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"After Vanessa [Bryant] lost Kobe, all I could do was look at Michael and be like, 'Can we please help you? Because if I lose you, I don't know what I'm gonna do,'" the 35-year-old mother of three said. "Michael is the most amazing father and partner I could have ever asked for."
Video: Michael Phelps on his struggle with depression
The model, who wed the star athlete in 2016, explained that it has been important for herself to realize how she can help him and how she can't.
"I used to think, 'Oh, I can fix him. I can be his therapist. I can be what he needs,'" she shared. "But what I've learned is that you can't take ownership for how they're feeling, no matter how badly you want to."
Michael, who has been forthright about his mental-health struggles in the past, told Today Parents last month that he has had some "scary ups and downs" amid the ongoing pandemic.
"Nicole loves me and wants to help. She wants me to get better," the winner of 28 Olympic medals added at that time. "But she's struggling herself. She needs that support as well. I know it's hard for her."
The couple share 4-year-old Boomer, 2-year-old Beckett and 16-month-old Maverick, and it can be challenging for the three boys to know when to give some space to their 35-year-old dad.
"The boys want to be near Michael when he's having a rough day. They want to try and make him happy--especially Boomer because he's the oldest," Nicole said in the Jan. 12 interview. "So we'll say, 'Hey, Booms, Daddy's having a hard time and just needs to take a moment to be alone.' We want Boomer to understand it's not about him, it's about Michael."
Luckily, the couple has found a new routine that benefits them during the pandemic, including working out together. In addition, Michael has been cooking dinner for the family every night.
"We've definitely grown together through this and learned a lot," she concluded. "It's not easy, but I'm married to the most incredible human being."
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