Today show host and former View moderator Meredith Vieira keeps a happy demeanor on-screen, but that’s not always the case off. The 53-year-old’s husband, journalist Richard M. Cohen, has lived with multiple sclerosis since 1973, and Meredith tells Good Housekeeping about the hardships of battling the disease alongside him before he made it public.

“When we moved to the suburbs, people would think he was drunk,” she tells the magazine. “I always felt a certain amount of discomfort in not being open. I’m not always chipper. I’m angry sometimes, and I think it’s important to say that. It’s hard sometimes. Harder mostly for Richard, but there are days when I’m angry for the family or for myself, when I think, Why do I have to do this? It’s much better to get that out.”

Because “illness is a family affair,” Meredith believes it’s important to open up and vent, which is what Richard did in his 2004 memoir Blindsided. The tome was meant to be an educational read on the debilitating disease that has rendered Richard himself blind until his editor convinced him to tell his story, which Meredith is ever grateful for.

“It turned out to be a blessing – for him and for other people with MS,” she says. “It validated their feelings, gave them a chance to open up.”

The couple has been married for 21 years and have three children, Benjamin, Gabriel and Lily.

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