Why Jon Batiste Married Suleika Jaouad at Home amid Her Leukemia Fight: 'It Was a Very Deep Time in Our Lives'

"You wouldn't think that she is going through what she's going through when you see her," Batiste tells PEOPLE of his wife Jaouad

Jon Batiste and Suleika Jaouad
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Jon Batiste is praising his wife Suleika Jaouad for her strength during a difficult time.

At Wednesday night's Time 100 Gala, the We Are artist opened up to PEOPLE about his wife's leukemia battle and revealed why they decided to get married in their new home.

The couple married in February right after Jaouad, 33, was diagnosed with leukemia for the second time. Now, Batiste says she's "doing better."

"Every single day we are praying and continuing the — I mean, she is incredible. You wouldn't think that she is going through what she's going through when you see her," Batiste, 35, tells PEOPLE. "She has this ability to take the toughest challenges and make it life-affirming. So, with her it's a special case. How she's doing, it's a Suleika thing."

Suleika Jaouad and Jon Batiste
Suleika Jaouad and Jon Batiste. Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty

He also revealed that their decision to get married in their new home felt like a clean slate.

"The house has been kind of a temple. It really has been a place where we go and it replenishes our soul. We built something very, very special. It's the combination of both of us," he says. "It's the perfect blend of all of our experiences together, and all of our ancestral experiences coming together. And it's amazing that we have that in the midst of this time."

He continued, "Our time there has helped to level a lot of what's happening. We got married in that house."

Batiste also says that because it was a last-minute decision, the ceremony was an intimate one.

"It was just close family. It was one of those things that we did the day before her bone marrow transplant, it was a very deep time in our lives, obviously for so many reasons," he says. "All the time that we put into building this house — it's been three years that we've been renovating, building and finding furniture and doing all these things to make it just right, so it's a beautiful combination of all that."

The Grammy winner secretly married Jaouad, the author of bestselling cancer memoir Between Two Kingdoms and she told CBS Sunday Morning that her diagnosis wasn't really a factor in his decision to pop the question.

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"He said to me, 'I just want to be very clear, I'm not proposing to you because of this diagnosis. It's taken me a year to design your ring. So, just know this timing has nothing to do with it. But what I do want you to know is that this diagnosis doesn't change anything. It just makes it all the clearer to me that I want to commit to this and for us to be together,'" Jaouad told the outlet. "But once we realized we had this tiny window before the bone marrow transplant, we decided to go for it."

Batiste and Jaouad were able to get their marriage license quickly and had a "tiny" and "perfect" wedding, adding that they "used bread ties" instead of formal wedding rings.

"And I'll tell you, we walked into that bone marrow transplant unit on cloud nine," Jaouad added. "We were so happy, so brimming with love and positivity from this beautiful evening that we'd had. And I really believe that that carried us through."

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