Ellen DeGeneres Says Wife Portia de Rossi Her 'Rock' Amid Toxic Workplace Controversy

The past year has been difficult for comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who found [...]

The past year has been difficult for comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who found herself at the center of widespread controversy after allegations arose of a toxic workplace on her namesake talk show. Through it all, though, her wife Portia de Rossi has been by her side, and DeGeneres is giving her some major kudos and expressing her thanks.

Speaking with PEOPLE for one of three Valentine's Day covers for the outlet's "Love" issue, DeGeneres got candid about their relationship, including the strength de Rossi offered her during investigations into The Ellen DeGeneres Show over the summer. The allegations were brought forth by several current and former employees, and amid the study, three top producers were fired. As DeGeneres issued a formal apology, de Rossi showed her support, taking to Instagram to say, "I stand by Ellen." DeGeneres told PEOPLE her wife was her "rock" throughout the ordeal.

"It broke my heart; I couldn't have gone through everything I went through without her," DeGeneres said. "It was a horrible time in my life, and she was a rock. She kept me going and tried to help me put things in perspective."

DeGeneres and de Rossi first met after being introduced at a Rock the Vote concert, with de Rossi telling PEOPLE she remembers "thinking that she was the coolest, most fascinating, beautiful, funniest person I'd ever met." At the time, de Rossi was still "closeted" and "really wasn't comfortable with my sexuality." The two reunited at the Big in '04 VH1 honors, where DeGeneres said they "started talking, and that was it. She opened up and said she'd been thinking about me." The couple began dating that year and tied the knot in August 2008 after same-sex marriage was legalized in California.

According to de Rossi, she and DeGeneres have "grown together as a couple, and we really consider each other and put our relationship first. By doing that, you become a lot more solid. I can't imagine spending time with anyone but her." DeGeneres added that she and her wife "think the same things, say the same things at the same time, finish each other's sandwiches — no, sentences. We're in a rhythm that's easy." With more than a decade of marriage under their belts, the couple is still finding ways to keep the romance alive. DeGeneres said whenever de Rossi travels for work, the actress "has the hotel put rose petals in the shape of a love heart on my bed," something that the talk show host admitted, "always catches me off-guard." De Rossi will also "leave little notes around if she's going somewhere, which is really sweet." DeGeneres said, "we're lucky to have each other. We practice a lot of gratitude."