Lisa Roden, 30, reveals all about her age gap romance
With his bald head and silver beard, I was pretty sure the new guy at my college was a little more mature than some of us there. At 23 I'd just signed up for a maths and English class and, when I asked about joining a computer course too, I bumped into Richard. I reckoned he must be in his 50s and I soon learnt that he was kind, charming and a little cheeky. He started giving me lifts home and he'd always wink at me as we said goodbye.
For almost a year we were friends, then one day Richard had a confession. 'I have feelings for you,' he told me. I wasn't surprised - he'd always been a little flirty. But I hadn't been very lucky in love and I thought it was best we stayed as mates.
Richard was persistent though and one day he invited me and my daughter Bethany, then five, to the beach for the weekend. A break sounds good, I thought, agreeing. While we were away, Richard was a real gent and I noticed my feelings changing. Maybe an older man was what I needed.
Although there were 46 years between us, age was just a number.
Telling him how I felt, I never expected the bombshell to come. 'I'm 69,' he revealed. 'I've got 10 children, 36 grandkids and nine great-grandkids.' I looked at him in shock. I'd thought he was in his 50s! But right then I knew it wouldn't put me off. Although there were 46 years between us, age was just a number.
Richard was a romantic - he held doors open for me, bought me flowers and chocolates, and doted on Bethany. When we kissed for the first time, I felt fireworks and when things got intimate, Richard - with all his experience - was passionate yet gentle.
'I will love you forever my darling,' he'd whisper, holding me tight between the sheets. Having lost touch with a lot of friends after having Bethany, I wasn't worried about being judged about my new man. But naturally, my parents were cautious. 'He's old enough to be your grandad,' they said. 'But I love him,' I told them.
That's what I love about him. His upbeat attitude and zest for life.
After dating for six months, Bethany and I moved into the home Richard had lived in for more than 30 years. As we spent more time together, and went out walking hand in hand, we did receive a bit of negativity. 'Cradle-snatcher!' strangers would yell at Richard. It was upsetting but not unexpected and behind closed doors, Richard and I just laughed it off.
'Getting rid of that '70s wallpaper might help!' I teased Richard. 'Surely you can afford to decorate with your pension.' 'It's fun, just like me!' Richard retaliated, waving his slippers in the air. That's what I love about him. His upbeat attitude and zest for life.
In fact, Richard was feeling so good that in 2008 we started trying for a family. Still, we weren't expecting to be told we were having twins! 'Are you sure?' Richard asked the nurse, turning white. 'Yes, congratulations grandad!' the nurse replied. 'Thank you - but I'm the dad!' he told her sharply. It took a while to sink in, but Richard was soon buying matching outfits. I bought him a T-shirt which read Super Stud, I'm the Daddy! and he wore it proudly!
The twins, Emily and Ruby, were born prematurely at 36 weeks in January 2009 and Richard was by my side. Although when we got them home he struggled with disposable nappies. 'They've changed since I had kids!' he joked when he put one on back to front. But in spite of the challenges he was a real help, walking Bethany to school each day too. Not long after, Richard proposed in bed. Well, he couldn't go down on one knee because of his arthritis!
It didn't matter to me that I'd be Richard's third wife. Tying the knot in September 2009 was the icing on the cake. It was a traditional wedding in a church with 80 guests - including my parents - and afterwards life was great.
By then Richard was 70, while I was 24 and, yes, he would get tired and sometimes have an afternoon nap. But what did that matter? Later though, in 2010, we were in for a shock. I found out I was pregnant again!
Little Maddison came along in January 2011 and we loved her so much. But Richard and I did decide that, with four kids, we didn't need to have any more!
It didn't matter to me that I'd be Richard's third wife.
It was just six months later, when our world came crashing down. Richard had noticed blood in his urine and the doctors had devastating news. He had bladder cancer. 'I'll beat it,' he assured with his trademark positivity, wrapping his arms around me.
Undergoing chemo twice a week for six months, it was hard to see him so tired and losing weight. But Richard's a battler and for a while he beat it. Until, in March 2013 we were told the cancer was back.
This time, he was hit hard. For the first time he seemed like a frail old man. Helping him up the stairs and changing his catheter, I was terrified I was going to lose him. But Richard is remarkable. By the end of the year he'd bounced back and soon we'd decided to renew our vows.
As the ceremony approached in August last year, Richard seemed happier than ever. I chose another wedding dress and had 60 guests to witness the emotional occasion. Except this time we didn't consummate our marriage. Richard fell asleep in front of the TV! It didn't bother me though. We still enjoy our fair share of romance.
We have regular date nights, and this Valentine's Day we will be going to the local pub for a meal - I'll buy Richard a nice watch and he will probably get me a cute teddy bear. I don't care what anyone says about my marriage. My man is full of life - he's always having a laugh and that's why I'll always love him.