Rachael Ray

COVER STORY: Rachael Ray's Recipe for Marriage

05/02/2007 at 02:40 PM EDT

COVER STORY: Rachael Ray's Recipe for Marriage

Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray

With four hit Food Network shows, 12 million copies of her bestselling cookbooks in print, a self-titled magazine and her own brand of olive oil – not to mention her Daytime Emmy-nominated daily talk show – how does Rachael Ray have time for her marriage to entertainment lawyer John Cusimano?

"I can't give a man an enormous amount of attention," Ray, 38, tells PEOPLE matter-of-factly in this week's cover story. "And John is totally down with that. When men I have dated over the years whined about, 'Oh, you make no time for me' – see ya! I just dumped them. I don't need that pressure in my life."

Cusimano, 39, whom Ray met at a party in 2001 and wed in Tuscany in 2005, "was a big surprise to me," she says. "He came at a point in my life when I had decided, I'm not going to chase [marriage]. I don't think young men or women should feel pressured into marriage. You shouldn't marry anyone, in my opinion, who you have to try hard for."

She is equally frank about her views on having kids – something she says she has pretty much ruled out.

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"I don't have time," she says. "I work too much to be an appropriate parent. I feel like a bad mom to my dog [Isaboo, a pit bull] some days because I'm just not here enough. I just feel like I would do a bad job if I took the time to literally give birth to a kid right now and try and juggle everything I'm doing."

In recent months, Ray has largely remained quiet in the face of rumors about everything from marriage trouble to tensions with mentor Oprah Winfrey to plastic surgery – all of which she now shrugs off with her signature plain-spoken humor.

How about the tabloid claim that Cusimano had cheated with two women during their marriage?

"I think they said six actually," she says. "I've known where he is every night since we've been married." According to Cusimano – who moonlights as lead singer in the rock band the Cringe, currently touring to support a new CD – "It's fun to come home after a hard day's work and just cook dinner. The place I'm happiest is curled up in bed with Rachael and the puppy."

His wife agrees. "We're very turtlelike," she says. "We listen to music, pour a glass of wine and watch Law & Order."

For more on Rachael Ray, including her response to those rumors that she had a brow lift and mocked Oprah, pick up this week's PEOPLE, on sale Friday.

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