These Photos Of Melania & Donald Trump Over The Years Show Their Transformation As A Couple
Most serious couples, including Melania and Donald Trump, go through changes in their relationship as they navigate life's twists and turns together. The celebrity of being president and first lady, however, puts those changes in the public spotlight. The couple has certainly weathered some major changes in recent years, and photos of Trump and Melania show how their relationship has been portrayed to the public over the past decade or so.
Body language experts have pored over photos and videos of Trump and Melania, analyzing every hand hold and hand swat. And the verdict speculates that these are two people who might not feel the same way they felt when they first got together. "There is evidence that they are not happy," Patti Wood told Bustle in November 2017. She contrasted their tense, non-verbal communication to the warmth of the Obamas.
"Obama would offer helpful gestures, like helping her into places. Putting an arm around her," Wood said. "There were spontaneous little moments of leaning in and touch. Those tiny moments of affection show real support for one another." Unless you personally know the Trumps and interact with them on a personal level, you can't judge the state of their marriage with certainty. Who knows — maybe behind the scenes Trump and Melania really are cozied up in warm, loving bliss.
But let's look at some photos of Trump and Melania to see how their relationship has seemed to evolve, for better or worse, since Trump won the election.
1. New York Scene
As a celebrity couple, Trump and Melania were two socialites cozying up at events like New York Fashion Week. Melania was a model at the time and started her career in Milan when she was 16 before moving to the United States. In a 2005 interview with Larry King, Trump said he saw Melania for the first time at a New York Fashion Week Party and "went crazy."
2. Surrounded By Models
In the past, Trump was more focused on expanding his real estate empire than running for office. Here he is at a launch party for Trump International Hotel and Tower Dubai, in the middle of a smooch sandwich with Melania and model Heidi Klum. Melania and Trump started dating in 1998.
Regarding when Melania first met Trump, she told Harper's Bazaar:
He wanted my number, but he was with a date, so of course I didn't give it to him. I said, 'I am not giving you my number; you give me yours, and I will call you.' I wanted to see what kind of number he would give me — if it was a business number, what is this? I'm not doing business with you.
3. More Movie Moguls Than Secret Service
Donald and Melania married in 2005 and had their first and only child, Barron, the following year. While living in New York, the couple appeared on red carpets and attended celebrity-filled parties.
Public speaking coach Nick Morgan told Bustle that in their 2005 Larry King Live interview, the newlywed Trump and Melania seemed to "genuinely like each other."
4. The Trumps Hit The Campaign Trail
After Trump threw in his name for the presidential race, Melania often accompanied him on the campaign trail, although she spoke seldomly. She did give a speech at the Republican National Convention in July 2016, but she was ridiculed afterward when it was discovered that her speech lifted lines from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech. Melania emerged again right before Election Day to make a public pledge against cyberbullying.
5. Trump Wins The Election
According to Michael Wolff's explosive tell-all Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Trump was in a shocked daze and Melania was in tears when Trump won the election. The two must have quickly put on their game faces for the public, though. They shared smiles and cheek kisses to celebrate Trump's victory. Melania has not commented on the book's claims, but Trump tweeted his thoughts on Fire and Fury: "Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist."
6. The Gift
As per tradition, the Trumps visited the Obamas on Trump's Inauguration Day. The entire event was somewhat awkward — from Trump charging ahead and leaving Melania behind at the car to Melania's polite gift-giving that birthed plenty of memes. "If you didn’t know that they were married, you wouldn’t know that they are married,” body language expert Susan Constantine told CNN.
7. Inauguration Day
A video clip of Melania frowning during Trump's inauguration went viral the day he was sworn in. The reason for the sudden frown is unknown though. In one theory people speculate that she was smiling when she thought her husband had turned around to make eye contact with her, but her face fell when she realized he was looking for his daughter Ivanka.
8. Trump's Walking Distance From Melania
For the Huffington Post, etiquette experts weighed in on the tendency for Trump to walk ahead of Melania. It doesn't happen all the time, but often enough for people to notice. Twitter users shared pictures of past presidential couples, like the Obamas and the Reagans, which show the president and first lady getting off Air Force One together.
9. Attempts At Holding Hands
Wood told Bustle that in the earlier months of of Trump's presidency, she saw a lot of pictures where Trump would lead Melania by yanking her hand like a child. Or pictures where Melania would try to reach for Trump's hand, only for Trump to not notice.
Perhaps after a coaching on public etiquette, Trump began making more attempts to hold Melania's hand (this is only a guess). Melania was spotted swatting Trump's hand on several occasions however, including this arrival at Tel Aviv.
11. Solar Eclipse Gaffe
At a White House viewing of the solar eclipse, Trump decided to risk his eyesight and take a squinty peak without protective glasses. In this photo, Melania appears to be more concerned with her son Barron. Melania's actions indicate that Barron is her top priority; she opted out of moving into the White House straight away so Barron could finish up his school year in New York.
12. Melania's Christmas Wish
Around Christmas time 2017, Melania visited a hospital in Washington, D.C. where a 10-year-old boy asked Melania, “If you could spend the holidays anywhere in the world, where would you go?”
Melania answered, “I would spend my holidays on a deserted island, a tropical island — with my family.” Some people read into that response as indication that Melania is tired of the White House.
13. State Of The Union
Breaking with tradition, Melania arrived separate from Trump at his first State of the Union address. At this time, the two had not been seen together since the allegations that Michael Cohen, a personal lawyer of Trump, paid porn star Stormy Daniels hush money ahead of the 2016 election. It was rumored that Trump and Daniels had an affair while he was married to Melania.
Politico reported that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the allegations: "This case had been won already in arbitration, and there was no knowledge of any payments from the president, and he has denied all these allegations."
14. Diplomatic Relations
Trump and Melania have since been making public appearances again. Recently they welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte to the White House. The French couple was invited to Trump's first State Dinner. Melania flexed her fashion credentials in a white designer outfit and Trump was pictured giving Melania an air kiss. unlike the slightly more substantial one he planted on Brigitte.
"When we see those moments between Trump and Melania, there's a perception that there is potential tension there," body language expert Chris Ulrich told Bustle. "What that tension is about, we don't know.
Since taking on their national leadership roles, Trump and Melania have faced big life changes — both individually and as a couple. Despite persistent rumors that their marriage is an unhappy one, these rumors are just that: rumors. Unless Melania and Trump personally confirm these assumptions themselves, people can only only draw their own conclusions from the speculation.