The ‘Irisgate’ scandal helped strengthen his working relationship with Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness said.
He says he hopes to build on it in the new Assembly to jointly solve problems.
The two men shook hands for the first time when he commiserated with his DUP opposite number when Iris Robinson suffered a breakdown and subsequently left public life.
It happened after her affair with a teenager was exposed.
“Yes we shook hands. That was a human thing to do at the time,” Mr McGuinness revealed.
“I don’t want to see any family go through what the Robinsons went through at that time, but none of this can be seen in isolation from what was happening politically at the time.”
As Mr Robinson handled the personal setback, he and Mr McGuinness were working together on the devolution of policing and justice.
“Everybody’s leadership was tested and for Peter it was complicated by the very sad circumstances which surrounded his personal life.
“The fact that we succeeded has strengthened our relationship.”
Mr McGuinness says he hopes to keep making progress with Mr Robinson.
A key objective is settling the festering row over school transfer procedures.