"We met in Mexico, and it was the perfect example of right guy, wrong time because we had this beautiful affair, came back to L.A. and just stayed friends," Burke-Charvet, 42, tells Health for its April cover story.
"If we had gotten together then, we wouldn't have made it," she says of meeting two decades ago. "We had to grow up and then we found each other much later in life, and it was the right time."
They have made up for those years apart by staying close – while weathering the demands of a large and blended family as well as her thyroid cancer diagnosis and surgery in 2012.
"We believe in romance. We hold hands. We cook together. We still make out," says Burke-Charvet about keeping their connection alive. "We're very fiery passionate people, so when we fight, it's like the 4th of July!"
Although she is exiting her hosting duties at Dancing With the Stars, Burke-Charvet still has plenty on her plate, including an upcoming guest spot on Melissa & Joey.
But looking hot isn't her focus, she says. That remains tending to her family, also knowing that when in the midst of her "chaotic" life she needs to take a moment for herself.
"I have four children and several different careers, but I really know how to turn it all off," she says.
"I know how to shut down my phone for family time. I can take a little time to myself to watch a sunset or have a cup of green tea and read a magazine."