Emily Maynard and Brad Womack
03/15/2011 at 05:20 PM EDT
Millions tuned in to see The Bachelor
's Brad Womack get down on one knee and propose
to single mom Emily Maynard in a South African vineyard. But are the couple still
"I'm so happily engaged. I've never been happier, I promise you that," Womack, 38, tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story.
The pair confess that the months following their storied TV courtship have been difficult
. When The Bachelor
began airing in January, Maynard, 25, saw that her fiancé was being, well, a bachelor on the show by wooing other women on their respective dates.
Despite Womack's assurances that she was the woman of his dreams, Maynard struggled as she watched the season play out.
"There have been numerous times where either she or I have said, 'To hell with it. It's just too difficult,' " Womack tells PEOPLE.
But love, the two say, is what always pulled them back together. Now that the show is over, the two are ready to focus on what really matters – their relationship.
"The hardest part is behind us," Maynard says. "I feel pretty confident if we can make it through [the past three months], we can make it through."
For more on the challenges faced by the couple since becoming engaged, what the future holds and their plans to start a family, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday