Howard Stern has opened up about the breakup of his 21-year marriage, a subject the shock jock has been extremely reluctant to publicly discuss.

"My marriage ending blew my mind," Stern said in a new Rolling Stone interview. "I was upset that I failed and let down my family, my kids, my ex-wife. It was all very painful."

He says that even now, a decade after his divorce from Alison Berns, it's still tough for him to "figure out at this point what went wrong and how things that were so good could go so bad." And he adds, "I think I'll spend the rest of my life trying to analyze that."

One result of the breakup has been a better understanding of his current marriage to former model-actress Beth Ostrosky, a Long Island animal activist. "In many ways, my marriage now is so easy," said Stern, acknowledging, "I'm also aware that I could [mess] things up very easily. I could start getting more into my work, and ignoring what's important to Beth. I'm awfully narcissistic, and I have to keep that in check. I can't be like King Tut sitting there and expect to be taken care of, because so many times we can turn our wives into mothers."

Which, he said, is what happened when he went on a dating spree after his separation. "I was using women as a surrogate mother," he said. "When I tapped into that, it suddenly became [clear that it was] very childish behavior."

Stern, who grew up in Roosevelt and Rockville Centre, also addressed the issue of his suicidal former sidekick, Artie Lange, who has been off the show since trying to kill himself early last year. "He said to me recently that he would be willing to come on the air and explain what happened and stuff. . . . I don't even feel strong enough within myself or that I'd be doing the right thing by him, because I don't want to do the wrong thing for Artie. I just want Artie to stay alive."

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