So when the actress, 34, confided in Dykstra within a week or two of dating that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (an incurable autoimmune disease, also known as MS) at age 20, the pro baseball player wasn’t fazed.
“I know she was nervous in telling me,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “But I just wanted to make her feel not so alone … to know that I would always be there.”
RELATED VIDEO: Newlywed Jamie Lynn Sigler Reveals She Has Been Battling MS for 15 Years
For Sigler, the support meant “everything” to her. “It’s something I might have been able to keep to myself a little bit longer, but MS does affect things in your life like intimacy. And I wanted to be able to share that with him,” she says. “And he said, ‘That’s okay, it doesn’t change anything that I feel and doesn’t make me look at you differently.’ He’s given me the courage to be able to sit here today and talk about this.”
Dykstra, 26, says her family and friends knew it was important to let Sigler decide when she wanted to go public with her illness.
“I think everyone around her always wanted her to come out with this but no one would ever push it. We wanted her to want to do it,” he says. “I knew it would be such a weight off her shoulders and make her feel so much better. Everyone is so proud of her.”
• For more of Sigler’s revealing interview, including exclusive photographs from her wedding album, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday
Sigler’s symptoms, which have been stable for six years thanks to medication, include difficulty walking for long periods of time and not being able to run.
Dykstra admits it’s hard to see his wife struggle at times: “I just want to help her so much, whether it’s going about the day to day things or getting her something from the kitchen or just letting her talk about it,” he says. “I just always want to be there for her and know what she’s going through; I don’t want her to hold it in.”
Recently married, the couple is looking forward to their future together and possibly giving their 2-year-old son, Beau, a sibling. “I’ve prepared myself for everything that could happen,” Sigler says. “But I’ve got an amazing husband, the best son, and I hope that we can make more babies and just keep having fun.”