67-year-old Kathie Lee Gifford's first marriage to music composer Paul Johnson was not a happy one as he wanted nothing to do with her soon after they got married.
Kathie Lee Gifford, the former co-host of the Today Show, has enjoyed a fruitful career and a long marriage with her late husband Frank Gifford. The pair cherished every moment of their marriage which lasted almost three decades before Frank tragically passed away in 2015 at the age of 84. While it would seem that Gifford was lucky in marriage, it's important to note that Frank was indeed her second husband. Unfortunately, her first marriage to music composer Paul Johnson was not a happy one.
Sixty-seven-year-old Gifford revealed heartbreaking, personal details of her relationship with Johnson in her memoir, It's Never Too Late: Make the Next Act of Your Life the Best Act of Your Life. "The truth is, it was only a marriage in the pages of the law. Though Paul and I were married, we shared only one thing - our faith," she wrote in the book, according to The Sun. "I was a virgin on my wedding night with Paul, and still considered myself one when he left me five years later. It’s hard even now to explain why I stayed so long in a sexless marriage. I certainly would never do it again."
Although the pair was married from 1976 to 1983, there was apparently no spark between them. Explaining why she did not file for a divorce sooner, Gifford shared, "But back then divorce had much more of a stigma, and no one in my family was divorced. I believed that God could heal our marriage and prayed every day that He would. Before we married, Paul told me that he was a virgin too." While the former TV host expected to spend some intimate time her husband in the bedroom, he reportedly shunned her to another room.
"We talked about how we wanted to honor God’s Word and present ourselves as a gift to the person we would eventually marry. But after we were married he wanted nothing to do with me. Nothing. I was excited about starting a life with someone, but he didn’t feel the same way. I felt humiliated sleeping in my guest room," she continued. Gifford went on to reveal that they were "never been truly intimate," and towards the end of their marriage, they even "stopped talking" to each other. Naturally, the young television personality was left devasted after being rejected by her own husband.
"It was so damaging to me on so many levels, damaging for me emotionally as a woman to be rejected after saving myself all those years," she told PEOPLE. "And then it was so disappointing on a spiritual level, because I had to ask the Lord, 'How did I get this so wrong anyway?’ I don’t even like to call him my husband because he wasn’t in the truest sense of the word." Even though she did her best to make the relationship work, her husband ultimately left her. Instead of feeling disappointed, she was reportedly relieved. "I realized, you know what, we can make all the vows we want in life, but if both people don’t want the same thing, it’s not going to work out. And I was very hopeful that one day I would find a real love."
Thankfully, she did find true love with Frank, a football star-turned broadcaster. The two met while she hosted Good Morning America and soon after falling in love, they decided to tie the knot in 1986. They welcomed their son Cody in 1990 and daughter Cassidy in 1993. "Our almost 30-year marriage was a real love affair and a true marriage in every sense of the word, so God redeemed," she added. Although a cheating scandal nearly ended their marriage, Gifford decided to give her husband another chance. Ultimately, he earned her trust as they worked out their marriage and stayed together until his death in 2015.
Cover image source: Getty for SiriusXM | Photo by Astrid Stawiarz