Melania and Donald Trump aren’t known for their public displays of affection. That’s why it came as something of a surprise to see the president and the first lady hold hands at the White House Fourth of July picnic for military families.
As Hollywood Life reports, Donald spoke to their guests from the Truman Balcony and thanked the members of the armed forces for their service. Then he and Melania joined hands and proceeded to the South Lawn. The president wore a dark navy suit with his quintessential long red tie. Melania wore a blue and white checkered dress with a bold red belt with a bow.
Melania has been seen actively rebuffing her husband’s attempts to hold her hand on more than one occasion. In April, during a photo op on the South Lawn with the French president and first lady, cameras caught Melania trying to resist her husband’s hand-holding efforts, Business Insider reports. Trump persisted and she eventually relented but not before this awkward interaction was broadcast to a huge TV audience.
In May 2017, during the president’s visit to Isreal, Isreali newspaper Haaretz posted a clip which showed Melania slapping Donald’s hand away after he tried to grasp hers.
The examples of botched displays of affection have led many to question the true state of their marriage. In a conversation with People Magazine, a presidential historian called the marriage unhinged and describe it as the most “awkward union” that the White House has ever seen.
“In modern times, we haven’t had such an awkward marriage — one that seems to be, if not unraveling, it seems to be frozen. It doesn’t seem to be a very organic thing,” said Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University.
Brinkley cited the “hand swat” as a clear sign of a marriage on the rocks.
“That scene of the hand swat is a visual metaphor for a marriage that isn’t hinged right,” he added.
Brinkley went on to say that the marriage doesn’t radiate any type of warmth and that he thinks they’re “painful to watch.”
As People notes, in terms of affection, the Trump marriage pales in comparison to the Obamas’ time in the presidency. Even George and Laura Bush seem to enjoy each other’s company.
But Melania and Donald aren’t the only high-profile couple that don’t often show affection in public. As Business Insider notes, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge don’t hold hands in public regularly, although they’ve been photographed doting on their kids. And there are photos of Melania and Trump holding hands during their public outings, like at the Fourth of July picnic. So maybe, like many other couples, they just have their off days sometimes.