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/ Source: TODAY
By Drew Weisholtz

Hoda Kotb will never forget the time partner Joel Schiffman pledged his love to her.

“He was the first person to say ‘I love you,’ and I remember him saying it to me,” Hoda recalled on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna Friday. "And after he said it, I remember just sitting there because I wanted to feel it for a minute.”

“Like, just to sit with that for a minute — somebody saying, you know, he just said, ‘I love you,’” she continued. “And I paused, and he goes, ‘Don’t leave me hanging out here in the abyss,’” she said.

The 55-year-old fourth hour co-host explained that Joel, whom she’s been with for six years, uttering those three words was an act of courage because he really put himself out there.

“He goes, ‘Please,’ and I told him I loved him, too, but I remember thinking to be the first person to say it is risky and that takes guts,” she said. “And it’s easy to be the one who says, ‘I love you, too,’ and I will always admire him because he has guts.”

When he told her, she knew that she loved him, too, but needed some time to process the enormity of it.

“Sometimes, you want a moment to wash over you. I think a lot of moments were, like, he said it, I say it, ‘cause I’m a pleaser,” Hoda explained. “So I’m, like, I don’t want him to feel bad, but in that moment I just wanted to …,” she said, without finishing the thought.

The love has certainly blossomed — and spread. The couple now has two daughters they've adopted, Haley, 2, and Hope, who Hoda announced she adopted in April.