When TV personality Leeza Gibbons married Steven Fenton in 2011, she joked that she was finally embracing “my inner cougar” – on their first date he was 38 and she was 51.
Now approaching their two-year anniversary in April, Gibbons has given a little more thought to the dynamics of their relationship and concludes that “the term cougar has so much energy around it that doesn’t really fit.”
“We laugh about it all the time,” Gibbons, now 55, tells PEOPLE. (Fenton is a longtime talent manager and former president of the Board of Education in Beverly Hills.) “I always joke that emotionally and with regard to maturity, he’s much older than I am.”
The theme of starting over – “rebooting your life,” as Gibbons calls it – runs through her new book, Take 2: Your Guide to Creating Happy Endings and New Beginnings.
She’s had much to draw on from her own life: She’s been divorced (this is her fourth marriage), had high-profile jobs at Entertainment Tonight, Extra and Leeza, and seen her kids grow older. She became an activist for family caregivers as her mother and grandmother both had Alzheimer’s.
She writes about navigating change, basking in one’s past, handling disappointments, “test-driving our dreams,” learning how to say no and embracing the “Goddess Quotient” – how to be “a good girlfriend to yourself.”
As for her own big new beginning, Gibbons remembers how just a couple of years ago she privately worried about the age difference.
“I did play out all those fears,” she says. “I went through the list: I’ve got kids, there’s a lot in my life that is big and complicated, he should be starting a young family. I went through all of it. I decided that I needed to count my blessings and not my stretch marks. I recognized that my work in the relationship was not to decide what he felt about it.”
In the end, she says, “It was up to Steven to decide how to receive. He didn’t need me to protect him from our age difference. Now two years later, there’s so much respect and so much fun and so much faith in each other. We truly are our biggest supporters. That’s really love”