11/15/2004 at 01:00 AM EST
Forget small talk: Jessica Simpson
and Nick Lachey
want to cut to the chase. Is their marriage, as various reports would have it, on shaky ground? "Absolutely not," says Simpson. "No way," says Lachey. What about persistent talk that Lachey is jealous of his wife's success? "That's such nonsense," he says. "There's no bigger supporter in Jessica's life than me. Her success is my success." But what of the sightings of Simpson minus her wedding ring? "Who wears a 3½-carat diamond ring when they go to the gym?" counters Lachey.
So they're not splitting up? "We are absolutely not breaking up," says Lachey, who's turning 31 on Nov. 9. "We have never even thought about it," adds Simpson, 24. "I guess the story this week is that Nick and I have problems that I don't even know about. I think our relationship is better than it's ever been, actually."
Amid a new round of "It's Over!" headlines—and a report that Lachey got a little too frisky with a porn star at a pal's Oct. 12 bachelor party—the couple who staked their fame on their marriage as MTV's Newlyweds now find themselves defending their union a mere two years in. "When we agreed to do the show, both of us knew our arguments would be on television," says Lachey. "Unfortunately we're in a position where people tend to read more into situations than is really there."
The situation dujour is the L.A. bachelor party Lachey attended for pal Sean Sullivan, whose Oct. 15 wedding featured Simpson as a bridesmaid and Lachey as a groomsman. The bash kicked off at the Hollywood club Nacional before the group of around 10 guys made their way to the Hollywood Hills home of record company honcho Cody Leibel. Tabloid reports have claimed that "the other Jessica"—porn star Jessica Jaymes—engaged in sex with another woman while the bachelor party looked on. "We did a really hot girl-girl show," says Jaymes, adding that Lachey is an excellent tipper: "He was throwing money around."
Simpson and Lachey declined to discuss the bachelor party incident but were more forthcoming about the occasional rough spots in their marriage. "We fight like any married couple fights," says Lachey. Adds Simpson: "You don't want to marry someone who's just like you, so there's always going to be conflicts. An argument now and then is good. It means that we're communicating."
No kids in the near future—"Daisy the dog is it for now," says Simpson—but the couple celebrated their Oct. 26 anniversary with a romantic stay at the Carneros Inn in Napa Valley, where they stomped grapes together. "It was a total Lucy and Ricky moment—both of us were standing in the barrel barefoot," says Simpson. "We had a great time. We had lots to celebrate."
Next up: Lachey's birthday, which the couple plan to mark with about 40 friends in Las Vegas. Add that to their busy work schedule: In addition to their Dec. 10 ABC holiday special, the pair are now taping the third (and, they say, final) season of Newlyweds
; at the same time, Simpson is filming her role as Daisy Duke in the Dukes of Hazzard
movie and Lachey is developing his own sitcom for FOX. "Everything is cool with us," says Lachey. "Life is great. Career is great. Things have never been better. Don't believe the crap out there. Everything is wonderful." Adds Simpson: "And we're madly in love."
Michelle Tauber. Todd Gold in Los Angeles and Kate Silver in Las Vegas