Halle Berry says she wishes she met boyfriend Van Hunt ‘sooner’ in life.
In the cover story for the December issue of Women’s Health, the 55-year-old actress says her relationship with Hunt, whom she’s been dating since last fall, has made her a “much better mother” to her two children, Nahla Ariela, 13, and son Maceo Robert, 8.
“I just feel fulfilled. I feel happy in my life romantically, as a mother, as an artist,” she says of her life with Hunt. “I’m a much better mother in this circumstance than I would have been had I stayed in a romantic relationship that didn’t serve me and didn’t make me feel the way I need to feel as a woman.”
“I’m reminded that we always have to take care of ourselves first, because I can’t be a good mother for my children if I’m not fundamentally happy and feeling good about myself,” she adds.
The Bruised director shares Maceo with ex-husband Olivier Martinez, whom she split from in 2015, and daughter Nahla with ex Gabriel Aubry.
As a mom, Berry says she tries to teach her kids to stand up for themselves and be their own person.
“Use your voice. You have a right to be heard. You are loved and accepted just as you are. Only you define who you are,” Berry says she tells her daughter. “I’m trying to teach them to march to the beat of their own drum. Be true to themselves, and not be followers, but be leaders and innovators.”
Berry has previously discussed her relationship with Hunt, sharing at last month’s Elle Women in Hollywood Awards, “I’ve never had a man that has lifted me up and let me be all that I am.”
Speaking to PEOPLE (the TV Show!) special correspondent Adrianna Costa on the red carpet ahead of the awards, Berry said her boyfriend was right by her side while making Bruised, a film about a retired MMA fighter who is pushed to get back in the ring when her young son re-enters her life.
“I had a lot of support … [Hunt] was a big part of that,” Berry told PEOPLE. “He did some music for the movie. He actually wrote the title song.”
Hunt is a professional musician who released his debut album in 2004. Since then, he’s won a Grammy Award and released four additional albums.
When asked by Extra if she and her partner are “madly in love,” Berry replied, “We are,” before adding, “Sometimes you have to wait for things in life. I waited patiently — well, maybe not patiently, but I waited.”
Bruised is playing in select theaters now, and premieres Nov. 24 on Netflix.