"Who's that?" Hoda askeed from behind the camera. "Dada!" Haley responds, pointing a little finger at Joel’s mouth, which he gently nibbled. The sweet moment said everything about Hoda's life right now. "Joel is not only a great partner, he will be with me the rest of my life" the Today co-host recently told Entertainment Tonight, adding, "He's an unbelievable father to Haley."
As the couple marks their fifth year together this summer, it's clear they are in their relationship for the long run. But is a wedding in the plans? A friend of the duo has exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine's latest issue, on newsstands now, "Hoda loves that man so much! Of course she'll marry him. The longer they stay together, the stronger they get."
Their connection has only deepened since they adopted Haley in February 2017, just a few months after they moved in together. But even though Hoda, 53, is happier than ever, she's in no rush to marry. "I've gone down that road once, so I would've normally said definitely not," she once admitted to E! News, but addded, "The fact that I'm [now] saying 'I don’t know' is saying something."
Hoda's hesitance is understandable. Her first marriage, to tennis coach Burzis Kanga in 2005, ended in divorce two years later. So even if "she's been ready to wed Joel," the friend explained, "she doesn’t want to jinx anything because they're getting along so well."
Hoda and Joel, who's also divorced and has a grown daughter, have been taking things slow since they met at a book signing in 2013. They began dating and she kept her relationship private — referring to the 60-year-old financier only as "Boots" and not posting pictures of him for two years. But they grew closer. "Hoda and Joel are truly soulmates," the friend said.
Hoda began to open up about Joel publicly in 2015, and they moved in together in 2016. Now she's downright giddy about their happiness, recently calling him "the man I've dreamt of." Hoda's friends, like Kathie Lee Gifford, are excited for her and are also hoping for a wedding invite.
"If Kathie Lee had anything to say about it, she would have married them herself years ago," the friend shared. Instead, the couple made another strong commitment to each other when they adopted little Haley last year. "[She] will call him Dad," Hoda said at the time to People. And now she does.
Why does their union work? "Joel respects Hoda," the friend explained. "He finds her sexy. She thinks he's the most handsome guy in the world." And they enjoy the same things, like going to the beach and simple dinners at home. They know they have something special. "They were in love before Haley," the friend said, "but now they're a threesome — a much stronger unit."
Until they decide to wed, Hoda is enjoying her family as is. "Joel is the perfect fit for me," she told Entertainment Tonight. "And when [Haley] says 'Dada,' I don't know that there's a sweeter sound."
For more on Hoda Kotb, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!
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