Pete Wentz Talks Divorce From Ashlee Simpson Ross and Reveals Why He Hasn't Proposed to Meagan Camper Yet

"We were both very young," he tells Howard Stern

By Zach Johnson Jan 23, 2015 2:26 PMTags
Pete Wentz, Ashlee Simpson Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It's been nearly four years since Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson Ross decided to end their marriage, and now, the Fall Out Boy bassist is ready to reveal why they weren't meant to be after all. Wentz, 35, spoke candidly about the demise of their relationship on Howard Stern's Sirius XM radio show Tuesday.

"Did you think you would be married forever or did you know it was going south?" Stern asked.

"I thought it was forever," the rocker replied. "My parents have been married, I think, 35 years. I don't really know. Forty years, this year, maybe? But no, I didn't. At the same time, we were both very young."

In 2010, Fall Out Boy went on hiatus—and it took a toll on Wentz's marriage. "Here's what it really was: At 31, we'd had all these great years as a band, and then we took time off, and I basically became Mr. Mom," he said, referring to son Bronx Wentz, 6. "I had the beard, the flannel shirt. I didn't know what my identity was. That factored in. When your identity is what you do, it's hard when you stop doing it."

Wentz grew a beard just to see if he could, but he kept it longer than he expected. "It was the first time where I was like, 'Well, no one's really taking my picture. I'm just basically hanging out with my kid all day. Who cares?' I think when you stop caring about your personal appearance, your personal hygiene, it makes you even more depressed, but it makes you do it more," he explained. "It's like a vicious cycle."

"Were you afraid you were losing your mind or something?" Stern asked.

"I think so," Wentz admitted. The "Uma Thurman" lyricist then offered an example, saying, "I went and I hosted some Jingle Ball thing, and I was really upset with being there. I wanted to be performing but I wasn't performing. I drank a bunch of beers and that night I banged my head and I ended up needing to get stitches. All this stuff that was not like myself at all was part of this cycle of being bummed out."

Is Wentz resentful that his ex-wife wasn't more sympathetic at the time? "I think it was a combination of all these factors at once, including being too young," the rock star said. "I think there's an important thing where you know how to fight, because you can fight with somebody and it's not the end of everything. But if you don't know how to have those arguments, then they become nuclear. And we were doing this all in the public eye, which as you know, it doesn't help, because you have people scrutinizing everything you do: 'He cut his hair—it's breakup hair!' It's like, 'What?! It's a haircut.'"

Per usual, Stern didn't shy away from delving into the tough questions, and Wentz answered them all willingly. "Don't you feel betrayed when your wife breaks up with you at your low point?" Stern asked.

"I would be an idiot to think that I didn't contribute to the unraveling of it. Of course, at first [I felt that way]. I'm like, 'This sucks! You bailed on me!' That kind of stuff. But you get perspective," the "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark" lyricist said. "We have a kid together. Our kid is awesome. He's great."

Wentz and Simpson Ross have a 50/50 custody agreement.

"It's different because of our lifestyle," Wentz explained. "If I'm gone, sometimes he'll come out on the road with us. He really likes coming on tour. Or, sometimes he stays there. We work it out. We've actually figured out how to parent that way in a really good, healthy way. And, we can be friends."

Does Wentz regret anything about how his marriage ended? "Divorce attorneys make a lot of money. They send a lot of e-mails, they fax things, get on a phone have a meeting," he said, adding a warning, "People who are going to get divorced: Work it out between you two and don't get lawyers involved."

In the end, Wentz and Simpson Ross worked it out on their own. "We were like, 'This is insane!'" the rock star recalled. "They pit you against each other and they're digging up every little piece of dirt."

"People are so emotional at the time. You sort of have to jump into it and do it that way. But in reality, that's the way to do it, because years from now, when you're both going to be moved on and you're going to be in an all right place in your life, you're going to wish you hadn't spent millions of dollars."

"Had you made enough money at that point that you could've retired?" Stern asked.

"I would've had to adjust my lifestyle, but yeah," Wentz replied.

Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

The exes often made headlines, but Wentz's tabloid coverage lessened when he began dating model Meagan Camper in 2011. "It's not helpful for a healthy relationship," he said of the media attention.

How does Camper differ from Simpson Ross?

"She is a person that puts up with my madness," Wentz said of Camper, who gave birth to son Saint Laszlo Wentz in August 2014. "I think I'm pretty difficult. On a scale of 0 to Larry David, I would put myself at a 9." What made Wentz say that? "I have ADD," the bassist said. "I can't figure out what I want to do. I'm driving and all of a sudden I want to write. I'm writing and all of a sudden I want to drive."

Since he began dating Camper, Wentz told Stern , "I've learned that you need to make time to be present for people, and that was something that I learned and only kind of came with age. And I've matured. I think it really came with having a kid. Like, kids don't care if you've got an e-mail to send."

"Why not marry your girlfriend?" Stern prodded.

"In our mind, we're thinking, 'Let's do this the right way,'" Wentz replied.

"'Let's have a baby first!'" Stern joked.

"To me, the right way is when we have time to plan it. I didn't really want to do it in the public eye this time. I didn't really want to do it in magazines," he shared. "We're just doing it on our own a little bit."

So, what will it take for Wentz to pop the question?

"I think that understanding that commitment can be…when you're really committed to somebody, you know that you're going to be with them, whether a ring changes that or not," Wentz continued. "I think it's important to the kids. I do still believe in marriage. My parents are married. My sister is married."

"I'm a man in love!" he added. "Not jumping on the couch, but..."

Wentz admitted was nervous when he met Camper at a friend's concert years ago—and not just because he thought the model was "too hot" for him. And though Camper wasn't the first person he dated after Simpson Ross, she was the first girlfriend to meet his son Bronx. "If you introduce someone to a kid, you really have to be careful about if that person's going to be in your life a long time," Wentz told Stern. "For me, it's important because you don't want the kid asking about them and they don't understand. They didn't even get introduced for a while, and when they did, it was as dad's friend."