Bruce Jenner's first wife Chrystie Crownover admitted that she was absolutely "shocked" when her ex-husband revealed to her in their first year of marriage that he was struggling with gender identity issues.
(At this time, Bruce Jenner has not chosen to publicly identify as a woman and so E! News will continue to refer to him as Bruce and use male pronouns, until he indicates otherwise.)
Jenner and Crownover were married from 1972 to 1981, but he confided in her early on. Although she was very surprised, she kept his secret because she knew that it took a lot of respect and trust to confess something like that. "I can't remember the exact words because it was such a shock to me, but he opened up his heart and confessed, and he had to share this deep, dark secret," she told Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos Monday.
"He told me he wanted to be a woman, and understandably, I didn't know what to say," she added.
Although she understood, the mother of Jenner's children, Burt and Casey Jenner, struggled to process what it all meant. "It's so hard to wrap your head around it, particularly because he was such a manly man," said Crownover. "He never indicated anything feminine in his demeanor."
Despite being honest about his confusion, Crownover insisted that it never became an issue in their marriage, and that it didn't cause their split. "It wasn't really a problem," she said.
Jenner watched Diane Sawyer's 20/20 interview with many of his family members Friday, and his first wife revealed that he was "tearful at times," which broke her heart.
"I reached over and tried to give him a little comfort," she said. "It broke my heart for him."
Alexandra Wyman/Invision for PMKBNC/AP Images
As for why she never told a soul, Crownover dished that the amount of trust it took for him to confide in her with such a large secret made her respect him more. "The fact that he did share it with me that first year I felt like it was actually a gift that he gave to me that he trusted me with something so intimate," she said. "I felt like I was in charge of something that I had to hold private and dear and quiet. It involves a tremendous amount of trust on both parts."
His four eldest children, Burt, Casey, Brandon and Brody Jenner, also opened up about their father's reveal and said that although it was tough not having him around while they grew up, they're more than supportive now.
"We're not trying to look back," Brandon dished. "We're just looking forward."
Although they all admitted to having an estranged relationship with their father during the "formative years," they have since developed a better and closer relationship with the Olympian. "In seeing him come out to me and explain his true self I was more proud right then to carry the last name Jenner," Brandon said.
"The one thing that I think we have gained that means more to us than anything is the honesty," added Burt. "I personally hope that this journey leads to the place that he wants it to."