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Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez attend the Los Angeles premiere of Amazon Studio's "The Tender Bar" at TCL Chinese Theatre on December 12, 2021 in Hollywood, California.

Jennifer Lopez is reflecting on her rekindled romance with Ben Affleck, telling PEOPLE in a new cover story that she feels “so lucky and happy and proud to be with him.”

The 52-year-old star said, “It’s a beautiful love story that we got a second chance.” Bennifer 2.0’s first rodeo was back in 2002, and after they called their engagement off in 2004, they reconnected once again nearly 20 years later. Lopez said they “had a little bit of fear” getting back together, knowing what media frenzy would await them. “Before we kind of put [our relationship] out there and we were naïve and it got a little trampled.”

This time, she said, “We both were like, ‘Wow, we’re so happy and we don’t want any of that to come into play again.’ We’re older now, we’re smarter, we have more experience, we’re at different places in our lives, we have kids now, and we have to be very conscious of those things. We’re so protective because it is such a beautiful time for all of us.”

The “If You Had My Love” singer added, “I just feel very happy and lucky to be in a relationship that’s happy and loving, and I want to do everything I can to protect that and keep it safe. It deserves that, it really does. … We hold it sacred.”

“It’s beautiful the way it feels very different than it was years ago. … There’s more of an appreciation and a celebration for it, which is nice,” Lopez said of her second chance at love with the actor. “When you find somebody and you really, really love them and you get a second chance at that? That is a really rare, precious, beautiful thing and we don’t take it for granted.”

When it comes to their kids, Lopez said, “When you’re in a good, healthy relationship, everybody benefits from that. Everybody.” She is a firm believer that love always conquers everything and that “It’s all about how loving, open and accepting you can be. Not having an ego about things and just embracing all the good, always looking at the positive.”

“What I can teach my children is that real love exists,” she added. “Some things can be forever, but it doesn’t mean they just have a straight line.”

Of her loving and respectful partner, Lopez said that Affleck, 49, put in the hard emotional work to become a better person. “I’m so proud of him, I’m so proud of the man he’s become that I’ve watched from afar. Being honest with each other, being loving, that’s just the basis of everything,” Lopez said. “I feel like he’s at a place in his life where — just like how I feel about myself — it’s been a journey of learning yourself and figuring yourself out, getting to a place where you feel really good on your own and who you are so you can be in a happy, healthy relationship.”

She added, “To see the person, the human being, the man that he is today, the father that he is today, the partner that he is — he is so everything I always knew he was and wanted to be.”

See Jennifer Lopez on the big screen on February 11 in Marry Me, starring alongside Owen Wilson. Watch the trailer below:

GALLERY: Bennifer 20 Years Ago To Now