Nikki Bella Explains Why She Defends Her Long Engagement to Artem Chigvintsev: 'I Feel Like I Have To'

Artem Chigvintsev and Nikki Bella got engaged during a romantic trip to France in November 2019

Artem Chigvintsev and Nikki Bella
Photo: Rob Latour/Shutterstock

Nikki Bella is setting the record straight about her future with fiancé Artem Chigvintsev.

While attending the 2022 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards on Saturday evening, the Total Bellas star, 38, chatted with PEOPLE about her engagement, which has been ongoing since November 2019.

When asked about her and Chigvintsev's decision to not rush into marriage, Bella explained, "I think being a reality star for seven years, I took people on such a journey that they still have, like, input about my life."

"So at times, I get into that mode where I feel like I have to defend it because I'll see people say all these things online and make it a negative," she continued. "I'm like, it's not a negative."

Bella detailed that "building a house" together and sharing their son Matteo Artemovich, 1½, are two big reasons why the couple hasn't gotten married yet. "Life is really stressful. We're barely home together at the same time. There's a lot more, I don't want to say important things in life, but a lot more [to focus on]," she shared.

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"Like, we want Matteo to go to private school, so to spend what private schools cost on florals at our wedding, I'm like, I think I'll go with education," the mother of one noted.

Nikki Bella
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The former WWE star met Chigvintsev, 39, when they were partnered on Dancing with the Stars in 2017.

They made their relationship official in July 2019 after dating with "no labels" for nearly four months, and were engaged four months later. In July 2020, they welcomed their son.

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Last month, on a special edition of her and sister Brie Bella's The Bellas Podcast, Nikki echoed similar sentiments and confirmed that she still has every intention to say "I do" to Chigvintsev at some point in the future.

"I will be getting married, and I can't wait," she shared on the March podcast episode. "I do me, for me. So that means I'll marry Artem when I want, for me and Teo and him, for my life."

RELATED VIDEO: Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev Celebrate Matteo's 1st Birthday: 'The Most Incredible Year'

Nikki last updated PEOPLE about wedding planning in February, when she shared that she and her fiancé "are looking at Paris right now."

"We feel like it's the easiest to get his parents there," she continued. "We're figuring out dates, so we'll see, but we're thinking that Paris would be the perfect place."

As for a date for their eventual nuptials, Nikki said she would've loved for the wedding to fall within the next few months, but explained, however, "there's just a lot of complications right now."

The star also told PEOPLE that she wants her wedding day to be a big festivity. "I always go big," she explained. "The people attending might be small, but it will still be big."

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