updated 07/24/2013 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/24/2013 AT 7:00 PM ET
When they invited PEOPLE into their Manhattan home last summer – their first interview since he resigned from Congress amid scandal – Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin (joined by baby son Jordan) were the picture of a family tested, but healed and happy again, with Anthony’s sexting habit kicked.
Now, he tells a very different version of What I Did Last Summer, calling it “a rough time in our marriage.” (Asked Wednesday at a campaign event whether he’d been dishonest, Weiner said, “Look, I was going through some things personally – family-wise – and trying to be honest about it, about where we were at the time. But this thing, you know, was still there.”)
Here, PEOPLE offers previously unpublished and expansive excerpts from that 2012 interview to shed new light on what Weiner and Abedin are saying now.
THEN: The Best Husband
Weiner said in the July 2012 interview that he went through therapy around the time of his June 16, 2011 resignation from Congress – “It was early on: May, June. When this all was going down.” He emphasized that he was diligent about behaving. “Every day since this has happened, I’ve tried to become a better person, a husband that Huma deserves and as good a father as I can be. And I’ve explored every way to try to do those things and I’m committed to continuing on that path.”
Abedin, too, said all was well – his bad behavior banished to the past, describing him as a model husband. “Anthony would be the first to tell you that he regrets the mistakes that he made and he has spent every single day since then trying to be the best dad he can be, the best husband he can be and it shows. I consider myself very lucky to be married to him. I’m proud to be married to him, I want Jordan to be proud of who his father is.”
She continued, “I tell my friends things that Anthony does and they’re always like, ‘Really? He does that?! My husband doesn’t do that.’ I mean, I have not washed a single piece of clothing ever. Anthony does all our laundry. I have not been to our dry cleaner. He does that. He makes my tea when I get up in the morning. He’s just a loving, caring, thoughtful spouse and partner.”
Standing at the door to their midtown apartment, Abedin had tears in her eyes as she explained why she, a normally very private and press-shy woman, was inviting PEOPLE into her home to tell her family’s story.
The New York Post was, a full year after the scandal first broke, still posting photographers at the front door to their building “as if we should have something to hide,” she said then.
“My husband did a really, really stupid thing. But he didn’t kill anyone and the only person he hurt was me. It was an extremely difficult and painful time in our marriage and having to endure it publicly didn’t make it easier. It took a lot of time, a lot of work to get where we are today. There was love there, this commitment. We’re a happy family. We’re a couple in love and have a baby boy who is a reflection of that love and I want people to know that. I just want people to know we’re a normal family.”
NOW: It Was a Rough Time
Weiner, who is running for the Democratic nomination in New York City’s mayoral race, told Tuesday’s press conference that his sexting continued well past PEOPLE’s July 2012 story – at least into that August. And, according to one recipient of his lewd messages and photos, reportedly as late as November 2012.
Whatever the duration, he explained, “The fact is that that was also the time that my wife and I were working through some things in our marriage.” Or, as he put it in a letter to supporters today, “It was a terrible mistake that I unfortunately returned to during a rough time in our marriage.”
For her part, Abedin did not specify at the press conference when she found out about his continued sexting – except to say that she knew before he announced his mayoral candidacy in late May 2013. “It took a lot of work and whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony,” she said Tuesday. “I love him. …I believe in him.”
THEN: That Still of the Night
Weiner told PEOPLE in 2012 that his son’s birth in December 2011 forced him to throttle down the frenetic energy he has blamed for his sexting.
“I forget who said it, but someone said to me, ‘Try to be as still as possible in this storm. I guess that sentiment is something that I still kind of experience now – a certain stillness, a certain quietness of your soul that belies all the tumult going around. That’s not my m.o. Of all the adjectives you could use to describe Anthony Weiner, ‘still’ wouldn’t be one of them. I really do feel like a very, very different person. Huma and I talk about it all the time, how little we remember of the pre-Jordan time. And the problem with these platitudes is that I think every parent is like, ‘Dude, that’s being a parent.’ ”
He said that middle-of-the-night feedings when Jordan was a newborn changed his own rhythms. “I learned to get used to the 3:30 ESPN SportsCenter, so I know all the West Coast scores before any of my friends and there’s something about that still of the night, when it’s just me and Jordan that’s just great. I learned that I always had a great sense of where I was going and how to get there next but I didn t have a good sense of just sitting and being and feeling and having a sense of peace.”
NOW: It’s Over – Again
Weiner said Tuesday the reckless behavior was “something that [Huma and I] had worked through together, something we put behind us and something we wanted to keep behind us. But as I’ve said, it’s in our rearview mirror but it’s not far. We still work every day.”