didn't know what hat to wear when." But, in the "Blue" singer's defense, Sheremet confesses, "I was probably getting on her nerves all the time."

LeAnn Rimes, Eddie Cibrian

Dan Power/Lifetime Networks

So, what went wrong?

"Unfortunately, I think the business ended up destroying us. That passion for our marriage wasn't there. The person that I needed to be, the person I should have been, I wasn't. I wasn't the person she came home to and unloaded on. And, then, of course, I was thinking, I haven't done what I've wanted to do in over eight years," Sheremet says. "I came to the realization that my name was never going to be on the marquee. No matter how much I put into this show or that tour, it was never going to be about me."

According to Sheremet, "That was a really big moment. It was a hard thing to take."

When times were good, Sheremet and Rimes often wrote lyrics together, like for the song "Nothing Better to Do." In Sheremet's mind, he argues, "The dumbest thing she ever did for her career was divorce me, because we were such a good team. The last hit song she had was when she was with me."

Complicating matters? Sheremet hated living in L.A. "It was a very different life. We were living in Bel Air at 20 years old with a giant mansion, Porsche, Range Rover and Ferrari. I never felt comfortable with it. I'm not the type to throw money around," he says. "I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop."

"We would go shopping and not even look at the amount. It's just a weird life," Sheremet recalls. Rimes was the breadwinner, and Sheremet gives her credit for not lording it over him, saying, "There was never talk of money or me not pulling my weight. I think she felt like we were a great team. It always felt equal." By the time they got divorced, though, that changed. "I found out how unequal it was," he says.

Money matters aside, the couple was about to face an even bigger issue.

Sheremet is still bitter about Northern Lights. "It's funny, I don't remember seeing that on my SAG screeners that year," he jokes. " The funny thing is I'm the one who pushed her to do that movie."

"LeAnn has always had her heart set on acting. But you need to put the work in. I think she's been so used to everything coming so easy to her that she just assumed, 'I'll act.' So I was like, 'This is a soft way to get yourself on a set, have lines, go through the motions.' I saw her being ambivalent and was like, 'That's not gonna get you where you need to be. Do this movie. It's gonna be great for you!'" he recalls.

And, according to Sheremet, "It was great for her!"

Regarding her affair with Cibrian, he says, "Never in a million years did I think something like that would have happened. The need for me in her life was so strong. There were things she couldn't do without me. She had her own phone but never used it. People would call me to get to her. Everything went through me." When Sheremet first met Cibrian, he noticed that the actor was "a good-looking guy," but didn't feel threatened. "I just remember being like, 'Oh, God, just another one of those Hollywood pretty boys.' If you're in a room with him, he's probably one of the most charming people you'll ever meet."

Even then, Sheremet says, "I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw this f--king table."

Sheremet calls Cibrian "a total schmoozer" and "very Hollywood," adding, "I never bought his shtick."

During filming, Sheremet got sick and had to leave Canada and to seek treatment in the U.S. for a week. When he returned to set, he remembers, "There was this bar that everyone hung out at after set and I remember coming down the stairs and seeing the two of them shooting pool together. I could just tell by the body language that everything had changed. She's shooting pool, shooting tequila, in a tight tank, tight jeans, over the knee boots and she's standing across from him, playing with the pool cue." Recalls Sheremet, "All of a sudden, there was a huge shift. My stomach dropped. I literally felt like I got hit."

Until that moment, Sheremet had no indication that Rimes was seeing Cibrian behind his back.

"She's really great about putting on appearances," he alleges, "so I never felt threatened."

From then on, Sheremet says Rimes made him feel "pushed out," so he left set. "I totally felt foolish. I felt like this pathetic husband hanging around. I was very aware of how others were looking at me."

LeAnn Rimes, Eddie Cibrian

The Friend Movement

The irony, Sheremet says, is that they'd "just celebrated our seven-year itch party. The long-running line was, 'This wasn't us,'" he explains. "And then it f--king became us!" Sheremet adds, "Even though there was tension, we were still talking about the next chapter, about starting a family. I remember feeling earlier on like, 'I can't wait till 30. We'll have a kid, slow down a bit.' Cut to it being a f--king disaster."

Had Rimes not starred in Northern Lights, might their marriage have been saved?

"Who's to know? I was talking to someone the other day about our first Nashville house, which was a happy place for me, I had some of the best times of my life there and I've said multiple times, 'If we never would've left there…' But who's to know? Who's to say I wouldn't have left her? Who's to say I wouldn't have cheated on her? I was on the verge of outgrowing that situation. If the animosities kept building…You get into a vulnerable situation and you make stupid mistakes. I can't say it wouldn't have been me. I don't regret anything. All of it has made me a better human," Sheremet explains. "I joke that everyone should have their starter marriage. But, really, you shouldn't get married till you're 30."

In hindsight, Sheremet tells Nat's Next Adventure, "The cheating wasn't the hardest part."

"The hardest part was someone standing in the back of the bus in the middle of nowhere and saying, 'I don't love you anymore,'" the NYC-based chef adds. "I would've rather she said, 'I slept with 20 guys.'"

After the bar incident, Sheremet returned to Michigan, his home state, for three months.

"LeAnn would be coming in and out. And she'd want to stay together and then she wouldn't. She didn't know what she wanted. At first, I really played the back and forth. I was confused! If you had asked me years ago, 'If someone cheated on you, would you stay?' I'd say, 'F--k her. On to the next!'" he says. "But I developed a whole new capacity for what I thought love was. I learned so much more acceptance."

Unfortunately, he says, "When I was in front of her, I had no power."

"It's funny. Even when I said, 'I'm done!' I'm not sure if I put that card on the table just to see if I would be able to win that hand. Like, 'Oh, yeah, if I walk out the door, she's definitely going to stay!' What a stupid mentality. Now I look at it like, I didn't ask her to be my hostage, I asked her to be my wife! If you don't want to stay, I can't make you stay. I wasn't seeing rationally or clearly at all. I wasn't sleeping. I was in therapy. I didn't know what end was up. It was really, really hard. Especially as a man, you're supposed to be 'the strong one' and I wasn't able to be, I didn't have the faculties to be strong. That pissed me off even more. As I realized I was losing control of myself, I just had to get out of there."

Sheremet did "get out of there," and in 2011, he married photographer Sarah Silver.

What does Sheremet think of Rimes post-divorce?

"She really lives on the adoration of others. I could be speaking out of turn but this is my perspective. She lives and dies on the perception of herself. I sympathize with that cause she's been famous since she was 12 years old, so she doesn't know anything else. In L.A., there's the paparazzi and that false sense of success, false security that you're still relevant. If you're in the magazines, then you matter. And that carried over to the divorce. She became even more 'famous.' But she was in the middle of the road in country and she should've been owning that format. She's one of the most talented people I've ever met, has the most incredible voice, she's flawless. But she got away from doing that and it breaks my heart. She's gone away from what she was put on this earth to do. It's all been at the expense of that," he says. "I think she learned a really hard lesson because it didn't pan out the way she wanted it to."

To read Sheremet's full interview with Nat's Next Adventure, click here.