Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard sat down exclusively with PEOPLE for this week's cover story to talk about marriage, parenting and more

By Melody Chiu
March 23, 2019 08:00 AM
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Dax Shepard has been outspoken about his battle with addiction, and his hard-won sobriety isn’t something his wife Kristen Bell takes for granted.

“I know how much effort has to be put into staying sober. I don’t mean that to be like, I come home and see him shaking and looking at a whiskey ad or something, [but] there are different elements you have to deal with when you’re staying sober,” the Frozen actress, 38, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s cover story, on stands Friday. “It’s a ton of mental control and evolution.”

Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell
Jeff Lipsky

Over their nearly 12 years together, Bell says she’s “always watched” her husband’s feet, which have consistently “been running towards good goals,” she says. “It’s just impressive for someone to have been that mindful about something.”

Every year on Shepard’s sober birthday, Bell “spoils the hell out of me,” says the comedian, 44, who recently launched a plant-based baby product line named Hello Bello with his wife. “The nicest presents she’s gotten me are always on my sober birthday. In fact, my real birthday … still haven’t gotten a present!”

Jeff Lipsky
  • For much more on Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell’s marriage, parenting philosophies and new baby product line, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

“I’m very happy he was born so I celebrate his birthday, but I’m extraordinarily [happy] that he has stayed sober because that’s what allows me to have him in my life as a husband and as a father,” explains Bell, who has two daughters, Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 4, with Shepard.

On one milestone, Bell purchased an original copy of The Adventurers by Harold Robbins (Shepard was named after the lead character in the novel) and had loved ones write messages in the book. “That was incredible,” says Shepard.

Last fall, Bell shared a touching note on Instagram in celebration of Shepard’s 14th year of sobriety, which quickly made headlines because of its sentiment.

“I scrape together 14 years of sobriety, and she writes a little flowery thank you. Now there’s headlines all over the country about Kristen’s accomplishment of writing this letter. I’m like, ‘Just like you to steal my thunder!'” quips Shepard. “I’m the one that went to 10,000 AA meetings. At no point was the message of any of the stories like, ‘Good job, Dax.’ It was like, ‘Can you imagine being loved by a woman like Kristen Bell?'”

In all seriousness, “it was crazy sweet,” says Shepard, “and I loved it.”