For McGreevey's Wife, an American Dream Turned Nightmare

Dina Matos McGreevey said her husband's "entire life was a performance."

May 2, 2007 — -- At any given time in the United States, there are an estimated 2 million marriages where one spouse is straight, the other gay, according to an organization called the Straight Spouse Network.

Dina Matos McGreevey used to be tangled in one of them. The estranged wife of former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, Matos McGreevey found out about her husband's double life shortly before he came out as a "gay American" and resigned from political office.

On "Good Morning America," she described how the news shattered her world.

"I thought I had it all, I thought it was the American dream, and it turned out to be a nightmare," she told ABC's Diane Sawyer.

As her husband came out on live television in August 2004, Matos McGreevey stood like a stone by his side, wearing a strange smile that she said was pasted over a pain almost too scalding to survive.

"You know he had the entire day scripted," she said. "His entire life had been choreographed, and even as his world was falling apart, he was still trying to script everything and making sure that day went as he wanted it."

Matos McGreevey said the former governor asked her to be brave at that announcement, like "Jackie Kennedy." In her new book, "Silent Partner: A Memoir of My Marriage," she writes that she was actually crashing, like someone "in a storm in a skid on black ice."

"I didn't want to talk to anyone, I couldn't leave my house because I had reporters climbing up trees," she said. "Even though I had my family and I had my friends, I was shocked. My world had collapsed around me."

Camelot Corrupted

When Matos McGreevey met her future husband, she was in her late 20s. She had a career but still lived at home with her parents, and was charmed by the man with the big political future.

When they married, the press said they had the air of a classic American political couple, like JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy. For Matos McGreevey, that makes the dissolution of their marriage all the more painful.

"It's very painful. It's sad. It's a tragedy," she said. "We had a bright future, I thought. People compared us to Camelot, and there was certainly this aura of Camelot."

Despite recent statements by McGreevey that his wife knew he was gay long before he came out, Matos McGreevey asserted she had no idea her husband was cheating on her with men.

"I didn't know," she said. "And as I said, it was a performance. His entire life was a performance. He's saying now that I knew but he hasn't said that before."

As governor, McGreevey appointed one of his crushes, Golan Cipel, as director of homeland security and sneaked off to see him when his wife was hospitalized, carrying their baby. Though rumors swirled about McGreevey's homosexuality, Matos McGreevey said she didn't have time to pay attention to them.

"I wish someone had said something to me. There were apparently rumors out there, but when you're married to someone in a powerful position… there's always innuendo," she said. "I was a new mom, a new mother, first lady renovating the mansion, I had no time to read the papers or listen to rumors."

In retrospect, McGreevey said she believes it would have been easier to deal with her husband's betrayal if he had cheated on her with a woman.

"I think it would have been easier to take if it were a woman only because I wouldn't have to acknowledge that my entire marriage was a lie," she said.

Now not only is Matos McGreevey trying to reconcile years of deception, she is also dealing with intense anger.

"Right now I think the word is anger, because I don't think he still acknowledges the damage he's done to me and my family," she said. "There's still real anger and I've tried to control it certainly for my daughter and I'm afraid that if I start throwing things, I won't stop. What he's done is outrageous."