"There's not a finer human being," the singer tells PEOPLE of ex-wife Cynthia Rhodes

By Tara Fowler
July 15, 2014 09:10 AM
Monica Schipper/Getty

Richard Marx‘s new album may be titled Beautiful Goodbye, but he swears it’s not about his breakup with longtime love, Dirty Dancing‘s Cynthia Rhodes.

“There were people who thought that, especially with the name of the album, that it was going to be a record about splitting up,” Marx tells PEOPLE. “And it’s not that at all. It’s really a celebration of romance and seduction.”

The pop singer announced his divorce from his wife of 25 years in April, but the couple had been separated since last July.

“It has been a painful time,” he said. “But I don’t necessarily want to bury myself in songs about it, frankly, out of respect. I have nothing but love and respect for my ex-wife and I don’t really want to delve into that in songwriting so much. Not to say that I never will, but I didn’t feel like that’s where I wanted to write from. I wanted to write from a more positive, inspired, hopeful place.”

The 50-year-old has built a career on love ballads such as “Right Here Waiting” and “Hold On to the Nights,” but Beautiful Goodbye has a decidedly different feel.

“I’ve got a handful of songs that get used in a lot of weddings – they’re songs about forever and eternity and until the end of time,” Marx said. “But I found these new songs to be more about sex and ‘What are you doing for the next few hours?’ as opposed to forever. That was really a fun place to write from – there’s something so mystifying about that dance that two people do, especially in the early goings of a potential relationship when you’re circling each other and figuring each other out.”

So has his ex-wife heard his new music? “I don’t know,” he confessed. “That would be the last thing in the world that would be important for us to discuss.”

Another thing he won’t talk about? The reason for his divorce.

“I wouldn’t discuss that with even some of my close friends. It’s really nobody’s business,” he said. “What I will say is that I had the great fortune and blessing to not only be married to Cynthia for all those years, but to just share her company. There’s not a finer human being. I’m very grateful that we were together, had three amazing sons and I can’t say enough about what an amazing person she is and how lucky I was to share that time with her.”

Beautiful Goodbye is out now. Check out the music video for the album’s first track, “Whatever We Started,” below.

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