While New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey let go of years of secrets Thursday during his public admission that he is a gay man, his wife, Dina, quietly stood by his side. Now that he's come to terms with his sexual identity, his wife will be left to pick up the pieces of her own life, say women who have faced similar revelations.
Carol Grever and Amity Pierce Buxton say Dina McGreevey won't be alone in her struggle. Both Grever and Buxton were married to men who later revealed they were homosexual, and they say it happens more often than most people think.
"Many marriages seem to be quite normal — normal sexual relationships, normal children born from the union," Grever said on ABC News' Good Morning America. "Everything is clear after the fact. I mean, you have 20/20 vision in hindsight," said Grever, author of My Husband is Gay: A Woman's Guide to Surviving the Crisis.
The national nonprofit organization Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays estimates that more than 2 million homosexual or bisexual people are or have been married to heterosexual partners. PFFLAG estimates that 85 percent of those couples eventually separate, while 15 percent continue their marriages.
Both Grever and Buxton were separated from their husbands following the revelations.
It's not clear whether or not the McGreeveys will stay together. Micah Rasmussen, a spokesman for the governor, declined to answer any questions about the future of the marriage.
While the couple seemed to have a typical marriage in the tourism ads that featured the governor, his wife and their young daughter, McGreevey admitted Thursday that he had been involved with another man.
Although Dina McGreevey stood by her husband's side during his admission, Grever says women in similar positions tend to go through a series of reactions and emotions.
After Grever's husband of 30 years admitted to having affairs with men during their marriage, Grever says she went from being shocked to being upset.
"I wasn't angry for a long time, but when I went to have an AIDS test and I realized — I think in my core — how much risk I had been in for those years. Then I was angry … and then I did feel very sorry for him because he had been living a lie for all those years," Grever said.
Amity Pierce Buxton, author of The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families, says she felt a certain degree of clarity after her husband of 25 years told her about his homosexuality.
"I was relieved to find out why the marriage was a problem," Buxton said. "I was angry at the society for making him think he had to get married."
Grever says there were little clues she might have picked up about her husband's sexual struggle if she had been looking for them
"He changed his appearance. He traveled a great deal alone. But these could have meant he was having an affair or meant that he was disinterested, but he was emotionally distant, particularly toward the end," Grever said.
Grever and Buxton say it is possible to keep a marriage together after a spouse reveals a sexual preference if both parties are honest about what they expect from one another.
Gov. James McGreevey, a Democrat, thanked his wife for standing by him throughout the embarrassing and shocking revelation of his same-sex affair.
"I ask the forgiveness of my wife," McGreevey said during Thursday's news conference. "She has been extraordinary throughout the ordeal, blessed by virtue of love and strength."