Only in the new issue of ‘Closer Weekly’, ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ star John Schneider opens up exclusively for the first time since his divorce from his wife of 21 years, Elly.

“At first, it knocked the wind out of me, but it was something I knew was coming. I just did not know when,” John confides to ‘Closer’ in an exclusive interview, adding that he understands why Elly became dissatisfied with his long absences. “I would be hard to be married to,” he admits.

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John and Elly in March 2014.

For the past three years, the pair have been living apart: Elly maintains the family home in California, while John put down roots in Louisiana, where his independent film production house, John Schneider Studios, is located. “We had grown on our individual paths, but since we were leading such separate lives, we figured we would just go ahead and end the marriage,” says Elly, who filed in November, citing “irreconcilable differences.”

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Since their official breakup, John and Elly, who raised three children together, have been working toward providing a perfect model of an amicable divorce. “Elly and I want to prove that you can be great divorced parents,” John explains exclusively to ‘Closer.’

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John (right) with his ‘Dukes’ costar Tom Wopat in 1980.

“This Christmas was great. It was a great opportunity for the kids to see Elly and me laughing and enjoying each other’s company again,” John explains. “Our friendship has gotten better. Our conversations are friendly again, and we are laughing. I am glad that we are doing this. It is the right thing for us to do, without question.”

For the full interview with John, pick up the new issue of ‘Closer Weekly,’ on newsstands now!