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DEC. 3/NOV. 30
Since their pre-Thanksgiving split, Jessica Simpson, 25, and Nick Lachey, 32, have gone on with their lives: Simpson appeared at VH1's Big in '05 Awards; Lachey headed to a business meeting in L.A. "She's doing okay," says a source close to Simpson, who filed for divorce on Dec. 16. "She is emotional, and as upsetting as this is, she knows she made the right decision."
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NOV. 20/NOV. 26
Lachey spent his final weekend as a married man partying with brother Drew (center) and pal A.J. DiScala at a NASCAR event in Miami Beach. Three days later, he and Simpson announced the end of their three-year union ("This is a mutual decision," they said in a statement). Simpson then headed solo to Waco, Texas, to spend Thanksgiving with family.
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With Lachey on a break from recording in Sweden, the couple caught Jarhead at a theater near their Calabasas, Calif., home. Three days earlier, they were in his Cincinnati hometown, where they celebrated his 32nd birthday with friends and family at a local rib joint. Simpson picked up the $800 tab – and left a 75 percent tip.
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OCT. 15/OCT. 26
As their Oct. 26 three-year anniversary approached, the couple were often apart: Lachey hit Las Vegas with brother Drew for the uBid for Hurricane Relief Charity Auction (Simpson "had prior commitments" in L.A., he said); Simpson spent the big day in Nairobi, Kenya, acting as a goodwill ambassador for the organization Operation Smile. "I needed to escape," she told PEOPLE.
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The fact that they planned to spend their anniversary apart sparked rumors they'd separated, but the couple showed a united front during a trip to Italy. "We decided to celebrate a little early and do the romantic Florence wine-tasting thing," Lachey told PEOPLE. "There's no shortage of romance, but it's a very, very good country for that." About his marriage, he said, "everything's perfect."
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The couple seemed to be in perfect harmony during their emotional rendition of "America the Beautiful" before a Washington Redskins-Chicago Bears game in Landover, Md. But later in the month, Simpson caused whispers when she was spotted several times without her wedding ring. "I left it on my bed stand. I'm forgetful," she told PEOPLE at a Sept. 20 event.
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With her first movie, The Dukes of Hazzard, in theaters, Simpson (in shorts and a Rachel Roy blouse), hit the MTV Video Music Awards in Miami with her husband. Later, a tabloid reported that she'd snapped at Lachey, "Are we gonna do this together?" before they walked the red carpet. Simpson's rep called the report "nonsense."
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The pair celebrated Simpson's 25th birthday, along with 150 guests, at her parents' Encino, Calif., estate. When she couldn't extinguish the trick candles on her cake, Lachey joked, "She's full of hot air, but even all of her wind couldn't blow them out." His gift to her? New rims for her Range Rover. "I've been wanting them forever!" she said.
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After a Web site posted (and then quickly removed) an erroneous story that Simpson and Lachey had split, the couple shared an affectionate moment at a Calabasas grocery store. The same day, Simpson flashed her finger outside a Hollywood recording studio (inset). "See," she told the assembled photographers, "the ring is on!"
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On a six-day USO tour, the pair performed for troops in Germany and Iraq (left). "So you're on a stable course?," one soldier asked Lachey about his marriage. Lachey's response? "We're on the stable course now." Simpson later said she felt for the troops' loved ones: "I can't imagine having to miss Nick for an entire year."
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Simpson's goofiness outside the Hollywood club Guy's capped off a lovey-dovey month: The couple shopped and dined a deux in L.A., vacationed in Palm Springs and even appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno together. Although Lachey was planning a solo reality show for MTV, he said Simpson would be involved: "She's a part of my life and everything I do."
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With Simpson back from filming The Dukes of Hazzard in Louisiana, she and Lachey snuck a smooch just before Valentine's Day. (On the day itself, he gave her a song he wrote for her new album.) Even though both were busy recording, Lachey told PEOPLE: "She is very supportive of what I'm doing, and I'm very supportive of what she's doing."
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JAN. 27/FEB. 4
While Simpson filmed Dukes in Louisiana, she and her husband found fun on their own. Jessica (left, in Clinton, La.) spent her free time shopping and partying – "She loves karaoke and she brings everyone with her," said one insider – while Lachey indulged his love of sports over Super Bowl weekend in Jacksonville, Fla. "It's kind of a guys thing," he said.
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The former Newlyweds may be ending 2005 on a sad note, but they rang it in with a bang, partying alongside Nicole Richie and DJ AM at the Miami Beach hot spot Mansion, where they kissed under a shower of midnight confetti. As Simpson's little sister Ashlee told PEOPLE at the time, "They really just love each other so much."