'It was all worth it. I appreciate him more every day,' says Higgins' fiancée in this week's PEOPLE

By Aili Nahas
Updated March 14, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: ABC/Matt Dunn
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WARNING: The following contains spoilers from Monday’s finale of The Bachelor. Read at your own risk!

America’s most eligible Bachelor is officially off the market!

But who did he give the final rose to?

Ben Higgins proposed to flight attendant Lauren Bushnell with a 4.25 carat Neil Lane ring on the show’s finale Monday night.

“Everything that happened led me to Lauren,” Higgins tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s cover story. “I couldn’t be happier.”

The business analyst, 27, fell hard for 26-year-old Bushnell on night one; his feelings grew stronger even as he grew close to runner up, real estate developer JoJo Fletcher, 25, eventually telling both women he was in love with them.

“I can’t apologize for being honest or expressing what I thought was best to express at the time,” says Higgins. “But I could never picture my life without Lauren.”

As for Bushnell, who is moving into Higgins’ Denver home this month, “It was all worth it. I appreciate him more every day.”

• For much more from Ben and Lauren’s new life together, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Episode Recaps

The Bachelor

Chris Harrison hosts the romance reality competition series in which a gaggle of women vie for the Bachelor’s heart — and a wedding proposal. Will you accept this rose?

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