"I had no hesitations getting on one knee," says Bachelor No. 19 – "everything felt right and perfect"
Credit: Nicole Kohl/ABC

PEOPLE Exclusive: The Bachelor‘s Chris Soules and fiancée Whitney Bischoff open up about their small-town life together – and starting a family! Subscribe now for instant access to their plans for beating the odds and making love last.

Chris Soules is The Bachelor! After a bittersweet exit from Andi Dorfman’s season of The Bachelorette, the farmer from Arlington, Iowa, found love on ABC’s hit franchise. Chris, 33, blogged for PEOPLE.com every week about the women, the dates and the difficult decisions he made on his journey to love – up until the final rose itself. Follow the newly engaged Chris on Twitter.

Wow. I can’t believe it’s over. Watching the end of my journey felt surreal. And while it was incredible to watch my love story unfold on national television, I have to say, I’m relieved it’s done. I can finally stop living in secrecy, and my fiancée and I can finally be a normal couple!!!

Going to Iowa for the end of the journey was the only logical place for me. While Bali was incredible, I wanted this part to take place at home. Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was snow-covered, and windy, and barren, but it’s home. It’s where my heart is, and the only place I could imagine getting down on one knee.

I was truly hoping for pure, unequivocal clarity, but I didn’t have it. I really thought when I started out on this whole thing, that, by this point, I would know exactly what I wanted to do, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. I know it may seem impossible to be in love with two women, but I promise you, it’s not. It’s also not easy, nor is it fun; I guess this is what happens when you start off by dating 30 incredible women.

Seeing my family again brought tears to my eyes. I love them so much, and I know how much they love me. I was so glad to be back with them, and to have their much-needed support. Part of me was really hoping they would just make the decision for me, but they knew, and I knew, that wasn’t realistic.

I was nervous and excited for Whitney to come to Arlington. She was the only girl who hadn’t been (we were on our Des Moines date when the girls took their road trip), so it worried me to think she might not be as excited about potentially moving to my hometown when she got there and was able to see how small it really was. While she didn’t get to see much of it that day with my family, she definitely got a feel for how small the place is, and how we really live in the country, and I was so glad she was fine with that.

Whitney fit into my family perfectly, and my expectations were high! She just clicked with my sisters and felt like she was one of them. When she gave her toast, it was so heartfelt, my dad even teared up. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw my dad cry. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! My family clearly fell in love with Whitney that day.

I know my brother-in-law Jason questioned if the reason I was drawn to Becca was because she was “the girl who’s hard to get,” but I know that wasn’t the reason. It had nothing to do with her lack of reciprocating my feelings – trust me, I probably would have had even stronger feelings if she had been more vocal. My feelings for her were because of who she is and how she made me feel. (That being said, I have the best brothers-in-law in the world. They are truly my brothers.)

I was pretty surprised by how outgoing Becca was when she met my family. She also totally knocked it out of the park. Watching her conversation now with my sisters reminds me of how honest and real Becca is. She didn’t try to sugarcoat anything with them and didn’t try to oversell herself under false pretenses. She was undeniably herself.

Watching her conversation with my mom was very surprising. It’s the first (and only) time I’ve ever seen her cry. Mom sure knows how to tug on those heartstrings.

Hearing my dad say that he thought Whitney was the sure thing – but that Becca was who I wanted – was hard to watch. The truth is, at that time, I didn’t know what I wanted. And also, any time you take a chance on love, it’s a risk, no matter whom it’s with.

I knew Becca and I needed to have some serious conversations, and I didn’t go through this journey to hold back; I needed to put all my cards on the table. I had to ask her the tough questions and push her like my sisters suggested. I understood how hard this was for Becca because she’d never been in love before, but I really needed to know where her heart was

Bringing Whitney to the farm was incredible. She really got to see what my life is like, and that was important for me to show her. I’ll spend 14-plus hours a day on the combine during harvest. That is my office. If whomever I’m married to wants to visit me, that’s where I’ll be, so it was great that Whitney got a chance to experience it firsthand. My life is not glamorous. It’s not pool parties and cocktail parties and fancy suits. I wanted to make sure Whitney really understood that and she did.

Bringing Whitney to my home just felt right. It felt like she belonged there. Hearing her talk about why she was so certain about us triggered something in me. It’s hard to explain, but this whole time I had been really trying to balance all my relationships fairly. But hearing the certainty in Whitney’s words created a confidence I didn’t have before. It was so hard to say goodbye to Whitney and Becca at the end of our nights together, because I knew the next time I saw them, I’d be saying goodbye to one and possibly proposing to the other.

Looking at rings felt completely surreal. That whole morning felt like a dream. I really, really didn’t know what to do, but I decided to go with my gut and live in the moment, and I had faith in myself that I would make the right decision.

I want to tell you a little bit about that red barn. That barn is on a property my family has owned for three generations. I grew up in the house next to the barn. I raised my first pig in that barn. I piled hay in that barn when I was a kid. I set up a basketball hoop on the side of it I played on for all my teen years. That barn is Soules family history and to be able to have it be a part of one of the best days in my life was a dream come true.

Waiting for Becca in the barn, I truly didn’t know how I would feel when I saw her. I knew she wasn’t ready for the kind of commitment I was ready for, but I didn’t know that I would be able to say goodbye to what we had. Saying those words to her was painful, but what almost hurt even more was the lack of emotion she showed in that moment. I knew then, deep in my heart, I was making the right decision. I need someone I can relate to emotionally, on a deep, deep level, and I just don’t think Becca is there yet. Yes, it was horrible and painful saying goodbye to her, but I finally had my answer and felt a huge sense of relief in my gut.

Then, something magical happened. The sun came out for the first time in days as Whitney was approaching the barn. I don’t know if it was the sun or what, but in that moment I finally had the clarity I was searching for. It had been staring me in my face the whole time, I was just too confused to notice it. It was so clear to me that Whitney was the love of my life. I knew I was falling in love with her, but as soon as I let go of my relationship with Becca, it was so clear that I was in love with Whitney. I know that may sound weird to you, but I’ve always said, when you know, you know. And I knew.

Seeing Whitney walk up those stairs completely overwhelmed me. This was the woman I’ve been searching for my whole life. Being able to tell Whitney that I loved her was like lifting a huge weight off my shoulders. Saying those words to her was so easy, because it was, and is, true. I love that woman. I had no hesitations getting on one knee for her. Everything felt right and perfect. Yes, it was probably the hardest week of my life. This whole journey was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but that moment made every heartache and tear worth it.

Whitney is the woman of my dreams. She is going to make an incredible, doting wife and loving mother. She makes me better. She’s my other half. I can’t wait for us to start our life together, to emerge from under the rock of secrecy and just be normal.

Ladies and gentleman, the farmer has found his wife.

Thank you so much for watching and for reading. It’s being a crazy, intense experience, but it was all worth it.

I’ll miss you America!
— Chris

Chris Soules Is Excited to Start a Family with Fiancée Whitney Bischoff