Marriage hasn’t always been easy for Kathie Lee Gifford. Back in 1997, the TV star learned her beloved husband Frank Gifford had an affair with a married flight attendant named Suzen Johnson — and the news of her spouse’s infidelity absolutely crushed Kathie Lee.

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“She thought her whole world was going to end,” an insider exclusively told Closer Weekly. Despite Frank’s cheating, the Today star decided to stay with her husband for the sake of their two children, son Cody and daughter Cassidy, who were just age seven and three, respectively, at the time. “She told me she packed up her and the kids’ bags at least twice, but she prayed her way through it,” the source continued. “She was torn, but the bottom line is that Frank was an exceptional parent.”

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Frank, Cassidy, Kathie Lee, and Cody in 2012. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

“[Frank] apologized and worked hard over the years to regain her trust. He hated himself for what he did,” the insider said. During a recent red carpet appearance, Kathie Lee — who sadly lost Frank to natural causes at age 84 in August 2015 — exclusively told Closer that she has never regretted her decision to stay with the former NFL star. “If you love him, and he loves you, and you are willing to forgive him, and it is sincere, then work at it, especially if you have children,” she said.

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Kathie Lee — who was married to Frank for 29 years before his passing — candidly opened up about her husband’s upsetting affair during a recent Today episode. “It’s no fun, it’s horrible. You’re broken by it. The people who you love the most are the ones capable of hurting you the most,” she told co-host Hoda Kotb on-air. “A lot of people are sorry they got caught; hardly anybody is [truly] sorry they did something. Know the difference. That’s the first thing someone once said to me, if somebody cheats on you, first time see your pastor, priest or rabbi. Second time, see your lawyer. If it’s a pattern, get out and take your kids as fast as you can.”

“It takes a lifetime to build that kind of friendship and history together and trust.
It takes one stupid decision to destroy it,” Kathie Lee once said of her marriage. “The ones who make it through [do it with] the help of God. It’s the only way. You better be clinging to God really tight already because you’re going to be practically breaking your hand holding on.”