Jessica Simpson Thought She Was 'Hard to Love' — Until She Met Eric Johnson Who 'Embraces' Her Career (Exclusive)

"Once I met Eric, I feel like it was more nurtured. Everything was more supported. Everything felt so easy," the star says of her husband

Jessica Simpson is loving life with husband Eric Johnson.

Speaking to PEOPLE at PetSafe's Unleashed event to celebrate International Dog Day, Simpson opened up about her love for Johnson as the pair approaches a decade of marriage. (They celebrated their nine-year anniversary in July).

"It's nuts. It's kind of crazy. I feel like Eric and I have been together so much longer," the singer, actress and designer, 43, says. "We have been together for a long time, but it feels like 20 [years]. My life before him, I had a blast. But once I met Eric, I feel like it was more nurtured. Everything was more supported. Everything felt so easy."

<p>Cindy Barrymore/Shutterstock</p> Jessica Simpson in February 2020

Cindy Barrymore/Shutterstock

Jessica Simpson in February 2020

Related: Jessica Simpson Says Her Kids Are 'Excited' About Her Return to Music: 'They're Teaching Me to Be Brave' (Exclusive)

"I don't find it hard to love anybody, but I have always thought that I was hard to love, that I was too much for people, or my schedule was too demanding," she adds. "I couldn't be a roadie all the time. I couldn't be a football wife. It was hard."

With Johnson, 43, a former NFL player, she feels secure as he "really embraces my career."

"He knows my heart and understands my heart more than anyone I've ever met in my life," she says. "I knew the instant we met that I could see my future in his eyes and with a lot of people, I hope for a future in their eyes, but with Eric, I saw it."

Simpson and Johnson share kids Birdie Mae, 4, Ace Knute, 10, and Maxwell Drew, 11. Speaking to Access at the same event, she revealed some tricks to keep sparks flying.

"It's good to keep the romance there, even with three kids on top of our head. It's hard, but he'll leave me little notes, because he'll wake up earlier than me. He'll leave me little letters," she shared.

Related: Jessica Simpson Shares Photos from Daughter Birdie's Unicorn-Themed 4th Birthday: 'Born to Shine'

"There's a lot of things that make me like, 'I can't wait to get my hands on him later.' I think you have to have those little things as a couple that are just between you two."

"And now it's like our kids are so old. It's like, wow, they're gonna walk in on hanky panky time. So like, what do we do, how do we do this? Where do we go?" she joked.

In April 2022, Simpson spoke to PEOPLE about their evolving relationship, saying, "It's about communicating and loving somebody. We both have the same purpose and the same heart in what we're doing together. And that's important."

She added that Johnson is "such a good dad and a good man." "[He's a] positive light in our family and encourages me to stay in the moment."

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