The Dina McGreevey Interview
People were stunned not only by what Jim said, but also by the fact that his wife, Dina Matos McGreevey, stood smiling by his side. Since her husband's resignation, Dina has maintained her silence—until now. In her new book, Silent Partner, Dina offers her side of the story.
"For three years, people have been wondering what the real story is and how I felt that day and how I could be up there. And for the past three years, people have been making up their own stories about who they think I am, why I was there," Dina says. "And I thought it was time to tell my own story."
Five years after they met, Dina and Jim were married. "It was like a fairy tale," Dina says. "The Jim I fell in love with was charismatic, passionate, down-to-earth. I was very happy."
When Jim was elected governor, Dina thought she had attained the American dream. "I had a new baby, a new home to renovate, a full-time job. I thought that Jim and I formed a great team," she says. "I think that together we thought that we could possibly change the world."
"Because you're not only saying it to the woman you love, you're saying it to yourself," Jim said. "She was sitting on the couch, and I just said to her that I had done something very wrong. I had been involved in another relationship. A relationship with a man. And she was…she was stunned."
Dina agrees that she was stunned at Jim's admission—but she disagrees with one part of his statement. "'The woman you love,' I don't think that was accurate," Dina says. "I think it was all just a charade for him."
According to Dina, Jim gave her the news in what she calls "cowardly installments." She says, "He sat me down and … he told me he had had a relationship. And I waited for him to tell me more, and I asked him, 'With whom?' and he told me. And then he said—again, he couldn't bring himself to telling me the truth—and said, 'It was sexual,' and then he paused, 'but not sexual.' And that's when I started to cry."
Dina says she was in shock after what Jim had told her. "It was all so new, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks, and I wasn't absorbing it," she says. "I just started to cry, and I said to him, 'What does that mean for us?' And he said, 'I need you more than ever.' … He had tears in his eyes, and I was just sobbing."
"In the course of the three days of his explanation and confession to me, it was clear to me that he never loved me," she says. "I didn't think so."
On the day of the news conference, Dina was dealt another blow as she read the speech Jim had prepared. "The first time I saw [the words] I am a gay American was two hours before the press conference," she says. "He never told me, 'I am gay.'"
"He was telling me what to do, and he said, 'You have to be Jackie Kennedy today,'" she says. "And I'm thinking, 'Jackie Kennedy—her husband was murdered. You lied and cheated on me, and I have to be Jackie Kennedy?'"
Dina says her decision came as the result of examining her own thoughts and consulting with a therapist. "[My therapist said], 'Do whatever you're comfortable with,'" she says.
Ultimately, despite the humiliation it caused her, Dina says she chose to be at Jim's side for the sake of their then-2-year-old daughter, Jacqueline. "I thought about it, and I thought, well, I've stood by his side all these years. We have a daughter together, and one day she's going to hear about this or read about it, and she's going to ask me, 'Mommy, why weren't you at Daddy's side?'" she says. "So I was there for my daughter's father. And I also had nothing to hide. I had done nothing wrong."
Although she has asked herself many times if there were any warning signs, Dina says her physical relationship with Jim didn't give her any suspicions that he might be gay. "There was no red flag. You know, I had no complaints, and he never complained to me," she says. "I thought we had a normal relationship. There was absolutely nothing to indicate otherwise."
Despite all that happened, Dina says she continued to love Jim even after his announcement. "Feelings don't evaporate overnight. It's not like, 'All right, I want to turn off the switch and I'm not going to love him anymore," she says. "His marriage may have been a hoax, but my marriage was real. I still loved him."
A month and a half later, Dina says she and Jim went to Montreal. During dinner, she was getting ready to put her menu down when she saw a box on her plate. "So he looked at me and said, 'Aren't you going to open it?' So I opened it and I looked at it and I was waiting for him to say something. He didn't say anything," she says. "And he said, 'What do you think?' 'What do you mean what do I think?' 'Well,' he says, 'Well, it's a pretty significant ring.'"
Dina says she looked at him and waited longer for a proposal. "And it never happened. And he says, 'Well?' I'm like, 'Well, what?'" Dina says. "'What do you think?' [Jim asked]. I said, 'I guess yes.'"
Although she agreed to marry him, Dina says Jim never actually proposed. "He wasn't going to get on his knees," she says. "He never asked."
Oprah asks Dina: Did Jim apologize? "If that's what you call it," Dina says. "It was a pathetic attempt at an apology."
A few days after the news conference, Dina says she and Jim went away for the weekend to escape the press. "I had complained to some of his friends that he had never apologized," she says. "And he came back into the room and said, 'For the record, I apologize.' And that was like a slap in the face. I mean, I rather would have had him not say anything."
Does Dina feel like Jim has any remorse about what he put her through? "I don't think so," she says. "His actions over the last two and a half or three years are not the actions of someone who's remorseful."
"He just left the papers on the kitchen counter and I went through them and started reading, and that's where I read that he had married me for political gain," Dina says. Looking back at Jim's press conference, she says he had stated that he married his first wife "out of love and respect." When he spoke of Dina, however, she says he only thanked her for her love and bringing joy to his life. "He never said he loved me," Dina says.
In her book, Dina writes that she shared a bed with Jim for three months after the announcement. "I assumed that he would move out," she says. "Our bedroom was the only one that was close to the nursery. All the other bedrooms were on the opposite side of the house. So I certainly couldn't move out because I had my daughter near me … and he didn't move out."
Although the couple slept in the same bed, Dina says she never thought they could fix their relationship. "No, I couldn't," she says. "I couldn't live a lie."
Looking back, is Dina proud of the way she handled things after the announcement? "I'm proud of the way I handled it for my daughter and for my family. I should have … kicked him out of the bedroom. In retrospect, I should have done that," she says. "But again, I was in a fog. … Here I was the first lady of New Jersey. I had my job. I had my family. I had the awesome responsibilities associated with that role. And I was left with nothing."
Dina reached out to the one person she thought could advise her during this time—Hillary Clinton. "First of all, she asked me how I was. And she had some great advice," Dina says. "Her advice was, 'You have to get your own counsel. You can't let his advisors tell you what to do, but most importantly, you have to take care of yourself and your daughter.'"
Had the revelation not been so public, would Dina have stayed? "The marriage was obviously a lie. I couldn't live a lie," Dina says. "I knew that it was over. At least my marriage was over, because he apparently never had a marriage."
"Congratulations. You're sitting on America's favorite couch. I wish you well in your journey. With the telling of this book, Dina has now had an opportunity to share her story as I did with mine. Now, hopefully, is the time to look to the future to raise our daughter in a loving, nurturing environment."
Dina has advice for women who are in a similar situation she was. "If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone," she says. "What I want people to know is that—whether it's men or women that have had this happen to them—is that you have nothing to be ashamed of. You've done nothing wrong. And most of them, just like me, probably married their spouse because they fell in love with them. They've done absolutely nothing wrong and they should not blame themselves."
We asked Golan Cipel to respond to Jim McGreevey's account of the alleged relationship and Golan asked us to emphasize that there are two sides of the story and he sent us this statement.