In her revealing upcoming memoir, Open Book, excerpted in this week’s PEOPLE, Jessica Simpson writes about falling in love with former football player Eric Johnson, the man she married and the father of their three kids: daughter Maxwell, 7, son Ace, 6, and baby girl Birdie, 10 months.
They met in 2010 when a mutual friend invited Johnson to a party at her house. The spark was instant. “We connected on all levels,” Simpson says.
And, as she writes, “We both were ready for the real deal.”
The couple married in 2014 and when Simpson made the decision to give up alcohol in November 2017, Johnson did the same.
“Eric gave up drinking the second I did,” she says. “He said, ‘I’ll do it with you, babe.’ It was like no biggie and he hasn’t gone back or looked back.”
“It’s just the way he is,” she says. “He’s a very selfless and loving person who is the most incredible father on the planet.”
The book, which comes out on Feb. 4, along with her audiobook, tells more of their love story.
In one of the closing chapters, Simpson recounts a sweet moment at a concert in August 2018 when she performed with her good friend, Willie Nelson, at his Orange County Fair show at the Pacific Amphitheater in Southern California. It was the first time her children, Maxwell and Ace, had ever seen her perform.
At the time, she was nine months sober, and she writes, “I was so grateful to be in that moment.”
After the concert, she writes, “Eric hugged me, placing his hand on my stomach… We had a secret, one that had come as a happy surprise to us. We were about to be a family of five.”
That would come with the birth of their youngest, Birdie, last April.
Looking back at the emotional journey which allowed her to reclaim her life, Simpson says, “Getting to the other side of fear is beautiful. In many ways, it’s peaceful because when we know we can walk through things, and come out on the other side and be better because of it, there’s just no better gift.”
For more from Jessica Simpson and an exclusive excerpt from Open Book, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.