Peter Robinson has always been seen as dour and emotionally reserved, the stereotypical Ulster Protestant and staunch defender of unionism.
But the man sitting opposite me, exposing his all-too-real hurt as a husband, is as far away from that image as is possible to imagine.
At times his tone is not that of the public politician but the hurt husband, who is evidently still struggling to come to terms with the turmoil that has engulfed him and his family. He is, of course, also a father, and acutely aware of how the revelations have impacted on the Robinsons' three grown-up children, Jonathan, Gareth and Rebekah.
'How am I dealing with this?' he says with a wry smile, leaning back in a leather armchair in the study of his Dundonald home.
'Well, my weight had dropped from 215.5lb to 180lb over the past 10 months, though it's not a diet plan I would recommend to anyone.
'But there are days when, were it not a case of getting up and getting on with things for the sake of the family, your instinct is just to get into bed, turn out the light, pull yourself into a foetal position and not come out again.'
That he is deeply hurt is beyond question by his wife's affair, and also by the welter of lurid media coverage that has followed the BBC 'Spotlight' programme. And if coming to terms privately with his wife's infidelity has been devastating, the public fall-out has been much, much worse.
One thing's certain, though: the public have seen a very different Peter Robinson to the hard-nosed politician they've witnessed for decades.Suddenly he has seemed so much more human. And, if the thousands of cards, letters and emails that have been pouring into his home and constituency offices are anything to go by, many people seem to like him all the more for it.
It's clear that while people have been stunned by the episode, many also have sympathy and understanding for the family's predicament. Mr Robinson says: 'I have seen two facets of human nature. There has been the baying press pack who treat you and your family as if they are a commodity without any thought of the lives they impact, without any thought of the accusations that they say. Simply the accusation is sufficient.
'And then there are all those people who offer support, who write to you, who ring to see if there is anything they can do to help.'
Mr Robinson (61) is obviously a man torn between defending the honour of his wife and the mother of his children who remains under acute psychiatric care, and also his own sense of self-respect. Referring to newspaper claims that Iris (60) had two other affairs -- with McCambley's late father Billy and an unnamed DUP politician -- he proffers this challenge to reporters: show me your proof.
'These journalists who make these accusations make them very carefully,' he says.
Read full interview in today Independent